Community Sustainability and Social Justice: Whose Vision?

By Diane Costello and Brian Bishop.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Government policies in Australia rely heavily on local communities developing
their social capital networks to solve complex social, economic and
environmental problems. This study explored a regional community’s experiences with promoting social, environmental and economic strategies to facilitate community development within the sustainability paradigm. Applying multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks this study contributes a contextual view of a complex adaptive system. It is argued that the power differentials in governance relations and inclusivity of stake-holders in developing community visions is overlooked by decision makers. Furthermore that locational disadvantage and political isolation are also key considerations.

Keywords: Civil Society, Sustainability, Social Justice, Globalization, Social Capital

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.141-160. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.253MB).

Dr. Diane Costello

Research Fellow, Alcoa Research Centre for Stronger Communities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dr. Diane Costello is a community psychologist who has been conducting research with Indigenous and rural communities since 1995. Her PhD focused on the social justice outcomes for rural communities dealing with the impacts of globalization and loss of social capital. This also involved evaluating the process and outcome of governance relations of community sustainability policies pushed by governments as a self-help solution. Diane secured a seeding grant from the University to enable this research. She has also worked as a consultant to undertake research with Indigenous communities looking at the cause of crime and evaluating the cultural appropriateness and public participation model reflected in the Health Service Programs. Diane was employed as a Lecturer at the School of Arts & Sciences where she taught psychology with a focus on the dynamics of practicing in the Australia social context. The socio-political and historical antecedents related to Indigenous health and welfare including its diverse multi-cultural population were a major aspect in the curriculum set for professional practice. During her time at Notre Dame Diane was also given the opportunity to Head the Behavioural Science program. Diane has also supervised eight Masters students in the sub-discipline of counseling and is currently supervising three Honours students in the sub-discipline of community psychology. Diane is currently employed employed as an ARC Linkage Fellowship at the Alcoa Research Centre for Stronger Communities. Her current focus involves examining the social impacts of climate change within the energy sector for rural communities with a focus on groups who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Diane could be considered an early career researcher nevertheless her field experience with Indigenous and rural communities has provided her with real life on the ground understandings that can contribute greatly to academic research.

Assoc. Prof. Brian Bishop

Lecturer, School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dr. Brian Bishop is an associate professor in the School of Psychology at Curtin University and a senior scientist at CSIRO. He has been interested in self help groups, oppression and Indigenous issues, rehabilitation agencies, rural community development, social issues of natural resource management, and community based health programs. He has co-edited a book on sense of community and has written many refereed journal articles, book chapters and reports. A sample of these is shown below. Pretty, G., Bishop, B. J., Fisher, A. & Sonn C. C. (2006). Psychological sense of community and its relevance to well-being and everyday life in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Psychological Society. Available at: Bishop, B. J. (2007). Researching with Indigenous communities: Some issues for non-Indigenous researchers. In D. C. Garvey, Indigenous identity in contemporary psychology: Dilemmas, developments, directions. Melbourne: Thomson. Brown, A. L., Bishop, B. J. & Bellamy, J. (In press). Chasing Our Tails: Psychological, institutional and societal paradox in natural resource management, sustainability and climate change in Australia. American Journal of Community Psychology. Bishop, B. J., Dzidic, P. & Tucker, D. D. (In press). Haud muto factum – Nothing Happens by Being Mute: The Unspoken Myths and Metaphors of Climate Change in Rural Australia. American Journal of Community Psychology.


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