Community interventions are a recent development in the field of prevention. This study sought to address the current gap in this area, between scientific knowledge and community practice, through an understanding of practitioners’ experiences of implementation. A case study was undertaken to explore the context and complexity of implementation processes. Data was collected concurrently with the implementation of a community intervention located in rural Victoria, Australia, which aimed to reduce early school leaving. Implementers’ perspectives on a guide to best practice, developed from the academic literature, were sought. Concepts from systems theory and ecological approaches were combined to create a framework suitable for the analysis of the data. The intervention was viewed as an open system. Its progression from being a subsystem of the funded organization to a subsystem of both the funded organization and the community was examined. Factors such as meeting community needs and community members as program staff were found to facilitate community acceptance. The interactions within and between the subsystems of the intervention and the community were also explored. School retention rates were suggestive of some level of impact on school leaving. Additional positive outcomes were the facilitation and/or strengthening of links between community subsystems, and a perceived change within the funded organization. This thesis goes some way towards bridging the gap between science and practice in this field. Findings contribute to the debate regarding flexibility versus fidelity and a greater understanding of the unique challenges faced by rural interventions
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