About the presentation
James A. Smith and the Whole of Community Engagement team
Presentation to the International Association of Public Participation in Darwin in May 2016.
Community engagement is often cited as a critical component of working with Indigenous communities in both Australia and other countries. Ideally, this involves engaging in ‘bottom-up’ approaches that scope, identify, and subsequently respond to, community needs and aspirations.
Community engagement is usually participatory and developmental in nature. It is often used as a means to shape policy and program development, scope research approaches, and support enhanced service delivery in a range of settings. However, the physical, social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which community engagement occurs can be different. As such, there is no definitive approach to what community engagement both ‘looks’ and ‘feels’ like within different Indigenous community contexts.
In this presentation, I draw on the various community engagement processes and strategies that have been used in six remote Indigenous communities during the establishment phase of the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program – Whole of Community Engagement (HEPPP-WCE) initiative. This is a multi-site participatory action research project which aims to build the aspiration, expectation and capacity of remote Indigenous communities to participate in higher education. Information presented is based on a team effort involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff working side-by-side, and reflects an ongoing community engagement processes with a sustainable partnership development focus.