Navigating community engagement within remote Indigenous further education contexts in the Northern Territory: Lessons from the Whole of Community Engagement initiative

About the presentation


Geoffrey Shannon, David Scholz, James A. Smith, Steven Larkin, Millie Olcay,  Dean Yibarbuk and the Whole of Community Engagement team

Presentation at the Society for the Provision of Rural Education in Australia (SPERA) National Conference in Townsville in September 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. Partnerships and resultant opportunities and actions are a central part of what good community engagement has come to represent. 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, we draw on the various community engagement processes and strategies that have been used in six remote Indigenous communities during the implementation phase of the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program – Whole of Community Engagement (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 further education. Information presented is based on a team effort involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff working side-by-side, and reflects ongoing community engagement processes with a sustainable partnership development focus.


The team were presented with a 2016 Australian Rural Education Award by SPERA during this conference.

29 November 2017

Team Member Reflection: Terry Moore

Team Member Reflection: Terry Moore

​I joined the team in April 2016, just in time for the team meeting at Tennant Creek, where it was realised that the team needed someone to analyse the data that was being generated across the different communities.

Charles Darwin UniversityAustralian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & EducationBatchelor InstituteNAILSMANTG

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