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Community Pulse Project

Project ID: 491
CIC Member?:
Active Project?:
Year Project Began:
Year of Latest Report:
Last Update: 06/19/16
Project LocationCity of Port Phillip
Lead OrganizationCity of Port Phillip
Type of Organization

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Geographic Scope (The level of geography at which the indicator data is collected):

Issue Areas:
Arts and Culture, Children/Youth/Families, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Employment, Environment, Equity, Governance, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Population, Poverty, Public Safety, Recreation, Social, Transportation, Volunteerism


Project Description

Introduction The Community Pulse project is a social indicators project committed to stimulating social change through community engagement. The Community Pulse involves community members in collecting and analysing data on what ‘really matters to them’. By feeding this data back up the food to chain to policy makers, the Community Pulse supports the work of community members and groups to effect the changes they would like to see in their community. The Community Pulse collects data on over 40 measures from a wide range of sources to present a regular and relevant picture of how our community is fairing. Project background The Community Pulse is founded on a rich, cross-disciplinary theory developed from studies undertaken in the last quarter of the 20th century by sociologists (Wilkinson et al, 1998), social epidemiologists (Marmot, 1998), economists (Sen 1987, 1992), political scientists (Putnam). Their integrated work has galvanised the view that the health and wellbeing of an individual and a community cannot be judged by ‘how much’ but rather ‘how good’ (Badham, 2009). In 2001 we asked community members how they would know if their community was getting better or worse. We asked them to think about what sort of data could help them tracks those changes. This community consultation led to the identification and establishment of 13 key indicators representing aspects of the local natural, built, social, economic and cultural environment. Since that time a diverse range of community members and groups contribute to the collection and analysis of over 40 measures, including ‘smiles per hour’, ‘bush and water bird species in Albert Park, ‘how kids get to school’, ‘the availability and affordability of a healthy shopping basket’. Theoretical underpinnings Socio –political research demonstrates general forms of community engagement prepare people for more complex forms of civic engagement and problem solving (Perkins et al. 1996; Verba et al.1995; Baum et al. 1999). Moreover, community members are more likely to become engaged in the fate of their community when they are able to determine of their own measures of success (Badham, 2009). In this way the Community Pulse’s participatory methodology provides both a vocabulary and a vehicle for positive and multi-directional feedback between the City of Port Phillip council and community; a means of communication that gives people experience in how to assess issues, appreciate public policy debates, and take action to get things done, including the design, development and delivery of services (Verba et al.1995; Perkins et al. 1996). Consequently services and infrastructure are better tailored to need, the community has greater faith in the process of local government and the City of Port Phillip council has greater faith in the community’s commitment to their vision for the future. Mission statement The Community Pulse aims to engage residents, workers and visitors in creating a healthy and resilient community by giving them control of determining their own measures of success. Responsibility The Community Pulse will continue to support the identification and articulation of community imperatives through the demonstrable collection of data tracking the sustainability of integral aspects of Port Phillip’s natural, built, social, economic and cultural environment. The Community Pulse will provide a means of positive, multidirectional feedback between community members and The City of Port Phillip council to promote its more effective respond to community visions. References Badham, M. ‘Cultural Indicators: measuring social change through community engagement’ (interim report 30/11/09) Baum F, Modra C, Bush R, Cox E, Cooke R & Potter R.’ Volunteering and Social Capital: an Adelaide study’. Australian Journal of Volunteering. February: 13-22 (1999) Maton KI & Salem DA. ‘Organizational Characteristics of Empowering Community Settings: a multiple case study approach’. American Journal of Community Psychology. 23 (5): 631-656. (1995) Perkins DD, Brown BB & Taylor RB. ‘The Ecology of Empowerment: predicting participation in community organizations’. Journal of Social Issues. 52 (1): 85-110. (1996) Robert D. Putnam “Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital" Journal of Democracy, January 1995, pp. 65-78. Sen, Amartya, Inequality Reexamined, Oxford, Oxford University Press, (1992). Sen, Amartya, On Ethics and Economics, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, (1987). Szreter S. ‘The State of Social Capital: bring back in power, politics and history’. Theory and Society. 31: 573-621. (2002) Verba S, Schlozman K & Brady H/ ‘Voice and Equality: civic volunteerism in American politics. Harvard University: Cambridge. (1995) Wilkinson RG, Kawachi I, Kennedy BP. ‘Mortality, the social environment, crime and violence. Sociology of Health and Illness. 20(5): 578-597. (1998)

What framework does this project use if any?

Awards and Recognitions:


Community Indicators – Performance Measures Integration

Does this project have Community Indicators?: Yes
The Community Pulse helps our community to track long term trends on issues that they are passionate about and stimulate broader community awareness and action. The Community Pulse is particularly useful for things that may be changing at a pace that is difficult to detect, such as the gradual erosion of affordable housing. The indicators have targets incorporated into their wording. These targets reflect many of the community aspirations outlined in the City of Port Phillip's Community Plan 2007 – 2017 which have in turn informed the Council’s strategic directions of Engaging and Governing the City, Taking Action on Climate Change, Strengthening our Diverse and Inclusive Community and Enhancing Liveability as set down in the Council Plan 2009 – 2013. Each indicator contains a series of measures. The measures are individual data sets (e.g. ‘penguin population on the St Kilda Breakwater’) that indicate whether we are heading towards or away from sustainability.

Does this project have Performance Measures?: No

Has this project integrated Community Indicators and Performance Measures?: No

Contact Information

Alicia Hooper
City of Port Phillip
Private Bag 3
St Kilda, Vic, 3182,
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