Australia’s water leader brings its own research insights to the #NextGenerationEngagement project

One of Australia’s leading water entities, Melbourne Water, will bring its experience in researching best practice engagement to the University of Melbourne’s Next Generation Engagement Project.

Greg Bain, Manager Community Engagement, said Melbourne Water has been trialling and selectively identifying the most effective stakeholder engagement practices used within their projects.

“Melbourne Water prides itself on maintaining the relationship with its stakeholders, from the establishment of the relationship and throughout the project lifecycle. We see it as critical,” Mr Bain said.

‘We’re making a concerted effort to transform the way our business engages with our customers, stakeholders and the community to meet current and future challenges. To do that we’re identifying world’s best practice engagement tools and processes and embedding them as business as usual.”

Mr Bain said Melbourne Water sees the Next Generation Engagement Project as an opportunity to share lessons learned with other infrastructure proponents and to collectively raise the bar as a result.

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

“Almost $20 billion in largely taxpayer-funded projects have been delayed, cancelled or completed and then mothballed over the past decade in Australia. This research aims to identify the key engagement challenges gaps in delivering new infrastructure and to then address them through applied research with industry.”

“Partners such as the Melbourne Water will play a vital role in helping us to understand the problem and will bring an important interdisciplinary perspective to this research. The experience of their members at the coal face of major global projects will allow us to create a clear picture of the core social challenges facing Australia’s infrastructure delivery,” Dr Bice said.

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 desks 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.”

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Melbourne Water guarantees the supply of affordable, high-quality water, reliable sewerage, healthy waterways and outstanding natural community spaces, helping make Melbourne a great place to live.