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Governance in the Gaps: Inter-agency Action in a Rural Town

  • Year: 2006
  • Author: Eversole, Robyn; Scholfield, Kaye
  • Journal Name: Rural Society
  • Journal Number: Vol. 16, No. 3
  • Country: Australia

It is generally understood that local people with local knowledge and a longterm interest in their area are uniquely equipped to create sustainable solutions to local needs. At the same time, higherlevel support and resourcing is often needed to make 'grassroots' solutions work. Current governance models thus posit a facilitatory vertical relationship between government agencies and local actors in which the former devolves responsibility and resources to the latter - often characterised as the quest for greater 'local participation.' Questions are frequently raised, however, about the amount of local autonomy that is actually achievable within these vertical governance frameworks. How can locals influence the larger contexts in which they work? This paper discusses and reflects upon several recent local experiences of inter-agency action in a rural Australian town. As local organisations come together to tackle common issues and themes at the local level, they create new governance spaces that lie outside of existing government and organisational bureaucracies. What is the potential for such arrangements to leverage local influence over existing higher-level structures, and to what extent is local action still constrained?

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