Intrinsically, community development involves navigating dilemmas. These dilemmas have intensified as neoliberal “arts of government” become more widespread and a “results agenda” more entrenched. Recent studies explore how community development practitioners manage the ambiguities of this current context. This article contributes by exploring how practitioners who work with Aboriginal communities in Central and Northern Australia navigate the dilemmas they encounter. Consistent with other studies, we find that practitioners draw on the foundations of community development practice while also responding to the specific characteristics of the setting. We discuss three principal strategies used by community development practitioners (patience, “letting go,” and negotiation), and we identify the implications for deepening community development practice and shifting the policy setting. This article demonstrates how even in a context that seems tightly prescribed by neoliberal arts of government practitioners are actively finding ways of valuing and supporting community knowledge, priorities, and time frames.
Cameron, J., Hodge, P., Howard, A. & Stuart, G., 2016, ‘Navigating dilemmas of community development: Practitioner reflections on working with Aboriginal communities’, Community Development, 47(4), 546-561.