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BCN Logo 2020 - Cirle on it's own transp


Image - Circle of Support

What is the Building Community Networks Project?

The Building Community Networks (BCN) is an initiative of Belonging Matters that is based on two concepts, Circles of Support and Valued Social Roles.


Over 25 years ago, the idea of Circles of Support originated in Canada and since then have been used widely in many countries as an idea and practice to intentionally invite people to come together in friendship and support of a person with a disability. Circles of Support harness the goodwill, knowledge and connections of community members rather than viewing the person as a service recipient. They can also be a useful safeguard for the future.

Roles Based Practice assists in enabling, establishing, enhancing and maintaining valued social roles for people who are often marginalised and not afforded the same opportunities as other citizens in the community to pursue employment, career pathways, a home of their own, civic contribution, study, personal growth, friendships, spirituality, purpose and well-being. Roles Based Practice is an approach that combines the most beneficial components of person-centred practice to the critical thought base associated with Social Role Valorisation and to practices that aim to improve the social status, inclusion and employment of people with a disability (Scott Ramsey, 2007).

BCN is important because it can assist people to:

  • Lead a lifestyle that is typical and common to most people in the community.

  • Pursue the same aspirations, opportunities, places, pathways and rhythms as most people would expect.

  • Pursue valued roles based on one's uniques interests, gifts, and strengths in community places.

  • Pay careful attention to role development and enhancement.

  • Maintain high expectations for growth throughout one’s lifespan.

  • Enhance a person's independence and learn new skills.

  • Foster freely given relationships with a range of people. 

  • Avoid practices that reinforce negative stereotypes.

  • Reduce reliance on systems, services or funding.

  • Provide advocacy and an important safeguard for the future.

Who is Building Community Networks for?

Priority will be given to people with an intellectual disability and/or Autism (and their families/carers) who:

  • Are committed to the development of socially inclusive pathways and valued social roles,

  • Want to pursue a unique life,

  • Do not wish to pursue special programs or segregated/congregate pathways,

  • Can commit to six network meetings during a twelve month period,

  • Can and want to establish a network of unpaid supporters,

  • Have at least 4 active and committed members who can attend meetings throughout the year to assist the focus person to pursue their vision and valued roles in the community,

  • Have network members who are willing to confront negative stereotypes and assumptions that may limit potential, valued social roles and community inclusion.

  • Have at last one member of their network able to attend the two day “Towards a Better Life" course,

  • Are willing to participate in a project evaluation and provide feedback about the process.


Please note there are no age requirements. You are never too young or too old to create a good life.

How Does Building Community Networks Work?

Each focus person will identify four or more, non- paid supporters or members e.g. family, friends, allies who are willing to journey with them and attend their Circle of Support or network meetings. Throughout 2017, the focus person will be hold six network meetings at a time and place that is preferable to them and their network.


Belonging Matters will provide a trained Facilitator who will help the focus person, with the support of their network, to elicit their vision for a full, meaningful and inclusive life and the actions and steps required to move towards their vision.


The role of the Facilitator is to assist the focus person and their network to come together, think through possibilities, identify goals, overcome challenges or barriers, identify actions and review their efforts. The most important action of BCN is that it is done 'with' the focus person and their network as a means to empower, build capacity, enable valued contribution to the community and safeguard the future. It is not done “for” people!

What is Provided?

Belonging Matters will provide a trained Facilitator who will:

  • Discuss the BCN project and the principles that guide it.

  • Have a meet and greet session with the focus person (and family) at the start of the year to get to know them, discuss how their network will work, where it will meet, best times and who they would like to invite.

  • Facilitate 6 network meetings within a calendar year at which the Facilitator will:

    • Touch base with th key person before each meeting to agree on arrangements or other matters of importance

    • Listen and facilitate conversation at the network meetings

    • Assist network members to elicit and hold a vision for the focus person to pursue valued roles and a typical and inclusive life in the community.

    • Record the agreed actions and send a copy to the focus person and/or other key persons to distribute to the network within 1-2 weeks.

    • Guide the network to review agreed actions and roles at each meeting

    • Provide information

    • Challenge and stretch people to reach their potential in the community

  • Based on information from the focus person and network members, develop an annual plan which captures the focus person's vision, aspirations and goals.

  • Assist the network to review their progress at the end of 12 months

  • Offer information and advice about connecting people to the community but will not provide on-the-ground implementation support or support workers.


Circles of Support can be funded through an NDIS Plan.


For Further Information

For further information about BCN please email Teresa

or phone our office: 03 97398333

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