Background Australia has national (Australian Injury Prevention Network (AIPN)) and state (Victorian Safe Communities Network (VSCN)) level networks working together. Each network was established as an independent membership based incorporated association. (The two networks gave community safety professionals a forum for support and learning when Victoria’s first two municipalities were designated as International Safe Communities in 1996). The role of these networks is to support government, business and the community to develop and promote safety strategies designed to minimise the impact of unintentional injury, crime, violence and emergency situations. More recently, the Australian Safe Communities Foundation (ASCF) was established.
Methods The networks cover the nation – all attempts are made to ensure representation from each state and territory occurs at election time for both the Australian Safe Communities Foundation board and the Australian Injury Prevention Network. An eight member elected Executive Committee supported by a Secretariat manages the Victorian Safe Communities Network. Ideally there is representation from the diverse sectors working in community safety including practitioners, researchers, and policymakers.
Dissemination of information from all three organisations to its members has evolved over time from a newsletter and online listserver for members – to a Blog, Twitter, and E-Bulletin news. This approach recognises that the networks need to change how they operate to respond to the needs of the community.
Activities undertaken have also evolved over time from consultations/support/certification as a safe community, face-to-face workshops/seminars, and a yearly conference to a conference every two years, online webinars, some face to face seminars, consultations with its members and writing position papers to influence Government.
Sustainability of the three organisations and the success of safe communities already long established was borne of the strong commitment by individuals and a shift in culture, and policy at key stakeholder and local government and organisational level. This culture shift encourages partnerships, networks and relationship building across sectors for the betterment of Safe Communities, by directing or participating in working groups. This provides a platform to progress safety issues locally as well as through government decision making processes. A healthy financially sustainable plan for the three networks continues to be an ongoing challenge depending on the national and state government agenda at the time
Results These networks facilitate a collaboration, to provide information and expertise on a range of community safety issues – across government and non-government agencies which influence policy development, support knowledge sharing and development and dissemination of resources.
These networks contribute to the expansion of safer communities, providing a platform for researchers and injury prevention practitioners to work with communities, implementing a broad multi-disciplinary approach to provide the best advice for individual community need. Tangible examples of the benefits of these networks include:
Connecting communities seeking formal accreditation with other communities who have experience of the processes involved.
Providing opportunities for networking and professional development through seminars and conferences conducted in partnership with other agencies and groups.
Conclusions Success comes to Australian local governments working to gain international safe community’s accreditation – The activities focus on promoting evidence based best practice and strength based approaches to early intervention.
- safe communities
- evidence based best practice
- strength based approaches
- early intervention
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