! Understanding communities
Dysfunctional communities !
disability service organisations ! An
alternative model ! Community
research ! Community survey
also labeling as a
roles Vs Community roles Vs Identity
Is not exclusive
to how we see ourselves or each other, a role can describe
anybody or anything that we associate with or have any interaction
Roles are neither positive or negative. The value that placed on the
role is determined by the expectations and behaviours associated with
the role within the activity. At a shop, for example, there are a
number of roles of the people in
the shop. Two of those roles are 1) sales person and (2) customer. If a
customer can not behave accordingly, or has some characteristic that
not fit into to the expectations of the sales person the customer may
not be treated with dignity or respect.
(a set of behaviors) that we find
useful in coping with our personal feelings and day to day situations.
described as the person's role (or function) within the activity that
participating in. We learn these strategies
through our relationships with others in society. In the family, at
school, recreation or work all involve strategies
A lawyer, for example,
a set of strategies
defending someone in court. A person learns
set of strategies
in teaching a class or being a father. A general learns strategies
in defeating the enemy. A person with
learns social skills, life skills, employment/recreational skills and
other positive behaviors that
provide a valued role for the person (friend, painter, gardener,
musician etc.). These strategies
are often used in various similar
situations, or mixed and matched in new situations, where the person
has no existing sets of strategies
We generally have 2 or more sets of strategies
that are used in different activities and situations, however, a person
may apply one strategy
to all activities and situations that may arise. Labels
are also a way to describe these roles, where a person is characterised
by a set of strategies
2) The term "Role" (also known as a social role or social function) is
also used to describe the
activity, the setting and the various interactions of the members
activity and the setting, where these interactions are consistent and
can be defined and measured (in the
sense of comparison with other
), and have a particular function within
activity and the setting.
These roles are determined by the society, community, club, team
or group that we are participating in, in that there are a set of
expectations and behaviours associated with the role within the
the term "behaviors", as a behavior describes a person's actions and
reactions, rather than the
intercourses that happen between members, and their relationships with
each other, within the
activity and the setting
in a particular activity is often predetermined by the type of
setting and the other members of the activity. In a classroom, for
(1): the type of activity is structured towards learning and the
skills and knowledge in applying the learning, (2): the setting is
(restricted to members that fulfil a set of criteria etc) and (3): the
of the members are Teacher (imparts the knowledge) - Students (learns
knowledge). In order for a person to have a valued role
within the activity and setting, the person must be able to satisfy the
criteria associated with the activity and setting. Introducing other
into the classroom (social system) may create some problems.
A particular role (or Label
is also placed on a person or group of people by a society, community,
or group as a way to justify or legitimise a policy or treatment of the
person or group. This happens all the time where a particular behaviour
or characteristic of the person or group does not fit into the normal
behaviours or characteristics of the society, community, club, team
or group. These policies or treatments often become institutionalised
into the society, community, club, team
Buildings also have different roles
or functions within society. The role of the building
describes the various ways buildings are used, and
various interactions that happen within the building. The function
the building is determined by these interactions and how they relate to
the members. The most
obvious of this is a "Function
that is designed to be
used for different functions. A concert hall has a particular role and
function within society. Communities, hospitals, classrooms,
and even a
have a different role and function according to the user and others
activity and the setting.
SRV uses the concept of roles in the
Implicit sense in that roles are used to generalise the values,
behaviours and expectations (the institutions) that define the person
or people, within a particular group, activity and setting, as a normal
part of society. While this generalisation is true in the most part, I
think that it is unwise to assume that the institutions of all
activities and settings share the same roles.
For example, Wolfensberger describes in his paper "The
Origin and Nature of Our Institutional Models
" the buildings that
devalued people were institutionalised in. They are characterised by
the values, behaviours and expectations within the building. Rather
than being institutionalised in these buildings, they were placed in
these buildings because there was nowhere else. Because of a lack of
skills and resources in the community they were assigned a devalued
status. Once this transition happened, it became a normal part of
community life (normalised in the community) in a sense that "these
people are devalued lets lock them up". The outcome was that people who
can not look after themselves, and need a structured life, were placed
in large buildings that could provide their basic needs i.e.: they were
If I showed you a photo of a building, chances are that you would not
know what its role was unless you knew what happened inside the
building. In our community, we see all sorts of activities that are
carried out in buildings of a similar design that have similar
institutions (universities, hospitals, hotels, office buildings,
factories etc). We also see examples of people being assigned a
devalued status outside these buildings in communities.
Wolfensberger uses imagery (Semiotics- Signs and Symbols, Image
Juxtaposition, Image Transference etc) with great effect so that the
reader has an idea of what it may have been like to live in one of
those facilities as well as society in general, and how he/she can
avoid the same thing in the future. Maybe he has done his work to well,
in as much as the points that he is trying to make and concepts he is
trying to explain have been absorbed into almost every corner of our
culture with gay abandon.
Just because a person has a valued role and is living in a home by
himself or with others does not mean that his life is any less
institutionalised (in the context of SRV) than he would be when living
with 20 or even 200 others.
Whether the person with a disability is institutionalised (in the
context of SRV) would depend
... the model of care
... the amount of support the person has
... amount of restrictions the person has
... the setting of activities
... the structure of activities
... the person's relationships with others
... the formal/informal cultures,
the behaviours and expectations (institutions) of the administration
of the service provider.
When moving from one community (living, recreation, employment or
education) to another, for example, we take on the policies and
practices, cultures, behaviours, rules and regulations - the normal
rhythms - of the community. We have to fit into the particular
institutions of the community that we are joining.
Sometimes when the goal is the de-institutionalise a person, all we end
up doing is re-institutionalising the person.
By changing the cultures, values, policies,
the behaviours and expectations of the community, where people with
high support needs have a better quality of life, we change the
institutions of the community.
Re-institutionalise then, is to bring about,
or normalise, a behaviour, activity or policy that supports
people within a setting, where that behaviour, activity or policy
part of the setting (institutionalised).
I propose to use a more inclusive (community) definition.
The good life:
The goal of the human services
make a positive difference in a person's
life. There are things we can
change (values, attitudes, behaviours, cultures etc.) and things we
(available resources etc.). By enabling people to fulfill their needs,
develop community networks, participate in activities and share
within their community, they have the opportunity to become valued
members of their community. Conversely, by enabling each community to
fulfill the needs of its members, to foster and develop personal
within that community, to facilitate strategies, solutions and
so that all members have the opportunity to participate in those
and connect with other members through shared experiences and
the community has the opportunity to become valued by its members as
well as other communities that it is a part of.
community has a particular role that fulfils a particular need.
Valued community roles provide a common cause or focus for the
community, as well as other communities that are a part of it.
Valued communities provide valued roles for their members.
Social role valorisation provides valued roles for ALL members of the
Communities that have valued roles in society …
... The spiritual community
... The family community
... The living community
... The recreational community
... The learning community
... The employment community
... The health community
... The internet community
... The blind community
... The disability community
Communities that have de-valued roles in society …
... The AIDS community
... The drugs / rave communities
... The criminal community
... The gay / lesbian communities
... The Muslim community
... The bikie community
... The street community
... The unemployment / homeless communities
... The aged community
... The single parent community
Community valued roles and Social Role Valorisation (SRV) complement
each other in providing valued roles for each community in supporting
people with high support needs as well as providing valued
relationships within each community.
Today disabled people generally have more opportunities to access
social activities (shopping, movies, functions etc) that most of us
take fore granted. Various government policies are designed to allow
entrance to buildings, parks and other venues so that disabled people
could participate in and share the same experiences as others in
"The good life" means different things to different people. Only by
developing the necessary skills, networks and valued relationships
within his/her community (living, recreation, education or employment)
can a person participate in, and become a valued part of their
community. The needs of the person also needs to be balanced with the
needs of the community in providing the most appropriate outcome for
the person (people with high support needs will need a more structured
setting than people with low support needs).
"The good life" could be described as: having the opportunity to
participate in activities and share experiences etc (whatever the
setting, structured or unstructured), in a positive way, where all the
participants have valued roles. Although the settings are more
structured and therefore more restrictive, it is possible for people
with high support needs to have as good a life as possible that is most
appropriate to their needs. (See also Disability services
A valued community role:
We all play a role in each community we are a part of. A father in one
community may be a teacher, worker or a painter in another community.
The value of the person's role is determined by the expectations of the
community in the person fulfilling that role. Sometimes other roles are
assigned to members where they do not come up to those expectations of
the others in a community. They may have a particular characteristic
that is different to the
others, or need special support that is not
available within a community. If the person does not have something of
contribute to the community, that person will be treated as different
(asigned a devalued social role).
Social roles are how we see ourselves and others in society. They are
often about a particular characteristic (age, gender, race, ethnicity,
culture, occupation, disability or even ability) rather than the
person. A Muslim, for example, is often treated different because of
his/her religion and culture. If the Muslim also had a particular
disability or disadvantage, that person would have less chance of
becoming a valued member in society. The same can be said for an
aboriginal, a bikie or drugie, or possibily even a bank manager or used
SRV (which itself evolved from the concept of Normalisation) is
probably the most influential social paradigm used to provide a better
life for people with disability. The idea of Normalisation (where all
members of society have the same right to a the same way of life as
others within that society) has been around for a long time. It has
only been in the last 10 to 20 years that we have had the incentives,
skills and resources to provide for a more humanistic approach to
meeting needs of disadvantaged people in society. SRV is about social
roles. Society tends to group people into different classifications or
groups according to a particular characteristic of a person that stands
out. Regardless of the persons individual differences. society
generally assigns a particular role to all people that share that
characteristic. This role describes the persons behaviours, and how we
should associate with the person. Roles are also a way to visualise the
person and what we may expect from the person. Some social roles are
positive. Hero, friend, supporter, defender of the faith, aussie
battler, statesman etc all create a positive image of the person.
Accordingly they are treated with respect and considerstion as valued
members of society. Whether they are good people or not, is not as
important as their social role. Other social roles are negative.
Druggie, criminal, nigger, deviant, sick, dole bludger, alcoholic etc
all create a negative picture or impression of the person, and as a
result, the person will be negitavely valued, and treated differently
to others, regardless of any other positive characteristicts the person
may have. SRV shows us that disadvantaged people were devalued by
society, and that by changing the way they are seen (their role), we
change our behaviours and expectations, and add value to their lives by
giving them the opportunity to participate in valued relationships and
activities. Person Centered Planning, the Least Restrictive Principle
and Transitional planning have all evolved from the principles of SRV.
Each model is designed to allow (or facilitate) positive behaviours and
attitudes within society, where the person to be able to participate,
as much as possible, within each community that most suits the person's
needs. These models of care could be thought of as the vechicle, SRV is
the engine that drives each model of care, and government policy and
practice serves as the highways and byways.
change the perspective from Society to Community we have a
better idea of what we are trying to achieve. Community is all about
valued relationships, about careing and shareing, about being with
others we love (Understanding
communities). SRV is all about providing those valued relationships
and support networks to disadvantaged people who have been
disenfranchised by society for various reasons. Valued relationships
transcend roles. Without others to share our feelings with, life
becomes meaningless. It does not matter how much money or possessions
we have, if we have no one to share it with, life becomes meaningless.
SRV is all about
building values and
communities. These communities may be a part of an organisation or
service provider, a family or club, or work, or school. By providing
valued roles for ALL members of each community that the person wishes
to participate in and is most appropriate for the person (Disability services role
models), the person is
more likely to have valued relationships within those communities.
The role of the family in the community:
Communities (recreation, employment
etc.) are not
the same as there were 20 or 30 years ago. The
telephone, radio, TV, motorcar, and now the
Internet has changed our world forever. Advances in medicine,
health and knowledge in various conditions has meant that people with
high support needs are living longer and healthier today. This group is
becoming larger each year.
Of course these groups should have the same opportunities and rights as
anyone else in the community. I am not advocating that we should lock
them up or anything like that, however, we should provide the most
appropriate care for the person as well as each community that the
person is a part of, where the community has the knowledge, skills
resources to look after their needs. Whether a person is a part of the
community of a service, or a number of communities, the person should
have the same opportunities as others within society.
Australian population will increase by about 22 per cent to more than
between 2008 and 2023 with most increase in the over 65 age group.
The total number of
person's who identify themselves as having a disability will increase
by about 38 per cent
to around 632,600 by 2023." (DSC
: Disability Future Directions, 03/2010 : P.37)
We talk about the new
generation and what they may do with their inherence.
... What will
families be like in the future?
... How will they look after
the needs of
you and me in 30 or 40 years time?
... Will communities have the
knowledge, skills and resources to look after
... What will be the role of a
community in supporting people
with high support needs?
... What will be the role of
policy and practice in supporting people
with high support needs?
... What will the current
(ACTIV, TCCP etc.) be like in 30 or 40 years time?
... Will we depend on
these organisations in the future?
Families have lost their
knowledge, skills and resources in providing
for the elderly. The socially accepted thing these days is to place
them in a nursing home while we carry on with more important things.
Other communities also have lost the
knowledge, skills and resources to look
after the needs of disadvantaged people and rely on organisations
instead. Today we see a rising population, which is getting older,
being stretched, pressure in existing services is increasing etc. etc.
would not be surprised to see these current service organisations
(ACTIV, TCCP etc.) become the institutions that Wolfensberger and
about in the past (full circle). In fact I really think that it is
already happening today and it's to late.
Maybe it's the society that
we live in, that we need to
deinstitutionalise, rather that the disadvantaged people that we are
trying to deinstitutionalise. We need to provide valued roles to
families and communities in looking
after the elderly, people with disability and other disadvantaged (poor
and destitute, and other medical conditions) so they have a future.
Families are groups of
people that have strong bonds with each other.
They are connected with
each other through bloodlines (brothers,
sisters, nephews, cousins etc.) or some rite of passage or ritual that
recognises the person as a part of the family (marriage, adoption,
into a family etc.). A group of people with criminal
activities is also
refered to as a family.
Have a defined set of
cultures, behaviours, expectations
Ownership: The members feel a
part of the family
The traditional idea of a
family unit, where the members spend time
together, where the elderly are respected and looked after as a part of
the family, where a person with high support needs would be looked
after by the family, where the members are dependent on there own (or
friends) resources are almost gone. When a family could not cope, they
could ask for help from their friends or a local community group such
as a church, school or community service group (Rotary, YMCA, Lions,
Salvos etc.) or the local hospital. The community managed to support
itself. There were no government agencies as we know them today around
Marginalised groups (aged, people with
disability, poor and destitute, ethnic groups etc.) were devalued and still are today, and
always be. However while some practices were seen as cruel, these
families and communities did the best they could with the knowledge,
skills and resources that were available at the time. The aboriginal
culture for example was also regarded as primitive, barbaric and
uncivilised, but we are just beginning to appreciate their way of life.
If you have an honest look at our own society today and what we do to
each other, the aboriginal culture may seem tame in comparison.
The role of the living community:
The right to accommodation that most suits the persons needs, and
access to community activities and facilities.
Just because the person with high support needs is living in a single
dwelling, a group home, an enclave or an estate etc that is managed by
a local community group (LCG
does not mean that that the person does
not have the opportunity to develop valued relationships and shared
experiences within the facility and the wider community. The person
also has the opportunity to meet with others in the community
(neighbours, at the shops etc).
By the inclusion of representatives of other community groups in the
(LAC - Local Area
Co-ordinator -, local club, local school, church
etc), strategies and solutions can be found where people with high
support needs are valued and have valued roles within that community.
Through the development of community links and networks, solutions can
be found to issues such as:
within the community.
The person still has the opportunity to access an organisation or
service (LAC and other Gov. dept's, TCCP, Activ, Swan taxies, IDEntity,
HACC etc) that specialise in a particular area of care for the person,
within the facility that is co-ordinated by the LCG
The living community gains the skills, knowledge and resources to
provide for the needs of its members.
The role of the recreation community:
The right to participate in those activities that are most appropriate
for the person towards developing valued relationships and shared
experiences within that community and the wider community.
The club, group or organisation's role is to provide activities
designed to fulfil the needs of its members.
With the help of the LCG
solutions can be found where people with high
support needs are a part of that community.
Depending on the persons needs, the recreation can be within a
community facility, the wider community or a mixture.
People with high support needs still have the opportunity to develop
valued relationships and shared experiences in a non-participatory
Stamp club: The person has an opportunity to learn about stamps
Photo club: the person can not take photos, but still has input into
the process and discussions on photography
Fishing: the person still has the opportunity to participate in the
activity and share the experience of catching the fish, even though
someone else caught it.
Horse riding: the riding community may have a buggy etc where the
person has the opportunity to go riding with the other members.
Each recreation community that the person is involved with gains the
skills, knowledge and resources to provide valued relationships and
The role of the education community:
The right to the development of skills and knowledge towards a more
active and productive engagement with others within the wider community
The role of education is to provide of skills and knowledge to it's
In a classroom, for example, (1): the type of activity is structured
towards learning and the gaining of skills and knowledge in applying
the learning, (2): the setting is separated (restricted to members that
fulfil a set of criteria etc) and (3): the roles of the members are
Teacher (imparts the knowledge)- Students (learn the knowledge).
Introducing other roles into this community (social system) may create
This does not mean that people with high support needs are
disadvantaged. On the contrary these people will be advantaged in that
(1): the education is designed to suit their needs and, (2): may
encourage the development of valued roles within the community if done
Through the co-ordination of the LCG
solutions can be found to issues
within education community
Just because the person is in another class, does not mean that the
person does not gave the opportunity to develop valued relationships
and shared experiences within the facility.
The role of the employment community:
The right to a more meaningful and productive life.
Gainful employment means: being able to fulfil our needs, provides us
with a sense of value and worth in others, and an achievement, as well
as ourselves and satisfaction in what we do.
By being a part of a LCG
representatives of the employment community
can be more actively involved in developing strategies that support
people with high needs. Through the co-ordination of the LCG
can be found to issues such as:
within the employment community
Local community services are a start to people becoming a valued
resource in the community.
The employment community would have the support of the LCG
the skills and knowledge in providing for people with high support
The facility may be a home, work place, office or factory. The setting
may be separated, partially integrated or fully integrated. The most
important thing is that the person has the opportunity to participate
in a gainful activity, and be valued as a part of that community.
What Is Community Care: