Dr Helen Sheil

Image of Helen Sheil

 Practitioner/Researcher/Educator/Writer/Facilitator of local knowledge into public planning. Director and founding member Centre for Rural Communities Inc.

Rural lifestyle is often on the fringe of planning. Something we love and are dependent on but leave to others (individuals and departments) to look after. My work over past decades has sought to create community hubs, enabling connection across barriers created by language, myths and legislation placing some groups as inferior to others – making us and our landscapes poorer.

Designer of a systematic approach to facilitate local involvement without dividing communities or sacrificing landscapes. The nine strategies within the ‘Model of Collaborative Engagement’ guided by the community development goals of caring for people and places (ecological sustainability and social justice) pays attention to the underpinning theory of practice, facilitating a transition from exclusion to inclusion, transforming relationships and understanding of our place in the world.

Regional futures, rural-urban partnerships, emergency management, the role of narratives in shaping ideas are key areas of interest/expertise.

This knowledge and approach is designed into cost-effective resources with proven long term outcomes. Documentation of impact of work accredited by Monash University as a post-graduate program is recorded in regional, national and international publications. Most recently used with rural communities in planning for emergency situations with community hubs in East Gippsland, primarily bush fires.  Award winner… Community preparedness: https://ruralcommunities.com.au/tag/awards/


  • Organiser of Stories of influence@Lake Tyers Beach – sharing untold stories publicly.
  • Member of Melbourne Centre of Literature – Regional Presenters Network http://cityofliterature.com.au/explore
  • Host of Emerging Writers Group: at ‘The Hub’ on Dalmohey Street, Bairnsdale.
  • Convenor of Lake Poetry collection on Lake Tyers (audio)
  • Reviewer – Radical Community Work Journal – Glasgow University rcwjournal.org/ojs
  • Referee for Community Journal – Borderlands https://ncq310.wixsite.com/new-community1
  • Member of FLOAT3909.com
  • Writer – of the guiding story..

Key passions: Professional pathways for regional community development workers, resilient regional futures, rural-urban partnerships, applying skills to Emergency Management, to protection and celebration of rural communities and landscapes.