Max Hardy Consultancy

Welcome to my e-newsletter

How is it August already?  Well, we’ve settled in at Fitzroy – with a balcony garden to prove it! It is an amazing place to live and we feel so lucky to be here. 

Soon we are off for a break to Greece; so I might be hard to reach in September (but will check emails occasionally). Apart from spending time on several islands I will also be meeting with emerging community engagement practitioners in Athens, brought together by IAP2 member Madeleine Theochari.


What I've been up to!

 Deliberative community engagement processes have continued to keep me fairly busy, and also encouraged. Melbourne Water have undertaken their first, with a mix of randomly recruited residents, and some self-selected passionate stakeholders, working together to make firm recommendations about improving environmental health and amenity of a section of Dandenong Creek. As usual participants rose to the occasion and provided incredibly thoughtful advice. They also had some interesting things to say about the process, such as:

I completely changed my mind about (the issue) and hope that the creek system receives a LOT of attention and community support in next 5 years. Thank you so much Melbourne Water!

I started out skeptical about what Melbourne Water’s purpose was in the consultation process, but ended up really impressed with how seriously they took our opinions and how those would be taken to the next phase of consultation. Well done everyone!

The whole process was very informative both in terms of the sewerage issue and the alternative opportunities to enhance the creek.

It was also a thrill to work again with the highly talented Prue Blake; and we both loved working with the very professional and capable Melbourne Water team.

Brimbank Young Citizens' Jury

It was a thrill to work with a young citizens’ jury and Brimbank City Council earlier in the year. They formed recommendations as to the best way for council to engage and partner with young people in their city. 

Check out this fantastic video by youth ambassador Julienne Nguyen to give you a feel of the process.

Facilitating QCOSS Annual Conference, Movement for Change

Facilitating Day 2, representing Collaboration for Impact, of the QCOSS State Conference was also a great honour. Such great energy in the room and some very tangible, yet inspiring, outcomes achieved.

Other recent projects include working with Tract on two planning projects near Ballarat, facilitating a consumer engagement in health forum for Southern Melbourne Primary Care Partnership), facilitating a mayoral roundtable at Dandenong, and working with Tract on the Patterson River (Lower and Upper precincts) Concept Plan.

Designing and developing new courses

I co-delivered the first ever course, Questions Change Everything, with Susan Carter earlier in the year. Planning to run another one next year, if not before!

I have been offering and delivering a new 2 day course called ‘When the going gets tough (in community engagement)’ to a number of organisations and it’s been very well received. Barbara Dart of Ipswich City Council said:

“Max recently facilitated a two-day course for us at Council about tackling the internal and external challenges of community engagement. Max is an exceptional facilitator and his ability to draw on experiences across such a broad and diverse background in CE is invaluable to those before him. I would highly recommend Max to anyone who is wanting to either dip their toe or dive right into the CE world – you won’t be disappointed.”

I consider that very high praise from someone so experienced as Barbara.

I’m also co-designing new courses with Megan Girdler, Founder of Future.Boutique, digital community engagement specialist and futurist.

1. Fresh approaches to community engagement (1 day) – a course which explores emerging digital applications as well as innovations in deliberative engagement. This is an in-house course offering so get in touch to arrange a suitable time.

2. Evaluation Essentials (1 day public course) – a course Megan and I are offering alongside of Allison Hendricks of Darzin. It will look at frameworks and new digital tools for engagement (including Articulous’ Project E, Jen Riley’s engagement/monitoring dashboard and Altometer’s data analysis). The last session will involve completing a community engagement planning template with an evaluation plan. More information and tickets for this public course.

3. Deliberation and Digital Engagement Course (6 week part time course) – this course will include two face to face sessions as well as digital engagement sessions in between. It will involve taking part in a mock deliberative process, and time to reflect on learnings. More information and tickets for this public course.

Megan Girdler – Future.Boutique


Other news

I recently ran a webinar with Liz Weaver, Tamarack Institute on codesign in collaboration. You can check it out here.

Speaking of Liz Weaver and Tamarack, we are planning a series of one day courses in codesign across Canada in May next year. Coast to coast over two weeks. Should be lots of fun with plenty of shared learning.

I managed to win myself an I-watch. An IAP2 wordsmith competition for defining the role of a Community Engagement Practitioner. You can also read a posting about my definition, and some other info about my journey, in Tales from the Trenches.


Had a great time at the inaugural NCEIF (National Community Engagement for Infrastructure Forum) Conference in July. Caught up with familiar colleagues and made lots of new ones.

With Allison Hendricks during the welcome to Conference Tram Dinner

I was pleased to present a session on what we can learn from Slime Mould. Why Slime Mould? Well, check this video and draw your own conclusions. Also was pleased to turn participants at the final session into a drum set, with some air guitarists. Such fun!


Coming up

In October I will be representing IAP2A as an Ambassador at the Every Child Succeeds Conference, delivering a keynote and facilitating other sessions. An emphasis on a collective impact approach to achieving systems change. So important and lots to learn here.

Continuing to work as an Associate with the wonderful people at Collaboration for Impact.

I’m facilitating the first session at the NENA (New Economy Network Australia) Conference in October. If you’re in Melbourne and interested in a creative and more just future for all of us then check it out!

Heading to the IAP2 Conference at the Gold Coast, where Anna Kelderman, Shape Urban, and I, will join the City of Vincent as nominees for an Award with the Imagine Vincent city visioning process.

Whilst on that subject, check out the recent conversational blog with the fabulous Anna Kelderman!

More work coming up in the health sector, working with the wonderful Micaela Drieberg – more about this next time!

I’m moving to a new co-working space after 4 years at Place Lab. Now onto the Commons in Collingwood, only a 10 minute or so walk from home.


Expect some photos from Greece next time around. Should be a memorable time!

That’s it for now. If you want to find out more on any of my services, just email or phone me on 0418 217 261.

Ciao for now,



Max Hardy
0418 217 261