Ideas for the plain language statement

Can we call it community?

Project objectives

  • What are the things that matter to people in the place they live?
  • How do people invest in the places they live?
  • What sorts of differences exist in an inner suburb near the bay?

About the project

Places are being taken seriously by both the Victorian and the Australian governments. Projects aimed at making physical improvements, increasing access to services and building community are being rolled out and evaluated. This project does not seek to duplicate such evaluations or the community profiles that are used to compare communities, but rather to find out what the people in one suburb want for the place they live and what living in the suburb is like.

The focus is on what the researcher sees as a desirable suburb to live in. The suburb is close to the city, has a scenic location and has a history of residents challenging development they see as detrimental. There have been two sizable planned developments started in the area, at very different times, in the 1920s and the 1990s. More apartments are still being built in the area which is resulting in an increase in the number of people living in the area. At a time when there is public debate about how much population growth and what sort of population growth is beneficial to Melbourne, it is especially important to find out what the physical and social environment of a place means to, and for the options of, people who live in and/or spend time in that place.

This project endeavours to explore these questions through spending time with people who live in and/or spend time in the suburb. Speaking with people, going along to local events and being a part of what happens day to day is the way that the researcher will work towards finding out what matters to people about their suburb, what they can and are are doing and how much of this is shared or varies between people. This approach does not involve experiments. Groups, both formal and informal, that are willing to have the researcher come along to participate and learn are not asked to do anything different other than accept the presence of the researcher and agree that the researcher can use the information gathered during her time in the group to help her answer the research questions. It is hoped that some individuals will agree to have longer, semi-structured interviews to give the researcher the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about what people think. If the person being interviewed agrees, these interviews will be audio recorded to help make sure the researcher does not miss anything in the conversation and can get it right when writing about the project.

Of course research that involves talking directly with people means that the researcher will know the people who are participating. It can also be hard when writing about small groups and individuals within a single suburb to ensure nobody can later find out who is being written about. Real names will not be used for individuals and home addresses will not be disclosed. Exceptions will be made for any individuals who consider themselves public personalities if they want their names to be used alongside their opinions. Real names will only be used if the person signs a consent form saying they want their real name used. Unless a group or organisation indicates otherwise, the official name of the group or organisation will be used. This is to allow publicly available information (such as flyers, annual reports and websites) can be quoted or referred to to help make sure that when the project is written about it is done so accurately.

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