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Melbourne Centre for Community Development

The centre is dedicated to social research and education that supports communities and prepares their future leaders. Its research output is published in books and articles available free to the public in digitalised versions. We also design post-graduate educational programmes oriented towards community leadership and social research. In addition, our members are involved in various community projects.


J. Donald R. de Raadt has taught in universities in Australia, the USA and Sweden. In 1993 he was appointed as professor by the Swedish government and held the Chair in Informatics and System Science at Luleå Tekniska Universitet for twelve years. He has served as President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (USA), President of the Swedish Operational Research Society and Vice-President of the International Federation for Systems Research in Vienna. He has played a leading international role in systems science and philosophy and developed an ethical approach directed towards community development and a humane life. He is the author of several books; his research has been published in most of the international systems journals and presented in conference papers; and he has been guest key-note speaker in Australia, USA, Europe and Latin America.

Veronica D. de Raadt qualified as a social worker in Australia and after earning a masters degree in the US, worked in domestic violence and mental health. To add to her skills in the human services, she earned her doctoral degree in Sweden and studied human factors in community development in remote communities. The results are summarized in her book Ethics and Sustainable Community Design. In Sweden she also taught psychology, sociology and research methods at Luleå Tekniska Universitet and worked with EU-funded community development projects. She founded, together with her husband, the Institute for Management and Social Systems in Sweden, now operating in Australia as the Melbourne Centre for Community Development. Her research has been published in the main systems journals and been presented at international conferences in Europe and the US.

Xinyan Wee (BA, MTeach, GradDipArts) is an educator whose research interests include the systemic impact of education, child development and humanistic pedagogy. Her teaching experience is extensive, having taught students of diverse levels and backgrounds ranging from primary to tertiary institutions in both Singapore and Australia. This has given her the opportunity to engage and work with a variety of education philosophies, notably, the Steiner and Emilia-Reggio programs. Currently an adjunct lecturer with SIM University in Singapore, she is also the founder and editor of a Singapore-based youth publication, inkq, as well as a co-founder of a literacy project, Once Upon a Monday, offering creative English enrichment to children from lower socioeconomic demographics for free.

Christian Maciel De Britto (BA, MA, D.Soc.) is a Brazilian sociologist. His research applies Multimodal Systems Thinking to study issues related to the sustainable development of communities. He is a member of the research group in Epistemology and Environmental Sociology and of the Centre for Rural Studies of Parana (both recognized by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil). He also works in partnership with NGO's such as YWAM (Youth With a Mission) and Harvest Foundation teaching theoretical and practical community development principles.

Sue-Lee Seng (Bachelor of Architecture, Grad Diploma in Community Development Programme) worked as an architect from 2004-2011. She has been volunteering since 2007 in Melbourne teaching underprivileged children in the inner-city public housing estates good moral principles in a fun and positive environment. In 2009, she went to China to help the local farmers harvest potatoes with a team of volunteers. She has also volunteered with an architecture not-for-profit organisation in 2007 to help build latrines in Solomon Islands after the community was stricken by a tsunami in 2007. She founded RIAH in 2011, a community-based hairstyle business which funds and raises awareness of needs in her social spheres of influence. She currently works as a children’s pastor and a community developer in Melbourne.


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de Raadt, J. D. R. (Ed. Veronica D. de Raadt) (2017) The Rise of Bureaucracy and the Decline of Work – their Roots in the 2nd and 3rd Century Church. Melbourne, Melbourne Centre for Community Development.

At the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. the leadership of the church was passed on to the Early Fathers who began adapting the Gospel to their own Hellenic culture. Over a period of just one and a half centuries, they converted the communities founded by the apostles into a bureaucracy and their work into worship. They also imported theology from neo-platonism and relegated the natural sciences and the humanities – both essential for work – to secularism. From then on, Christianity became equally ineffective to combat the barbarism of Rome, mediaevalism and now modernity.

This is a study about how the Early Fathers went wrong. Examining their writings is no easy task, but it is necessary that we should understand their mistakes, for they had long lasting effects that extend to our day. Much of modern individualism, social fragmentation and ambiguity about what it means to be human are rooted in the Hellenic way of thinking that they brought into Christendom. The book has been written for university students, but it is of interest to anyone concerned about the education of our youth. 

de Raadt, J. D. R. (2015) Information and Managerial Wisdom (Second Edition). Melbourne, Melbourne Centre for Community Development.

This book examines concepts of informatics – such as dis-information, noise and uncertainty generated by global interconnectivity – that explain the destabilising effect of information technology on society. These concepts are derived from cybernetics and are pedagogically presented to provide students an understanding of the social and cultural context of information. This should help them apply information technology in subservience to human endeavours rather than the contemporary practise of the reverse.

Mobirise Raadt has produced a highly readable text which enjoins us to modify the approach that we use to solve our world problems. He should be commended for his effort: it follows in the tradition of famous predecessors such as Stafford Beer and Geoffrey Vickers who have trodden similar territory.


de Raadt, J. D. R. and de Raadt, Veronica D. (2014) From Multi-Modal Systems Thinking to Community Development: Regaining our Humanity through Community. Melbourne, Melbourne Centre for Community Development.

This book is an edited collection of papers – written by the authors over a period of twenty years – that describes the transition from a system approach to thinking to educational programmes focused on community development. Multi-modal systems thinking integrates the humanities to inspire people to live fully, socially and ethically. The book covers both theory and practical application and gives an account of the authors' design of university programmes and their work in community based projects and research. It has been put together to serve as a text in community development, social analysis and methods courses. But it should be of interest to all professionals including educators, social workers and community practitioners concerned with the crisis in our communities and who wish to add a social and ethical dimension to their practice

...a very well polished book...a remarkable summary of the historical thinking... developed over the years and a good collection of some of the best theory in multi-modal systems thinking.


de Raadt, J. D. R. (2013) Intelligent Christianity for an Age of Folly. Melbourne, Melbourne Centre for Community Development.

This is a book for people, Christians and non-Christians alike, who are disgruntled with the incongruities of post-modernity and who are willing to engage in some serious thinking to understand what is happening to us and what should be done about it. The author argues that, despite our material achievements, modern man has regressed to medieval thinking. He then introduces the historical reasoning of the Bible and the Christian humanists to which we are indebted for much of the scientific and cultural advances of the West. Intelligent Christianity turns out to be a lay Christianity not only because Jesus instituted it this way, but because today's society needs it as much as in his times. Although no quick solution is provided, the author illustrates the practical value of historical reason through an account of his own application to redesigning university education in Australia, USA and Sweden.

Offers a very good foundation to a systemic and truly Christian way of thinking that merges scientific approach with practice. There is fresh insights from thinkers like Juan Carlos Vives, Eramus, Melanchton, John Calvin, and De Raadt himself, that helps to understand better the role of a real Christian in a real society including all of it's areas. It's a must read!


de Raadt, Veronica D. (2002) Ethics and Sustainable Community Development. Parkland, Florida, Universal Publishers.

Sustainable communities depend on ethical people. This book explains how multi-modal systems thinking can be applied to ethical and normative issues of community life. It also provides a practical way forward by using the methodology and SmCube software for social systems analysis and design.

These are presented in an extensive case study of life in Rosvik, a village in northern Sweden, where a group of villagers struggle to sustain their village against the loss of people and economic resources to large industrial centres of the south. The book examines the predicament which villagers are struggling with and provides a design of activities to revitalise the village, challenge its leadership and retain the next generation.
Ethics and Sustainable Community Design will be of interest to managers, community activists, social workers and anyone interested in a new scientific tool that preserves the humanity of community life against mechanisation and an industrialised world view.


de Raadt, J. D. R. (2000) Redesign and Management of Communities in Crisis. Parkland, Universal Publishers.

The author presents a method to identify the primary factors that are threatening communities, to collect information about such factors, organise it and analyse it. More importantly, leaders can develop models to examine how factors interact with each other to sustain or to threaten the viability of a community. These models can also be used to redesign and manage the community and ensure its long-term viability.
Although solidly based on theory, the object of this book is fully practical. The method is illustrated with a real life application to Boden (a town in northern Sweden), furthermore, it incorporates an especially designed computer modelling tool (separately distributed) to assist its application.
While the focus is on communities, the method can also be applied to other social systems, such as business organisations, voluntary associations, and government departments. The book should be of interest to managers, project leaders and other community leaders.

...the appeal of the book should be universal. It basically answers two questions: a Why? and a How?...Professor de Raadt shows us, with practical examples, how one can draw on religious convictions to achieve great things for humanity by realigning community life along normative lines using his excellent methodology. Do not just read this valuable and inspiring book; put it to practice!

A powerful message, - insightful and inspiring! De Raadt addresses the nexus between what we believe and what we achieve. He presents a diagnosis of the crisis of community, but he also outlines a path to weathering it. This book is a must for any responsible leader.


de Raadt, J. D. R. (2001) A Method and Software for Designing Viable Social Systems. Parkland, Universal Publishers. (Software included in zip file)

This companion book to Redesign and Management of Communities in Crisis explains step-by-step a method to identify the primary factors threatening communities, to collect information about such factors, organise it, analyse it and design counteractions. It also includes hands-on tutorial exercises. The presentation is fully integrated with SmCube, a software package developed to analyse and design social systems. The integration has two benefits. Firstly, SmCube assists the systems designer apply the method. Secondly, SmCube is also a learning tool: it helps new users understand the multi-modal systems method and methodology. Used together, the two books and software provide excellent analytical and design tools for managers, community leaders and corporate planners. They may also be used as class material for courses in social systems design.

SmCube was developed with support from the Swedish Defence Forces and has been applied in community project evaluations associated with the European Commission.


de Raadt, J. D. R. (1998) A New Management of Life. Toronto Series in Theology (Vol. 75). Lampeter, Wales, Edwin Mellen.

This volume introduces a new approach to science that seeks to understand life and its management in a prophetic manner. This approach regards the soul and the mind as indivisible parts of humanity. There cannot be an educated mind without an educated soul. It proposes a new model for management to sustain and develop work, arts, families, government, industries.

...exposure to the ideas found in this book will greatly benefit tomorrow's managers and leaders as they prepare themselves for the challenge they will face.

...a courageous, original, and timely contribution to a forgotten and most important ethical perspective on systems science and management.

I have found de Raadt's work to offer profound scholarly insight into many of the problems we face today in the management of the Information Revolution and its impact on society. He provides a uniquely Christian perspective on systems science, and suggests application to wise living and management, of the individual and the enterprise.


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de Britto, Christian Maciel 2011 Sustainable Community Development: A Brief Introduction to the Multi-Modal Systems Method.  Systemic Practice and Action Research, 24: 509- 521
de Raadt, J. D. R. 1997 Design of an Undergraduate Programme in Informatics and Systems Science. Proceedings, 14th International Conference of the World Association for Case Research Methods and Case Methods Application, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
de Raadt, J. D. R 1997 Faith and the Normative Foundation of Systems Science.  Systems Practice, 10: 13-35.
de Raadt, J. D. R. 2006 Samaritan Ethics, Systems Science and Society. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 19: 489-500.
de Raadt, J. D. R. 2010 Desarrollo Humanista de las Ciencias Sistémicas y su Aplicación Práctica a la Renovación de Comunidades en Crisis, especialmmente en Regiones Rurales. Conferencia de Apertura. 6 Congreso Brasilero de Sistemas, Universidade Estadual do Oeste do Paraná, Foz do Iguazú.
de Raadt, J. D. R. 2011 Community Development and Renaissance Social Humanism - Some Lessons for Systems Science Systemic Practice and Action Research, 24: 509- 521.
de Raadt, J. D. R. 2014 ¿Quo vadis? Where are the University and Science Going?  10th Brazilian Systems Congress, University of Sáo Paulo, Ribeiráo Preto, 2014.
de Raadt, J. D. R. 2018 Cybernetic Reasoning and the Ethics of Living and Work. Plenary Address, 14th Brazilian Systems Congress, International Society for the Systems Sciences. Federal University of Goiás, Brazil.
de Raadt, J. D. R. 2018 Razonamiento Cybernético y la Ética del Vivir y Trabajar. Conferencia Plenaria, 14o Congreso Brasilero de Sistemas, International Society for the Systems Sciences. Universidad Federal de Goiás, Brasil.
de Raadt, J. D. R. and de Raadt, Veronica D. 2004 Normative Evaluation of Community Projects: A Multimodal Systems Approach. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 17: 83-102.
de Raadt, J. D. R. and de Raadt, Veronica D. 2004 Where there is No Vision the People Perish: Ethical Vision and Community Sustainability. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 22: 233-247.
de Raadt, J. D. R. and de Raadt, Veronica D. 2008 Arresting the Collapse of the City Through Systemic Education: A Case Study of Melbourne. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 21: 299-322.
Lu, Xiaohui 2008 Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Paintings of Women in the Household: The Case Study of Pieter de Hooch. BA Honours Thesis, University of Melbourne.
Seng, Sue-Lee 2011 A Sustainable Community Design for Richmond Public-Housing Estate. Melbourne Centre for Community Development.
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