Action Research

From time to time ANCAD participates in Action Research with various community stakeholders.  We find that when we engage community in action research inevitably groups find it to be an empowering experience. Relevance is guaranteed because the focus of each research project is determined by the researchers, who are also the primary consumers of the findings.

Previous research projects include:

Our Youth — Our Future

In 2013 and 2014 Auckland Council research identified a gap in provision of youth services in the Devonport-Takapuna (D-T) area. As a result the D-T Local Board requested a piece of research aiming to:“Develop and establish a youth centre in the Devonport Takapuna Local Board area through extensive networking and consultation with youth and the organisations serving them… [and to] enable a broad scope of needs and aspirations to be met in the Devonport Takapuna area.”

Sophie Barclay was contracted to undertake this peice of research. She research compiled the voices of more than 250 young people who live, work, play and go to school in the D-T area through the analysis of surveys, focus groups, intercept surveys and informal conversations, as well as over 25 people who work with young people.

The current population of young people (between 10 and 24) living in D-T stands at 12050 (Statistics NZ, 2013), however the population of young people accessing the area is considerably greater. D-T is set for a large increase in the youth population with the projected growth between 2013 and 2018 estimated at 7.6%, compared to the national projection of just 2.3% (Statistics 2013). This suggests there is a growing need to cater for young people in the D-T area.

There are currently many organisations working with young people in the area. Key relationships were established with these organisations, and as a part of this research aspect, spaces catering for young people in both Auckland and Whangarei were visited in order to understand how these spaces operate successfully.

Establishing both a youth advisory group and a team of volunteers to run a youth space was considered outside the scope of this project as a youth space was not officially been agreed to. 

The Sass Project: Using And Sharing Data In Collective Impact

Collecting relevant data is an important part of tracking what is working; what is not and enabling us to learn and improve on our work in and for communities. Each agency has their own case management system and collective impact does not seek to reinvent the wheel. 

The critical question is for the Collective to establish what data is useful to track and share across the agencies. There needs to be a focus on using data to inform the issues and track measures that lead to positive results.

The well-known saying ‘what gets measured gets managed’ is particularly true for collective impact. As agencies we are constantly challenged by our funders to provide evidence of progress and impacts and demonstrate accountabilities to our clients and communities.

This first phase has concentrated on developing and improving the data capability of a number of the smaller agencies in the Collective. With the guidance and expertise of the mentors– Hazel Jennings and Sarah Appleton, ANCAD explored ways to collect data on ‘wellness indicators’; establish a baseline and determine
‘what is worth measuring’.

The goal was for the Collective to be in a position to answer this strategic question effectively: “What is the data telling us about priorities for action”?

Let The Children Live

The Let the Children Live Research project was a partnership project between Auckland North Community and Development (ANCAD), Takapuna Methodist Church, the North Shore Family Violence PreventionNetwork (FVPN) and members of the North Shore Child Focus Group. A document review was carried out to answer the following research question: “How have preventative, strengths-based community-based practices, activities and approaches successfully changed child poverty and child abuse?”

The purpose of the research project was to collate and understand information (reports, websites, stories) from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK that describes successful community-based practice regarding improving child poverty and/or child abuse.

This research will be used to inform the development of a project in the Devonport-Takapuna and Kaipatiki Local Board areas that aims to: “Develop community-based approaches towards ending child poverty and child abuse.”

The next step in the project development will include more research of the assets and strengths already existing in the Devonport Takapuna Local Board area, and the development of a collective initiative such as a
community hub in the Mary Thomas Centre. 

Denise Bijoux was contracted as the key researcher to start the desk-based research work and presented the
following key themes (in summary).

Common themes across all three areas of interest include:

  • Creating multi-faceted approaches with a focus on both meeting needs and building on strengths;
  • Recognising that both qualified, experienced professionals and connected caring communities are
  • important;
  • Taking a holistic perspective and not necessarily focusing directly on child poverty or child abuse;
  • Addressing root causes as well as alleviating symptoms;
  • Assisting with the development of positive relationships and connection;
  • Growing skills that are transferable to various life situations and can help with prevention as well as with
  • recovery, reduction and even elimination; 
  • Programmes where some level of decision making is undertaken by the participant; 
  • Moving beyond strategies that hold individuals and communities accountable for factors beyond their control; some level of service coordination; and
  • Encouraging the development of supportive policies and systems where that does not
  • already exist.