Abstract: This paper seeks to ascertain the usefulness of the theory of social capital as a framework for developing and sustaining the inclusion of people with disabilities and families in community life. We discuss the theoretical elements of social capital and assess its relevance when understanding both the experiences of people with disabilities and their families and the possible implications for policy and programme efforts to promote inclusion. Preliminary findings from two studies of the experiences and social networks of people with disabilities and their families in communities in regional and rural Australia are presented. It is argued that to date, people with disabilities and their families have largely been excluded from the broader social capital debate and that social capital thinking has had minimal influence on efforts to achieve the inclusion of people with disabilities into community life. It is further argued that new paradigms of support are needed that build capacity and social capital through working alongside individuals and families to influence not only outcomes for them, but also for the communities on which they live. The local area coordination model as it has developed in Australia since 1989 provides some instructive signposts for integrating individual, family and community approaches. It is concluded that social capital theory can make a contribution to inclusion theory and practice but we should use it with circumspection.