Community Pulse Project

Active Project? No
Year Project Began: 2001
Year of Last Input: 2011
Last Updated: Jul 31 2017
Project Location:
City of Port Phillip
State / Province:
Lead Organization:
City of Port Phillip
Type of Organization:

Geographic Scope


Issue Areas

Arts and Culture, Children & Youth, Civic Engagement, Climate Change, Economy, Education, Employment, Environment, Equity, Governance, Health & Wellbeing, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Poverty, Public Safety, Recreation, Social, Transportation, Population


The Community Pulse project is a social indicators project committed to stimulating social change through community engagement. The Community Pulse involves community members in collecting and analysing data on what ‘really matters to them’.
By feeding this data back up the food to chain to policy makers, the Community Pulse supports the work of community members and groups to effect the changes they would like to see in their community. The Community Pulse collects data on over 40 measures from a wide range of sources to present a regular and relevant picture of how our community is fairing.

Project background

The Community Pulse is founded on a rich, cross-disciplinary theory developed from studies undertaken in the last quarter of the 20th century by sociologists (Wilkinson et al, 1998), social epidemiologists (Marmot, 1998), economists (Sen 1987, 1992), political scientists (Putnam). Their integrated work has galvanised the view that the health and wellbeing of an individual and a community cannot be judged by ‘how much’ but rather ‘how good’ (Badham, 2009).
In 2001 we asked community members how they would know if their community was getting better or worse. We asked them to think about what sort of data could help them tracks those changes. This community consultation led to the identification and establishment of 13 key indicators representing aspects of the local natural, built, social, economic and cultural environment.
Since that time a diverse range of community members and groups contribute to the collection and analysis of over 40 measures, including ‘smiles per hour’, ‘bush and water bird species in Albert Park, ‘how kids get to school’, ‘the availability and affordability of a healthy shopping basket’.

Theoretical underpinnings

Socio –political research demonstrates general forms of community engagement prepare people for more complex forms of civic engagement and problem solving (Perkins et al. 1996, Verba et al.1995, Baum et al. 1999). Moreover, community members are more likely to become engaged in the fate of their community when they are able to determine of their own measures of success (Badham, 2009). In this way the Community Pulse’s participatory methodology provides both a vocabulary and a vehicle for positive and multi-directional feedback between the City of Port Phillip council and community, a means of communication that gives people experience in how to assess issues, appreciate public policy debates, and take action to get things done, including the design, development and delivery of services (Verba et al.1995, Perkins et al. 1996). Consequently services and infrastructure are better tailored to need, the community has greater faith in the process of local government and the City of Port Phillip council has greater faith in the community’s commitment to their vision for the future.

Mission statement

The Community Pulse aims to engage residents, workers and visitors in creating a healthy and resilient community by giving them control of determining their own measures of success.


The Community Pulse will continue to support the identification and articulation of community imperatives through the demonstrable collection of data tracking the sustainability of integral aspects of Port Phillip’s natural, built, social, economic and cultural environment. The Community Pulse will provide a means of positive, multidirectional feedback between community members and The City of Port Phillip council to promote its more effective respond to community visions.

The Community Pulse is at the beginning of an exciting new phase. Following the recommendations of the Project Evaluation, the Community Pulse will become more formally integrated with the City of Port Phillip’s Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan . The Community Pulse will assist health planning by continuing to support the identification and articulation of community imperatives through engaging community to track the sustainability of integral aspects of our environment. The Community Pulse data and analysis will be shared with decison-makers and policy shapers to provide the foundations for further collaboration in creating healthy, sustainable communities.

Project URL

Project Contact:

Alicia Hooper
City of Port Phillip - Educational Organization
St Kilda, Vic, 3182 Australia

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