Social cohesion has become a dominant issue of our time. While the approaches used to build a tolerant and accessible society often come in the form of multicultural events and education projects, a truly cohesive society requires social change at a more fundamental level.

In my experience, the glue of a cohesive society has always been the exchange of value between community members. It is something that can be best summed up with a simple statement: “When you’re in need, I’m there for you and when I’m in need, you’re there for me.” This type of inter-dependence, which is built on the exchange of human value to meet our common challenges, has been at the heart of community throughout time. What is especially interesting is how our social challenges, which are often used as an argument against diversity, can also be the catalyst that unite our diverse communities.

This is the focus of our work at Community Four. Through our community strengthening projects, we continue to demonstrate that the community is the best place to find solutions to our world’s biggest challenges. We work with communities which have a high representation of people from refugee backgrounds to develop projects that are designed by the community members themselves. As part of these projects, we also create connections with more established Australian communities that have a common interest in being part of these solutions for the long term.

A great example of this is our recent work uniting two great community organisations, the Hampton Park Football and Netball Club and the Australian Hazara Women’s Friendship Network. At the heart of the project is an English and Lifeskills program for Hazara women which has a focus on social connectedness. The Club is a keen partner because they are truly passionate about community and are looking to diversify and expand their club’s membership base.

These two communities are bonding around a social challenge and a shared purpose. They have begun exchanging value in the form of cross-community social activities. This is how authentic social cohesion is developed, by facilitating relationships where diverse communities unite in appreciation of the unique value they each offer.

This article is an extract from the Lumin Monthly Newsletter