An effective community engagement process needs to be guided by sound and equitable community engagement principles. These are fundamental to any effective consultative, participatory or consensus process.
Use these principles to establish or assess any community engagement process:
Shared commitment to the process
Participants recognise that the agreed process offers the best opportunity to address the common identified issues.
Participants effectively represent the interests of their constituents and have the support of the wider community. Participants are obliged to identify any conflict of interest,real or perceived.
Clarity of roles and responsibilities
Participation in the process is voluntary, with the roles and responsibility of all participants clearly defined.
Openness, procedural fairness and equity
All participants have equal opportunity to contribute to the process and its design. The degree of influence participants have on the outcome is clearly stated. Rationales for all decisions are comprehensively explained.
Timeliness of decision-making and information delivery
To maximise full and effective participation, decisions are made and information delivered in a timely manner. All participants agree to clear and reasonable timeframes.
Access to information, expertise and personnel
All participants have equal access to available information and resources to ensure their effective and informed participation throughout the process.
Easily-comprehended information and flexible processes
Technical information is communicated in a manner that allows informed participation. Flexibility is a feature of the process design, so that change can be adequately handled.
The process is designed to ensure participants are able to be involved throughout. This means that emerging issues or new participants will not be disadvantaged.
Commitment to consensus
Participants are committed to reaching agreement, despite differences in values, interests and knowledge.
The process includes a mechanism through which frequent and open feedback on emerging issues, outcomes of consultations, and any recommendations arising from the process are brought to the attention of relevant stakeholders.