Alternative Pathways to Community and Economic Development: The Latrobe Valley Community Partnering Project
Conventional approaches to development in areas that are experiencing economic decline invariably focus on business growth through interventions such as incentives, infrastructure development and job readiness training. This paper reports on a pilot project aimed at developing an alternative approach to community and economic development in the context of the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, a resource region that has experienced downsizing and privatisation of its major employer, the state-owned power industry. The project was shaped by a poststructuralist concern with the effects of representation. It sought to challenge familiar understandings of disadvantaged areas, the economy, community and the research process in order to open up new ways of addressing social and economic issues. The resulting four-stage research project was informed by the techniques of asset-based community development and action research, as well as by discourses of the diverse economy and communities of difference. During the two-year span of the project, four community enterprises were developed. The varying degrees of success they have met with in the four years since the project concluded highlight the critical role of local agencies such as the council in providing ongoing support for such endeavours.
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