Mental Health


Social Inclusion Framework

  • What does it mean to feel socially included?
  • Do you feel you have a voice, or the opportunity to meaningfully participate in your community?

In recent years, these questions and the need to better understand them have represented an increased focus for community leaders and PCP partner agencies across Melbourne’s inner east.

The emergence of this need was reflected in the catchment’s 2017–2021 Integrated Health Promotion Plan, with social inclusion adopted as one of two key priorities areas.

Whilst member agencies were passionate about addressing the issue, one thing was clear – social inclusion is deeply complex and multifaceted. Barriers to meaningful inclusion can present for people at different stages in their lives for a variety of reasons – from personal changes at a social or financial level, through to chronic illness, disability, mental ill-health and a variety of other circumstances. It could be something as simple as moving to a new neighbourhood. In addition to systemic barriers, the extent to which someone feels meaningfully included in their community can often be a deeply subjective experience.

Recognising this challenge, the IEPCP worked in close partnership with member agencies in several innovative ways. The development of a social inclusion framework would create a knowledge base - ensuring practitioners embraced a shared understanding of the issue. A series of workshops and partnership meetings delivered in tandem with the framework would ask deeper questions – what does primary prevention in social inclusion look like in action?

The IEPCP Social Inclusion Framework was launched online in 2020, with an inspiring key-note address by Patricia Faulkner. Patricia was a key member of the Australian Social Inclusion Board, a body whose work and legacy informed the development of the framework. This innovative work strongly enabled health promotion practitioners in the Inner East to work collaboratively and undertake a journey of shared understanding around the issue of social inclusion. It facilitated an opportunity for partner agencies to work alongside community members who were experiencing barriers to inclusion - enabling them to forge new friendships, connections and a deeper sense of belonging in their local communities.

For me, one of the key changes is the capacity of practitioners to understand and influence social inclusion. When we started, I felt as though social inclusion was a theoretical and somewhat nebulous concept. Since then, practitioners have gained a huge amount of confidence and expertise in this space... Staff have come and gone, but the learnings and capacity within the group have been sustained and practitioners continue to grow. Louisa - Health Promotion Practitioner.

*This article first appeared in Powerful Collaborative Partnerships, a commemorative document celebrating 21 years of the Inner East and Outer East PCPs. The article was compiled by Alex Mills with contributions from PCP staff.

Resource: Social Inclusion Framework

Framework Summary: Social Inclusion Framework

Recording: Social Inclusion Framework Launch