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A Discussion on Community


This study entails the definition of community, community strength, the perspective of community by the Aboriginals and their differences and similarities to the western community and the perspective of community strength by Aboriginals and the differences and similarities between the Aboriginals and the western community. The similarities and differences of the definitions have also been stated according to different scholars.

A community is a group of people that have social relations, reside in one area, and have a common culture and characteristics. The historical beliefs of a community are similar and most of their interests are found to be common. This group of people exhibits has common behavior and lifestyle. A community is based on permanently set values that dictate right and wrong and demands that all members of a community to adhere.(P. Atkinson) defined community as a shared understanding while (Bell and Newby ) defined it as a set of interrelationships among social institutions in a locality. These definitions are similar in that they involve sharing of understanding, beliefs or culture. Bell and Newby’s definition seems more appropriate since a community is characterized by living in one geographical area.

Community strength is the level to which resources within a community enhance collective and individual wellbeing at the same time maintaining the values and principles deemed important such as equity, social responsibility, self-reliance and participation. Community strength is indicated by improvement of the general wellbeing of members of a community such as economic growth, increased number of schools, better healthcare facilities, high employment levels and safety to the public through the sharing and proper use of the resources present in a community. Community strength is also indicated by strong governance and improved co-ordination and participation by locals. Ways to improve community include involvement of citizens in making crucial decisions, positive socialization and high levels of cooperation for mutual benefit.

Some governments’ goals on community include social justice while some governments seem to think that for a community to be strong there must be social order and individuals have to have strong moral obligations. The community will become strong once there has been improved wellbeing of individuals which includes improved safety, self-reliance, individual and family productivity, and improved ability to withstand negative forces that affect individuals and communities once in a while such economic fluctuations and natural calamities.

Aboriginal people value their community highly. According to Hugh Mackay (2017), all people are urged to participate in their local community and rethink the values of the `me` society. Aboriginal people have very strong values of family unlike the non-aboriginal people such as the western countries. According to Daniel Dareus (2004), of the `as it is in heaven film` people are happy when they are together. Their families relations are extended not only to the nuclear family which is common among the non-aboriginal but also have an extended family system. This means that to them the children are not only owned by their biological parents but the whole community is responsible of their children’s behavior which further shows that members of a community have the right to discipline other peoples children.

According to the aboriginal people, when an individual misbehaves, shame is not only felt by his nuclear family but the whole community feels responsible while among non-aboriginal people, every family is left to face their own shame and irresponsibility. The aim of parenting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is to let the child know who they are in relationship to their family, their kin, their people, their environment and the living spirits of their ancestors and land. These relationships defines a child’s identity by defining how they are connected to everything; (The secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, 2010)

Kinship systems are strongly and well defined among the aboriginals and everyone belongs to a certain extended family while among the western people kinship systems are not valued. The kinship system of the aboriginals has roles that have been well defined and also responsibilities define how children are educated. Children are taught while still young of their responsibilities in the community. In a western country it is a crime to beat up or even better said disciplines a neighbor’s child as only the biological parents are allowed to. Aboriginals are very strict on conforming to changes without the elders first meeting up and discussing whether a certain change or revolution is legal or not depending on the values held important in their communities. They do not agree to change that would otherwise differ with their community values. Western people on the other hand are always open to change that comes up every day. Aboriginals have set up moral obligations and rules that are very strictly followed by members of their community and even foreigners who set foot in their community have to respect what they believe in. the inherent strengths of culture for families has been identified for a protective factor for Aboriginal children( Lohoar, Butere and Kennedy 2014)

Whenever non aboriginals set foot into the land of the aboriginals they have to pay their respects to the land owners who are the aboriginals. Most times aboriginals are recognized and acknowledged during conferences and meetings and the aboriginals are in charge of welcoming foreigners in their country since they are the original owners. Non aboriginals like for the case of western countries visitors are welcome in their countries and they do not value the paying of respect to them by foreigners. In an aboriginal community, there are specific roles performed by men who cannot be performed by women and vice versa while in the western setting, it is rare to find such rules. However, in a modernized aboriginal’s community, some activities which could not be performed by men and vice versa can now be performed by both parties.

Respect is an important value among aboriginals and therefore while having engagements with aboriginals, respect has to be practiced. Community elders of the aboriginal society have influence on how the community will work with outsiders while in the western communities, there are no specific laws that have been set up to influence how the westerns relate with people from outside communities and elders are not really acknowledged here. Almost every aboriginal community has its own unique language and accents and there has not been established a common language for the aboriginals. Westerns however have a universal language in every country which is mostly English. Different communities of the aboriginals have different structures and when a firm such as a non-governmental organization wants to work with them, it has to learn the structures of the different communities. Working with aboriginals is not so easy because they do not easily give you their trust which is as a result of the effect colonization had on them.

The goals of aboriginals on forming a strong community are to have social reforms that aim to improve the moral values and responsibilities of individuals and family. According to aboriginals, community strength refers to the strong bonds of family, the efficient and effective methods of family children and the positive effects these practices have on children and the community at large. According to the western culture, a strong community refers to a community whose level social justice is high and there is proper utilization and equitable distribution of available resources to improve the welfare of all the citizens. Values that contribute to achievement of community strength in the western culture include equality and democracy.

The strength of an aboriginal community includes a collective focus of the whole community on child rearing which helps bring up children who have proper values as set by the community such as the value of unity and cohesion. The children also grow with respect for elders just as required. The strength of a western community is characterized by good health facilities, improved education quality for their children, equal distribution of wealth and increased level of employment. However, the aboriginal community seems as research has proven fails to focus on some real issues such as the quality of health for their children characterizing them with very poor health.

Due to modernization, aboriginal communities have disintegrated and there is a struggle reclaims the aboriginal culture (Bowes and Grace 2014). Aboriginal people and Torrent Strait Islanders should be recognized as having special heritage and the health system should, in interacting with the aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander, support values that respect their historical and contemporary cultures; (SA Health Care Act 2008)


The study above has clearly shown the differences and similarities in definitions of various terms by various scholars. A community basically involves a group of people who live in the same area and are governed by specific set rules for that community. The Aboriginals have been proven to have very strong relations among themselves which have a very great positive effect on their children as they grow up. The western community values family but not to a very great extent in comparison to the Aboriginals. The western community concentrates on the nuclear family while Aboriginals extend their relations to their extended families. Characteristics of community strength among the western communities are clearly and strongly different from the characteristics of a strong family for the Aboriginals.


Bell, C. &. (1974). The sociology of Community. London: Frank Cass and Company Limited.

Elias, N. (1974). Towards a theory of communities. London: Frank Cass and Company Ltd.

Hillery, G. A. (1955). Definitions of community, Areas of Agreement. In Rural Sociology (pp. 111-123).

Mc Millan, D. W. (1986). Sense of community, A definition and Theory.

Report, N. C. (1995). Ways forward, national aboriginal and torres islander mental health policy .

Sonnett, R. The Fall of Public Man. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.





‘Connected Communities – Hugh McKay’ Audio File (Week 3 — Module 1)


‘As it is in Heaven’ Film (Week 2 – Module 1)