CDU launches Territory’s first measure of social capital
Charles Darwin University researchers have released the Northern Territory’s First Social Capital Index which shows that more than half (52 per cent) of the measured opportunities for community connection are being used by Territorians to build social capital.
The Social Capital Index gives values to the importance of community strength in making a good life for everyone in the Territory.
The index was constructed using responses from more than 3000 people surveyed in the Charles Darwin University (CDU) My Territory Connections Survey.
CDU Northern Institute Demographer, Research Associate Fiona Shalley said the Social Capital Index is an important tool for tracking positive social outcomes across our population and over time.
“Each year, the Territory has a high proportion of its population migrating from elsewhere or leaving to live elsewhere. Gaining an understanding of how social capital operates within this churn is incredibly relevant to our population circumstances,” Ms Shalley said.
“Social capital shows the importance of our community connections in building community resilience. It puts a value on how our communities come together when things get tough and the networks of support needed for this changing environment.”
“This includes valuing the little things like saying ‘hello’ to your neighbour and helping them out, as well as the bigger things like people volunteering, participating in community events, and turning up to have a say in community consultations,” she said.
To create the Social Capital Index, demographers used information gathered from the survey to show how Territorians are attached to the place where they live, whether they have developed strong networks of support, whether they participate in community and civic activities and their levels of tolerance and trust.
Ms Shalley said the survey will be repeated, and the index updated to determine if people feel more connected or less connected compared to the previous survey period.
“The Social Capital Index number probably doesn’t make that much sense in isolation, but it begins our commitment to tracking progress over time. This means we can check to see whether it changes, and we can think about what might be causing that change,” Ms Shalley said.
For this project, CDU’s Demographers have been working in partnership with the Northern Territory Government to help address gaps identified in the NT Social Outcomes Framework.
Ms Shalley said that governments, not just in the Territory but across the world are becoming more interested in measuring social capital.
“Governments are looking to measure not just economic progress, but also social progress in the form of social capital,” Ms Shalley said.
“A community’s social capital increases when we trust each other and when we trust our institutions of power and governance to provide the support we need,” she said.
A full report on the Social Capital Index and regional results from the My Territory Connections survey will be available here shortly.
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