Engaging in the field: How training can help you to feel safe and confident

Community engagement supports our society to progress fairly and equitably.
By engaging with the public frequently, openly and transparently, public servants ensure that community members are aware of upcoming developments in their area, are informed in times of crisis and are armed with the knowledge to understand how to use and access the social services they’re entitled to.  
In turn, communities engage back – providing their opinions and feedback, and advising us as to how we can make their experiences more connected, safe and accessible. But is it possible that the very thing designed to empower and reduce harm to community members, can harm us back? 

Thankfully, most community engagement activities never turn hostile. In fact, most people don’t realise that they’re being engaged with, even in the very moment that they’re being engaged.  

When someone fills out a survey in the Brisbane CBD on their commute to work, they probably don’t appreciate that they’ve just entered a complex ecosystem of targeted engagement, strategic messaging and collateral development.  

There are other scenarios in which you’re more likely to witness a spectrum of emotions – from raw anger to complete distress. When community members are being engaged on matters that intimately affect them or have experienced recent trauma or stress, engagement can become hostile and even dangerous. 

The COVID-19 effect 

The problem is – since the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, workers globally have grown accustomed to working solely from home. Applications like Zoom and MS Teams are now used daily, and people work in the comfort of their own homes more frequently than ever before.  

Community engagement workers are no exception, and now they are faced with the added challenge of returning to the field while stepping away from the safety of the home office.

During the COVID-19 crisis, entry-level engagement practitioners weren’t able to learn how to engage in the field. As a result, whole cohorts of community workers and public servants have only ever used online methods to interact with their communities. Not to mention that some of the most experienced practitioners have lost over 2-years of opportunity to hone their skills! 

Do you feel safe and confident engaging in the field? 

Whether you’re door knocking, conducting site visits or inspections, hosting briefings, surveying, or meeting with property owners – it’s hard to know what to expect in the field. 

Luckily, our expert trainers can help if you need training (or even a refresher) to feel confident and prepared while conducting field engagement.

In our exclusive 1-day course ‘Engaging in the Field’, we’ll support you to build the skills required to:

  • Have difficult conversations on your own with community members
  • Deliver bad news 
  • Respond to public criticism, and disrespectful, inappropriate or malicious comments 
  • Be aware of your surroundings, including the people you’re surrounded by. 

Our program explores the many techniques essential to keeping yourself and your team safe in the field, including how tackle complex challenges and de-escalate situations to ensure your safety. 

Topics include:

  • Tactics for situation awareness 
  • Risk management and exit strategies 
  • Awareness of behaviours and body language – including facial expressions, word choices and signs of anger (i.e. tense muscles, voice raising and eyebrow furrowing) 
  • Engagement essentials for maintaining your safety – including detailed session planning and how to best coordinate meetings in neutral spaces
  • Trauma-informed approaches and care for community members needs 
  • Health and safety in the field – with a focus on work in remote locations. 

If you want to bringing yourself up to speed in the post-COVID-19 era of community engagement, our course is a must-do!

Register now to secure your spot in our course on April 18 in the Brisbane CBD.

We can’t wait to work with you!

Written by Jessie Forbes
Jessie is a social analyst and professional communicator, passionate about leveraging social research to bolster resilient communities and workplaces. Jessie upholds key skills in report-writing, stakeholder management and community liaison. She has a concentrated interest in the not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors, and a distinct passion for diversity and inclusion. Dedicated and driven, Jessie displays a strength for harnessing social research and storytelling to produce thought provoking, for purpose work, and works to support the day-to-day operations of Articulous as a Support Officer.