Engagement leader joins the Next Generation Engagement Project

Australia’s largest professional engagement body, IAP2 Australasia, will help shine a light on best practice engagement with the University of Melbourne’s groundbreaking Next Generation Engagement Project.

IAP2 Australasia Chair, Leanne Hartill, said: “After almost 20 years representing engagement practitioners and supporting the professionalization of our discipline through the delivery of professional development training IAP2 Australasia is delighted to be part of this exciting initiative.”

“IAP2 Australasia has worked on several important innovations over the past two years including the Valuing Better Engagement Framework and the global IAP2 Quality Assurance Standard.”

“We look forward to drawing on the lessons learned through our work, particularly our recent research projects such as Valuing Better Engagement, to take the understanding of the value of good engagement to the next level.”

Social license expert, Dr Sara Bice, is leading the project on behalf of the Melbourne School of Government.

“There appears to be an significant challenge emerging in terms of the relationship between communities and infrastructure projects. Almost $20 billion in largely taxpayer-funded projects have been delayed, cancelled or completed and then mothballed over the past decade in Australia and it appears that community conflict may have contributed to this.”

“The Next Generation Engagement Project aims to identify the key engagement challenges and gaps in delivering new infrastructure and to then address them through applied research with industry, government and ultimately community.”

“Partners such as the IAP2 Australasia will play a vital role in helping us to understand the problem. The experiences of their members at the coalface of major projects will allow us to create a clear picture of the core social challenges facing Australia’s infrastructure delivery. What’s more, their experience in engagement research will give us some invaluable building blocks for our work” Dr Bice said.

Project Director, Kirsty O’Connell joins Dr Bice in delivering the project.

“Investors, governments and infrastructure professionals acknowledge that social risk and community opposition are making projects more difficult but as practitioners we don’t yet have the hard data to allow us to calculate the costs,” Ms O’Connell said.

“A solid evidence base will underpin the business case for better practices and ultimately deliver better outcomes for communities and proponents. The Next Generation Engagement Project is an important step in developing that sound evidence base.”

Over the coming six months the University of Melbourne and its partners will conduct the largest national consultation on engagement to date. This will include:

  • a national survey on engagement and social license challenges for Australia’s infrastructure sector
  • workshops in each capital city with leading Australian practitioners and international infrastructure experts
  • a gap analysis that details the most critical knowledge gaps for the community engagement profession
  • testing the gap analysis with infrastructure professionals across Australia.

Dr Bice said, “Through this work we aim to identify the biggest roadblocks around engagement, social risk management and social license for infrastructure delivery together with an analysis of emerging trends and challenges.”

“Our aim is to get this information onto the desk of key decision makers in Australia’s infrastructure sector to really inform the discussion. Our intention is that this work will seed longer-term research partnerships that will help industry to make meaningful progress on these issues.”