All posts in Community Engagement

Community Engagement Toolkit for Planning

In 2017, the Minister’s Guidelines and Rules under the new Planning Act 2016 came into effect.  These changes prescribe a higher level of engagement and for earlier engagement to be done by local governments.

They also require that the communications plan (comprising communications and engagement) must be “prepared having regard to the department’s Community Engagement Toolkit for Planning”.

Articulous Communications and Leisa Prowse Consulting worked on the development of the Community Engagement Toolkit for Planning with DILGP.

Some key points to consider if you’re a state department, state agency, local council or a developer:

  • The new Queensland Planning Act provides community and key stakeholders the opportunity to actively contribute to the planning process in a manner that is effective, inclusive and respectful of local values.
  • The Community Engagement Toolkit builds upon the good work done by local government and provides a central location for information about current trends in engagement techniques, the benefit of tools when engaging with the community about planning and development assessment, as well as relevant case studies.
  • Cities that have embraced opportunities for the community and key stakeholders to actively contribute to the planning process have succeeded in building places that are celebrated for their enhanced livability, prosperity and inclusiveness.
  • Councils that already use best practice engagement strategies have seen the important role they play in building rapport with their community as well as improving investment and community confidence.
  • It provides a framework that supports efficient, consistent and confident decision-making.

Over time, the kit will be recognised as the main repository for leading practice community engagement in Queensland for the planning system

As Australia’s preeminent community engagement consultancy, Articulous Communications, led by founder and managing director Amanda Newbery, has developed a number of frameworks and policies in engagement at local, state and national levels.

This includes:

  • co-developing key pieces of the intellectual property now embedded in the international quality assurance standards for engagement and the Australian certificate course
  • developing the national online engagement program that has been used by councils and governments for the past three years
  • co-developing the Victorian government’s framework for engaging in the waste sector for MWRRG

Articulous Communications is on the preferred supplier lists for state and local government agencies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and New Zealand.

Visit Leisa Prowse Consulting

Five things every community engagement person should stop doing

Every day and in every industry we are continually adding ideas or processes. But so often we forget to delete.

When we review or audit community and stakeholder engagement within organisations, we see how passionate our engagement colleagues are. Their passion for engagement means we’re adding innovations and improvements every day.

But what should we be deleting from our engagement practice?

  1. Outdated processes – legislation is being updated every year in different sectors and states. If your engagement policy or framework was completed more than 5 years ago, it may need updating. Since then, we’ve seen new legislation, policies and standards introduced at the national level, as well as the state level in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
  2. Newspaper notices – unless it’s required by legacy legislation, a newspaper notice is simply not enough to attract community attention. Very few people read newspapers and even fewer read the notices section.
  3. Burn out of great professionals – at the IAP2’s last engagement conference, I was moved to tears by tales of great engagement professionals who felt burnt out and traumatised by having to work with daily angry, aggressive or bullying behaviours. We need to make sure our colleagues are supported and encouraged on those tough projects.
  4. Jargon – yes, even engagement people can over-use jargon. So if you find you’re spending too much time talking about scope, deliberative, collaborative partnerships, levels of engagement, the DPM, honeycomb profiles and more … then stop and translate to your project teams.
  5. Engaging solely on problems – if you’re only engaging when things are contentious or there’s a risk, then you need to stop. We could spend an entire blog talking about this, but in essence it causes (a) a failure to engage on topics that the whole community wants to engage on (b) an engagement capacity gap – where we unintentionally build the skills of those who always turn up, and diminish the engagement skills of those who don’t (c) we don’t ask the right questions of community (d) our innovation is focused on problems rather than opportunity (e) it can create a false sense of what community really thinks

If you’d like to keep up with the latest in engagement strategies, why not enrol in the Strategies for Complex Engagement course.

We know how to manage complex change

Climate change is an issue facing all of us. Community awareness and engagement around how to deal with climate change is something that a number of councils are working towards.

Articulous recently worked with Moreton Bay Regional Council to plan how to engage with their local communities to communicate climate change related risk and build resilience.

The Council’s objective was to prepare the community for the more frequent, larger and longer lasting extreme weather events that Australia is experiencing, including heatwaves and sea level rises.

In the case of heatwaves, this pattern is expected to increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths in Australia, particularly within more `at risk’ community sectors, including the elderly, the very young, people with a disability, CALD communities, low income households, and those with existing illnesses.

Sea levels on the east coast of Australia are currently predicted to rise by 1m by the end of this century.

Through its engagement, Moreton Bay Regional Council aimed to:

  1. Raise awareness within the community (particularly `at risk’ groups) of the very real risks that extreme weather event related conditions pose to health, safety and property
  2. Facilitate behaviour change that practically builds both individual and community level preparedness for climate change related extreme weather events and in doing so reduces their impact on health, safety and property

At Articulous we really enjoy working with the challenges that the future presents us, particularly with the ‘tough’ projects like dealing with climate change.

When engagement gets tricky: tips to get you across the line

When engagement gets tricky: tips to get you across the line

A question we hear time and time again from our clients is how to tackle difficult engagement.

Whether it be highly emotional issues, opposing viewpoints, lack of strategic direction, or differing levels of commitment – engagement can stop short in its tracks without the right approach.

The following tips will help you to navigate often tricky situations:

  1. Understand your stakeholders and their needs. Undertake a risk analysis to ensure you know their key issues, concerns, requirements and how you might approach the engagement.
  2. Have clear objectives around the engagement, don’t stray away from what you are trying to achieve. This is when things can become challenging.
  3. As the engagement progresses, be prepared to make changes. Engagement pathways can change depending on influencing factors such as political or social environments.
  4. Treat everyone with respect, give them equal voices and make them feel heard. You may need to make tough decisions along the way, but your process will be respected.
  5. Keep records, follow up, communicate outcomes and be willing to accept feedback on your approach.
  6. Try to keep the emotion out of it. Stakeholders can get emotional about an issue, but as professionals your job is to be objective with your approach.
  7. When you feel your engagement is not fulfilling its objectives, or there’s a lack of commitment, review what you’ve done and re-assess your strategy. Don’t be afraid to take a different approach.

Why live community forums are making a comeback

In the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of attending a number of live community forums in South East Queensland. While attending these forums it struck me how much has changed in community engagement practices in the past ten years. More recently live community forums, with open invitations, seem to be making a comeback.

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Why staff, stakeholders and community are better at innovation: 5 Insights

The development of new app that will streamline compliance processes costs and save millions to an energy organisation, creation of a centralised system to map capability to automate HR processes, financial commitment by disparate parties to create a regional ecosystem to drive innovation on the ground. In working across innovation, digital economies and smart city work across the country, here are 5 key insights.

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Let’s talk Citizens’ Juries – with Max Hardy

Citizens’ Juries have proven to be quite versatile for a range of issues and decisions. More recently I have seen some citizens’ juries address more open ended questions, providing directions for long term planning, and identifying principles to inform policy development.

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Good Engagement Practice leads to Safer Communities.

Articulous has been fortunate to be working on a number of projects in 2017 in the Rockhampton and Yeppoon areas and our best wishes go out to residents affected by flooding as a result of Cyclone Debbie.

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Could a conversation with a computer change how we engage?

Conversational User Interfaces (CUIs), more commonly known as voice recognition tools or chatbots, have big implications for engagement professionals, and we should be excited – very excited. The question on my lips is not whether the rise of conversational interfaces can help us to engage, but how we can best use them to engage in meaningful ways.

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Citizen Democracy – making it work for Australians

This appears to be the most opportune time in modern history for citizen based democratic processes to become more prevalent. As perhaps illustrated by a rise in populist politics like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, that pay little regards to complexities, citizens are seeking answers that they are yet see from mainstream politics. However, this potential comes with limitations.

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Could non-verbal expressions add value to an engagement campaign?

Communication is so much more than the spoken word. While many of us like to verbalise how we feel or think, it’s often the expressions that go with our words that add meaning. The question begs then, could we analyse only those expressions to gather rich and meaningful data?

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What will be your Project Legacy?

If I mention the term project legacy, what do you think of? A statue? A plaque? Maybe it’s just the evidence of the project itself? Creating a legacy is so much more than the tangible results that are left behind on construction projects. Long after your team has left a project behind, they can (and should) leave a legacy.

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Consultation does not necessarily mean that the community gets what it wants.

There have been a few projects in the media of late where community groups have lamented a lack of consultation on projects prior to delivery. Many of these projects have centred on construction and development but a few have involved policy development in areas as diverse as energy, water supply and even the definition of marriage. However diverse the topics, one thing stood out as being in common.

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Why a Sesame Street explanation of Empathy Should be at the Centre of your Community Engagement Practice

In community engagement, we talk a lot about collecting people’s ideas and feedback. We talk about the power of active listening. But, if you really believe in community and engaging at a deeper, more meaningful level, then empathy should be the key focus throughout your planning, strategising and most importantly-engagement activity.

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Facing the Music can build Community Trust

I recently had the pleasure of travelling throughout the Surat Basin in south west Queensland with a client of Articulous for a week, facilitating community information sessions. There were a few key lessons that I took away from that week that I thought were worth sharing, purely from a practical perspective.

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Big Data or Human Data?

Much is made of big data and data-driven communication. But so very little is spoken of human data. So what is the difference?

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Does Online Community Engagement just mean having a Facebook page?

It can, but it doesn’t have to. There are heaps of tools, here are just some and how they’re being used.

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How to stop the Conversation Block!

Some people thrive on blank slates. Others respond better if they are given context, background and solutions. Either way you need to know your objectives and stimulate the conversation.

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New York, Where a City’s Identity Lies in its Community

New York is intricate, alive, passionate, and evolving. What became clearer to me on this journey was how the decisions of the community can have long-lasting and positive effects on a city’s identity.

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