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Leadership and social capital: engaging small Australian communities in development and implementation of learning plans

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The paper explores the processes by which two Australian rural communities established Community Learning Plans (CLPs). It acknowledges the role of CLPs as contributors to social and economic change through influencing employment rates, income equity, social cohesion and reduction in poverty. In addressing the research question: What factors contribute to the effective development and implementation of a CLP in a small rural community? The paper reveals the importance of evidence and clarity of vision such as improved social and economic outcomes as core rationales for triggering the development of CLPs. The analysis of leadership and social capital resources drawn upon from trigger for a CLP through initiation, development and reflection to sustainable embedding in community, reveals the interplay between formal community leadership structures such as Council, community members, education, business, training and social services, and external actors as a predicator of communities’ ability to enact CLPs. Maturity of social capital resources and leadership processes and resources influence the development and implementation of plans in alignment with community needs and aspirations. The paper advocates for reward and recognition frameworks to help connect, engage and sustain stakeholder groups into community learning initiatives through providing relevance to their business or activity.
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Keywords: Community learning plan; enabling leadership; lifelong learning; rural communities; social capital

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Australia 2: Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Australia

Publication date: July 4, 2018

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