Theory of Change – Council example

The council states its goal as:
A connected and healthy community, which is supportive and confident

One objective that can be drawn from this goal is:
Improved community connectedness

Our theory of change therefore is:
We are looking for . . .
Increased community connectedness in Wonderland Shire

We know that

  • young people in Wonderland Shire are particularly disadvantaged in terms of community connectedness (Wonderland Shire Council Plan, 2013)
  • cultural development activities have the potential to contribute to community connectedness for young people (for example, McQueen-Thomson et al 2004; Barraket 2005; Barraket & Kaiser 2007; Net Balance 2013; Pope & Doyle 2006).)
  • young people are currently under-represented as participants in Council’s current cultural development activities (Cultural Development Department’s participation surveys, 2013-14)
  • activities that are most successful in engaging young people consider accessibility of transport options (ref) and a range of options (Brown, MacDonald & Mitchell, 2014)
  • activities that are most effective in improving community connectedness of young people involve development of skills and recognition of achievement (Catalano & Hawkins, 1996); creative participation (Brown, MacDonald & Mitchell, 2014); cultivation of a positive mindset; expertise and experience of professional artists (Creating Australia, 2014); connection with existing groups and networks (ref) and long-term, collaborative cross-disciplinary actions (ref).

So, we will

….focus on working with young people and develop a program of activities that responds to these factors (accessibility, achievement of skills and recognition, creative participation, options, professional expertise, making connections, long-term engagement), and work with other departments of council to make this program effective and sustainable in the longer term.


Barraket, J. (2005). Putting people in the picture? The role of the arts in social inclusion. Melbourne: Brotherhood of St Laurence. Retrieved January 13, 2011 from

Barraket, J., & Kaiser, A. (2007). Evaluating the mental health and wellbeing impacts of community-based festivals: Awakenings Festival and Braybrook’s Big Day Out. Melbourne: VicHealth.

Brown, J., MacDonald., R.& Mitchell, R. (2014). Are People Who Participate in Cultural Activities More Satisfied with Life?, Social Indicators Research, 122(1), 135-146.

Catalano, R. F., & Hawkins, J. D. (1996). The social development model: A theory of antisocial behavior. In J. D. Hawkins (ed.), Delinquency and crime: Current theories, (pp. 149-97). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Creating Australia (2014). Principles of community arts and cultural development. Sydney: Creating Australia.

McQueen-Thomson, D., James, P. & Ziguras, C. (2004). Promoting mental health and wellbeing through community and cultural development: a review of literature focusing on community festivals and celebrations. Melbourne: VicHealth.

Net Balance (2013). SROI Evaluation of the Beyond Empathy-Rites of Passage Project, NSW: Beyond Empathy. Retrieved from:

Wonderland Shire (2013). Wonderland Shire Council Plan 2013-2017, Wonderland: Wonderland Shire.

Wonderland Shire Cultural Development Department (2014). Cultural participation surveys, 2013-14, Wonderland: Wonderland Shire.

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