Community Social and Human Capital
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the nature and significance of communities, their sustainability and what strong communities mean for the people who reside in them. Strong communities are defined as those endowed with social, economic and environmental. assets and organisational structures that work towards their sustainable and equitable use (Department for Victorian Communities 2004). Put another way, we can think about 'the extent to which resources and processes within a community maintain and enhance both individual and collective wellbeing in ways consistent with the principles of equity, comprehensiveness, participation, self-reliance and social responsibility' (Black and Hughes 2001, p. 3). Much contemporary policy has focused on the need to strengthen communities (and families). A key concern in this area is that, in circumstances where the characteristics of a strong community are missing, members of that community have 'less capacity to meet the challenges of economic change and to cope with the pressures that lead to family and social breakdown' (Department of Families and Community Services 1999, p. 4). The notion of a strong community is of critical importance in a period of smaller government and the retreat of the welfare state. Stronger communities (and stronger families) are seen as augmenting neo-liberal policies across a range of systems.
Transitions: Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia