DHS Southern Metropolitan Region


In 2007, the Servicing Growing Communities Demonstration Project was launched by the Southern Metropolitan Region of the Victorian Department of Human Services in response to dramatic population growth in the City of Casey and Shire of Cardinia.

There was a strong emphasis on developing a partnership approach to provide early intervention support, build community capacity and increase family resilience while also learning about the impacts of rapid population growth and the effectiveness of flexible and responsive service planning and delivery for each growth area in the region.

The approach aimed to engage a broad range of stakeholders, including a number of State government departments, local government authorities, community service agencies and residents.

The focus of the Southern Metropolitan Region Demonstration Project (SMR DP) was on:

  • Developing partnerships
  • Community engagement and participation
  • Early intervention
  • Family resilience
  • Capacity building and social capital
  • Sustainability.

Lessons learned from the SMR DP that can be applied to other growth areas include:


  • Ensure that there is buy-in at the top of the organisations engaged in the initiative
  • Provide a well-resourced Project Officer to facilitate meetings and follow up actions
  • If there is a committee governance structure, include a wide variety of people representing all sectors of the local community.


  • Encourage cross sector and inter-departmental (whole of government) partnerships
  • Governance departments and LGAs should form partnerships with local community service providers and work with them to apply for philanthropic funds to support local service development
  • Formalise well-structured partnership agreements with each project partner which clarify specific roles and responsibilities
  • Encourage participation from other major stakeholders who can contribute particular expertise (e.g. industry bodies)


  • Develop a communication strategy that regularly delivers up-to-date project information to the full range of key stakeholders and promotes the initiative to the broader community.

Community Engagement

  • Use a variety of strategies to engage community members
  • Liaise with major local property developers to ensure that proactive and responsive community outreach strategies are commenced as families move into the area
  • Identify needs through community consultation and address these as far as possible and feedback provided for those who have contributed their ideas.

Best practice guides