Engaging to make a difference. A conversation with Ben Neil.

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with a wonderful community engagement practitioner, Ben Neil. He has so many stories from his wealth of experience. Here is some of what we spoke about. Max: Ben, give us a really brief description of your role at Capire and professional background? Ben: I have been at…

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How safe is it to participate?

Something we don’t discuss much is the importance of the ‘do no harm’ principle when engaging the community (especially relevant now with the Covid-19 pandemic). Anthony Boxshall and I identified ‘people feeling unsafe’ as one of the key challenges to co-design. We rely on bringing together a diverse community of interest, but what do you…

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Debunking myths about ‘deliberation’

There is much being said and written about deliberation. This is not surprising, especially in Victoria, Australia, where the new Local Government Act stipulates this is the way to now engage communities. So, I thought I’d make a contribution as a practitioner who has promoted, designed and facilitated deliberative processes for over 20 years. In…

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Learning from Covid-19. How what we are learning now can transform how we engage into the future!

learning from covid-19

Engaging communities at a time of physical distancing presents some real challenges for local government.
Let’s face it, community engagement is never perfect. It is never perfectly representative; the processes are not perfectly supported by organisations, nor is the output perfectly considered. It is always a matter of making trade-offs with our processes, limited by budget, time-frames, and the capacity of communities to be involved. But we have come a long way in the last 20 years. Here are some things that I’ve noticed are much better.

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IAP2 Australasia Wordsmith Competition

I am very excited to be the winner of the recent IAP2 Australasia Wordsmith Competition. The Wordsmith competition asked members to come up with the best definition of an engagement practitioner using everyday language. My winning entry was: “An engagement practitioner helps individuals, groups, organisations and decision makers with different interests to talk, listen, learn,…

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