Why effective community engagement principles matter

Successful community engagement relies not primarily on what is done, but how it is done.

Conducting and managing community engagement activities should be ongoing and critical responsibilities of every organisation undertaking a project within a community. If a community has an expressive interest in your project, they can either be supportive or highly critical of the activities based on their level of knowledge.

The engagement does require that all stakeholders are communicated with, but how effective is simply communicating? Without a doubt there needs to be open communication, in multiple ways including two-way feedback for communities and their members to even begin to acknowledge and accept any level of further engagement.

It is at this point that principles underlying effective community engagement come together to create trust and a connection between a company (its project and intentions) and a community. With this in mind, effective engagement has to be underpinned by these principles:

  • a genuine understanding and awareness of the community you are operating in and engaging on the issues that are important to the community to address any concerns or impacts
  • a consistent building of trust behaviours across the organisation and recognising that respect is reciprocal
  • integrity and transparency in the objectives, expectations and processes to earn the community’s respect.