A qualitative study of the role of playgroups in building community capacity


Keam, Georgia; Cook, Kay; Sinclair, Sarah; McShane, Ian


Issue addressed Given that approximately half of all Australian families with children aged 2-3 years participate in playgroups, these settings may provide an important venue for social support and community capacity building. The aim of this study is to assess the benefits that parents and the wider community derive from such participation. Methods We examined community capacity building opportunities through qualitative interviews conducted with a self-selected sample of 33 playgroup participants. All participants were the child's biological mother, and many had been involved in the playgroup committee of management, including 11 participants who were currently, or had previously been, a playgroup coordinator. Results We found that playgroups act as key sites for building community capacity through developing community connections, skill building and creating leadership pathways. We found that playgroup committee participation was often women's first foray into community volunteering, and often translated into future community leadership, such as kindergarten committees of management and primary school councils. Conclusions Community playgroups play a key role in building the capacity of communities and provide a vehicle for the development of new volunteers. So what? Local governments, schools and other community organisations that rely on volunteer committees would benefit from providing support to community playgroups to foster future community leaders.

Publication year


Publication type

Journal article


Health Promotion Journal of Australia, Vol. 29, no. 1 (Apr 2018), pp. 65-71






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