Autonomy ensures local organisations can be creative, innovative and flexible in responding quickly to issues as they emerge and evolve, supporting approaches that meet the needs of a diverse society and empowering communities to identify and shape responses to their needs (SIEC Page 21).

Key features of an autonomous approach within the understanding and values of community development include the ability of organisations to:

  • Develop partnerships and collaborative arrangements and processes within the community sector and cross-sectorally.
  • Maintain and express a critical perspective in relation to policy and practice based on experience and practice and informed by work within the communities affected by such policy and practice.
  • Advocate and organise collectively for positive social change, including through calls for changes in policy and practice, campaigning and other legal routes.
  • Be responsive and flexible to changing and unexpected contexts and emerging challenges
  • Identify the most appropriate governance structure and appoint/elect members to that governance structure.

The Community Development Programme seeks to build positive, collaborative, open and transparent relationships with all stakeholders who have a responsibility and a remit to build an inclusive Ireland. Central to this is a recognition of and respect for the distinct and unique roles of all stakeholders and the importance of ensuring that the conditions are in place that allow them to fulfil these roles with integrity and transparency.