Australia Day

26 January 2015

87 days to go

Community Mapping

What is Local Community Mapping?

Local Community Mapping is a way of describing and assessing the functions and make up of a community. You access community knowledge, encourage community dialogue and collect information from a variety of local sources. As a result, much of the material you collect will be based on life experiences in your local community.

Local Community Mapping in this tool refers to ways to gather local knowledge from the perspectives of local people to provide you with a locally-based profile of the community. It should not be confused with the well-established research tool (also called Community Mapping) which has a fully developed methodology and is used by community development specialists and some local councils.

The importance of getting to know your local community

Australia Day events are created and designed with local communities firmly in mind. They are the outcome of local community energies, support from national, state and territory Australia Day councils, and support from local organisations, businesses, residents. 

Local Australia Day organisations and committee are made up of local residents who know their region. However, looking afresh at community resources and functions can identify new paths and avenues to explore in the overall objective of celebrating our pride in Australia and being Australian.

What can local Australia Day Organisers/Committees do to get to know their local community better?

There are three key sources of information:

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics - Basic Community Profiles
  2. Local councils - material on web sites and/or contact with local council members
  3. Local Community Mapping - gathering knowledge and experience of local community by using the templates and guides included in this tool.

1. ABS Basic Community Profiles

  • The ABS makes available to each local council (free of charge) a Basic Community Profile (BCP).This provides basic demographic information (about persons, families and dwellings).
  • BCPs are in Excel formatted tables.
  • BCPs cover a wide range of areas, from smallest areas (called a Collection District) up to the whole of Australia.
  • You can find BCPs on the ABS web site

2. Local councils and Community Profiles

  • Many councils post the ABS Basic Community Profile excel spread sheets on their own web sites.
  • Some councils create graphs and diagrams to make the Community Profile information more accessible and meaningful to the general community.
  • Some councils create Word documents based on interpretations of the ABS statistical data, which describe key features and patterns.

There is no consistent or uniform location of Community Profiles on local council web sites. However, most web sites have a search option, which might be a 'find' or 'search' or 'A-Z' index.

3. Local Community Mapping-for a local vision of the community

Why do Local Community Mapping?

Australia Day events and celebrations are created and organised in local areas which have quite unique events, resources, physical spaces and community infrastructure. While the events have common objectives (see About Australia Day), they also reflect and are a product of your local area.

What is the process?

Local Community Mapping involves:

  • inviting and recording responses and observations from community members about up to eight different components of a community (e.g. people, spaces, community services, cultural identity)
  • using the three or four questions to gather relevant information for each community component
  • creating a locally based description of features  of your community
  • using the information in conjunction with other tools to plan for future celebrations.

This mapping process might be more helpful for organisers of larger communities, although even smaller communities are subject to change and transformation, and can benefit from this exercise. 

Local Community Mapping diagram

The ultimate objective of Local Community Mapping is to produce a record of responses and use these to provide insights into your local community.

This diagram divides the community into eight components and shows how they interlink.

Knowing Your Community image



1. People

2. Opportunities

3. Spaces and locations

4. Groups

5. Cultural Identity

6. Community Services

7. Sources of Information

8. Employment & Industry

This diagram is also included in Community Mapping Templates downloads below, along with guiding questions for each component. You can use the diagram for mapping, as well as the area provided to note your findings.

What information could this mapping provide?

The mapping may:


  • groups that might be interested in becoming involved in celebrations and events
  • groups (including leaders and decision makers) that could be invited to talk to organisers about what they would like and value
  • sources of support that have not been previously recognised
  • community leaders, potential sources of volunteer and participant contributions
  • underutilised resources in the community

Highlight visions and cultural points of view that a statistically-based community profile cannot

Provide a sound basis for greater sustainability of committees and their work support and encourage greater social cohesion amongst diversity and

Be fun.

Identifying groups and skill bases will not automatically bring action or engagement. You must decide how to best use the insights of the local community mapping to take Australia Day event planning forward. 

Two examples of use of information from the mapping

Young people music sessions image



Example 1


The committee would like to see more young people at the Australia Day celebrations, tap this potential, and achieve greater inclusion.


  • You would need to consider how you might initially engage with the young people
  • You might simply ask the young people if they would like to have a chat about possible events and/or their feelings about Australia Day celebrations in the local community
  • You might organise a small event that could initially attract young people (e.g. rap competition, air guitar competition or a guitar designing competition).

Unexpected outcome

  • Given the generally quite high level of IT literacy amongst young people, you might find that some of the group is willing to contribute to promotion, publicity, web communication and new styles of performance.
Inclusive image



Example 2

Local Community Mapping may identify groups (and leaders), suggesting the opportunity for an informal discussion which may in turn lead to greater inclusion.

By creating a more descriptive and experience-based picture of the local community, and also using the statistical ABS material (the BCP) and local council profiles, you may identify new possibilities for engaging whole-of-community.

This process could result in enhanced and unique Australia Day celebrations reflective of the local community while also expressing the sense of belonging to a nation of diversity-an objective of Australia Day celebrations.