About Deb Cummins

Dr Deborah Cummins is the founder and director of Bridging Peoples. She is the author of "Local Governance in Timor-Leste: Lessons in Postcolonial Statebuilding", published by Routledge. She has worked as a researcher and trainer on local governance issues in Timor-Leste, and lecturer at the National University of Timor-Leste (Timor-Leste), the University of Newcastle (Australia) and the University of New South Wales (Australia). She also worked for a number of years for Reconciliation Australia, an NGO promoting Indigenous reconciliation in Australia. She has published widely on various issues of local-level governance in Timor-Leste, including the interaction of customary and state-based governance, democratisation, women's leadership and community development.

January 2016

Let’s stop talking about soft skills!

By |January 17th, 2016|

People in the development industry love to talk about ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills – with the ‘real’ development work being carried out through use of ‘hard’ technical skills, leaving the ‘soft’ skills of community engagement, encouraging participation, and working in cultural and community context as perhaps desirable but not in the same league, and possibly just tacked on as an afterthought.

But […]

December 2015

Creating training programs with impact

By |December 21st, 2015|

OK, time for a bit of honesty… How many times have you sat through a training program where you were bored out of your mind? You were pleased to be out of the office for a day. You knew the topic was important for your work and wanted to learn about it. But you just […]

Worldview, epistemology and community-sensitive development

By |December 16th, 2015|

Back in 2011, together with a team of talented researchers in the department of Community Development at the National University of Timor-Leste, I worked on a research project investigating peoples’ perspectives of how development was implemented in their local community. Our group of community development lecturers and senior students conducted fieldwork in five different aldeia (subvillage, […]

May 2015

What is community-sensitive development?

By |May 14th, 2015|

Community-sensitive development is a term that I have coined to describe ways of working that put communities at the centre of development. I guess what I’ve tried to do is to capture in a single phrase the work that I’ve been doing over the past decade or […]

Introducing Bridging Peoples

By |May 14th, 2015|

Welcome to Bridging Peoples! I founded this organisation because I believe whole-heartedly that community-sensitive approaches to development can make development work better, and ultimately more satisfying. All of our work is focussed on promoting a single, basic idea: that development does not need to be introduced from ‘outside’, as part of a one-size-fits-all package. Drawing on […]