How to use the place-based approaches guide


We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Traditional Owners and custodians of the land and water on which we all rely.

We acknowledge that Aboriginal communities are steeped in traditions and customs, and we respect this. We acknowledge the continuing leadership role of the Aboriginal community in striving to redress inequality and disadvantage and the catastrophic and enduring effects of colonisation.

Who is this guide for?

This guide is for all Victorian Public Service (VPS) employees interested in place-based approaches. It may also be useful to stakeholders from other sectors and can be shared with organisations, groups and community members working as part of a place-based approach.

Governments have a critical role in setting policy, providing funding and delivering services, but just as importantly, to support and enable community members, organisations and networks to be at the centre of place-based initiatives. This guide supports the Victorian whole-of-government Place-based Reform Agenda and builds on the Victorian Government’s A framework for place-based approaches released in 2020.

It outlines how governments, community groups and other stakeholders can collaborate effectively to achieve meaningful impacts for their local communities.

How was it developed?

This guide presents best-practice for place-based approaches that put the community at the centre.

Community can mean different things to different people. A community may refer to a group of people living in the set location, or a group of people with a shared set of values or perceptions. In this guide, the term ‘community’ includes both understandings, with an emphasis on identifying and strengthening what is shared and of benefit to the end goal of place-based approaches.

This guide has been developed in consultation with stakeholders and is based on research and the most up-to-date evidence on how government can support place-based initiatives more effectively to achieve local impact.

This includes:

  • the 2020 Victorian Government A framework for place-based approaches
  • literature on leading place-based practice, including Australian and international case studies and evaluations, and the literature review produced by the What Works for Victorian Place-based Approaches research project
  • workshops and engagement with VPS staff and partners with experience working in place
  • the 2019 Department of Health and Human Services’ departmental guide for place-based approaches, also developed in consultation with place-based initiatives across Victoria and VPS staff.

It provides practical ideas, advice, case studies, tools and resources to help you effectively design, implement and evaluate place-based initiatives.

How is it structured?

Place-based approaches are dynamic and community-specific so there is no single model. The guide is arranged by topic to help you easily find the information you need. You can read the whole guide or focus on the topics relevant to your situation or interests. Each topic provides an overview of key concepts and how each element works, supported by case studies, tools and additional resources.

If you don’t have the resources available to follow the steps exactly as described, see this as a starting point. You can adapt the recommendations and use the information that is relevant to your role.

If you are just getting started, refer to Chapter One: Understanding place-based approaches and how they evolve over time to get a better understanding of place-based approaches.

Case studies

The guide includes case studies of place-based initiatives in action to help you explore key concepts and ideas. As you read through each case study, consider:

  • What is the challenge or opportunity the place-based initiative is trying to address? Who defined it?
  • What is the specific role (delivering, enabling, coordinating, resourcing, promoting, securing, advising) of the government department(s) and partners?
  • How is the initiative implemented, and its impact understood and measured?
  • How might the funding, structure and timeframe of the case study’s approach differ from your context?

The best available research on Victorian place-based approaches

As part of the whole-of-government Place-based Reform Agenda, the Victorian Government funded a research project to consolidate and review evidence and build a better understanding of what works for place-based approaches in Victoria. The in-depth report What works for Place-based Approaches in Victoria aims to support decision-makers, funders and partners to increase the effectiveness of place-based initiatives to improve the wellbeing of Victorian communities.