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Community Engagement

Effective community engagement seeks to better engage the community to achieve long-term and sustainable outcomes, processes, relationships, discourse, and decision-making in a community-context sensitive environment.

Engagement is not generally driven by a ‘model’ so much as by a framework of guiding principles, strategies, and approaches. This framework is based on principles that respect the right of all community members to be informed, consulted, involved and empowered and employs and range of tools and strategies to ensure success It also places a premium on fostering and enhancing trust as a critical element in long-term, sustainable engagement and effective governance.

While there are almost as many definitions out there as there are people trying to define it, in its simplest terms community engagement seeks to better engage the community to achieve long-term and sustainable outcomes, processes, relationships, discourse, decision-making, or implementation.

Citizens are ‘engaged’ when they play a meaningful role in the deliberations, discussions, decision-making and/or implementation of projects or programs affecting them. Accordingly, organizational and government leaders need to broaden the way they see their responsibilities to include roles as facilitator, supporter, collaborator, and empower of citizens and stakeholders.

There are five basic guiding principles of successful community engagement.

While the literature and many organizations have identified or suggested a number of core values under girding community engagement efforts those identified by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) are perhaps the most comprehensive.

The Australian Department of Sustainability and Environment effectively identifies the six C’s of successful community engagement.

A number of organizations and scholars have identified core principles of community engagement. The Co-Intelligence Institute has developed the following seven core principles that effectively reflect the common beliefs and understandings of those working in the field of community engagement – conflict, conflict resolution, and collaboration. In practice, these principles and others, are applied in many different ways.

Further information on public engagement.