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322 Working from the inside out: a case study of Mackay Safe Community
  1. Dale Hanson1,
  2. Colleen Gunning2,
  3. Judy Rose3,
  4. Kathryn McFarlane1,
  5. Richard Franklin1
  1. 1James Cook University, Australia
  2. 2Central Queensland University, Australia
  3. 3Mackay Hospital and Health Service, Australia


Background Mackay Safe Community (MSC) was established in 2000 in response to high injury rates in the region. A community-based intervention using the International Safe Communities (ISC) model was considered strategic.

The ISC program advocates a systematic, all injury, all age group, all situation, community-based approach to injury prevention and safety promotion. MSC assumed an ecological perspective, incorporating targeted safety promotion campaigns reinforced by supportive environments and policy. By involving the community in finding its own solutions, MSC attempted to catalyse structural, social and political changes that empowered the community and ultimately, individuals within the community, to modify their environment and their behaviour to reduce the risk of injury.

Method This study used Social Network Analysis to analyse the social resources mobilised by the network. Using a snowballing methodology, the chain of relationships that constitute Mackay Safe Communities and its support network was elucidated.

Results A community network consisting of 118 members and an external support network of 50 members was established. A social network analysis conducted in 2004 indicated that the network doubled its cohesiveness while simultaneously doubling the bridging and linking relationships necessary to mobilise the resources required to implement its safety promotion agenda. A 12% reduction in Emergency Department injury presentations to Mackay Base Hospital was observed over the four-year period from 2000 to 2004. Mackay Safe Community became the 81st International Safe Community on the 31st August 2004.

Conclusions MSC can only be understood in its ecological context. While it was rich in social resources, human and financial resources were largely controlled by external agencies. The productivity of MSC was vulnerable to the changing policy priorities of external sponsoring agents and critically dependent on the advocacy skills of its leaders.

  • safety promotion
  • safe communities
  • social network analysis
  • sustainability

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