Project Insights: Building Connections: Schools as Community Hubs

Published: Wednesday 30 March 2022

Schools are some of Australia's most under-utilised assets. During and outside school hours, school facilities can accommodate community sport, recreation and health services, but this is not common.

In the next decade, Australia will build up to 700 new schools to match population growth. This presents a major opportunity to apply new knowledge about how the built environment can support more connected and resilient communities by promoting the development of Schools as Community Hubs.

Linking research, policy and practice, the Building Connections project is informing better design and sharing of school infrastructure to build stronger communities. Based at The University of Melbourne, with an interdisciplinary research team including members from RMIT University, the project has been funded from 2019-2022 with $495,000 from Partner Organisations and $629,331 from the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects scheme. 

The project’s research activities include:

The Building Connections team will be running a masterclass at the LEA Conference in June. Other projectoutcomes will include:

  1. How to Hub AustraliaA framework for building schools as community hubs.
    Available in second-half 2022, this suite of online resources will provide evidence and advice for state governments, independent school systems, local councils, schools and partners, to help overcome obstacles that commonly limit the use of school facilities for broader community benefit. 

  2. Schools as Community Hubs: Building ‘more than a school’ for community benefit.
    Available in second-half 2022, this is an edited book of 24 chapters by leading researchers and industry practitioners. Editors: Cleveland, Chandler, Clinton, McShane, Newton and Backhouse. Publisher: Springer (open access)

  3. Sharing Schools, Building Communities
    In this public exhibition from 18 July – 26 August 2022 in the Dulux Gallery at the Melbourne School of Design, we will present evidence-based reflections and provocations about how we can design, govern and use school infrastructure to better meet the needs of Australian communities. The exhibition is designed for built environment professionals, policymakers, school leaders and teachers, philanthropists and the broader community.

To stay updated on the project outcomes and build your connection to the project team, follow Building Connections on LinkedIn and/or Twittersubscribe to the newsletter, or email