Civic Spotlight 2022 – Behind the Scenes

Understanding community needs is a crucial part of a Policy Officer’s role. But how does one do that? And to what end? 

by Dr Archana Voola – Policy Officer, Western Sydney MRC

My strategy has been to take a systematic approach to needs assessment. The first instinct is to go to the communities and ask them directly what the critical issues of concern are for them. This is necessary but unholistic. While lived experiences provide unique and necessary perspectives, they need to be complemented by existing expertise or practice wisdom. That is, what are the successes and challenges faced by organisations and individuals already undertaking the task of addressing these concerns. And finally, to have a robust understanding of the issues, research on the topic especially from real data, previous studies and reviews will add credibility to the needs assessment.  

The picturei below developed by the Australian Institute of Family Studies best captures this systematic approach to understanding community needs.  

At Western Sydney MRC, we decided to conduct a needs assessment of individuals from refugee and migrant background communities in the context of the upcoming 2022 federal elections. We want to know, what culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Western Sydney identify as their key concerns in order to highlight those concerns to the policymakers at a federal level for action and correction.

This paved way for the new project – Civic Spotlight 2022: Federal Election Policy & Engagement

Dr Archana VOola

Project Outcomes

  1. Federal Elections Position Paper 2022
  2. Civic Participation Community Toolkit
  3. Service organisations partnership building
  4. Direct engagement with policy makers

Project impact

  1. Building trust
    • Communities in institutions
    • Institutions in communities
  2. Enhanced civic participation
  3. Community collaborations to amplify CALD voices

While the wheels of our policy advocacy journey begin to turn this year, we acknowledge that no community project can really take off without a focus on Collaboration, Consultation, and Continual learning.

Watch this space as we progress through our CIVIC SPOTLIGHT 2022 project.