After three years of COVID cancellations, Delib Asia-Pacific was happy to gather together with engagement practitioners and experts from all over Australasia for the IAP2 2022 conference in October. 

This year’s theme – A Brave New World – was broad and collaborative. Participants were invited to consider how we can use our post-pandemic positions to set the tone for new consultation patterns. As IAP2A chairman Tony Clark put it, engagement isn’t just strategic communication – we need to meet our communities where they are and focus on building lasting relationships that will be able to keep up with changing business needs.

Panellists throughout the event shared some common thoughts on putting this into practice, especially by focusing on authenticity. This can mean looking at the composition and character of your community and deciding to think beyond how things are usually done. It’s time to stop managing opinions and start seeking them out.

For example, having a firm strategy for First Nations’ engagement is important, but consider how often a particular subgroup of your participants has been asked the same questions. After all, Joanne Bloggs doesn’t care what department is asking this time, or how noble and unique your project is – she only sees Council (“…again!”). Has the predecessor to your role already found out what you need to know? Has another organisation recently asked similar things? Often, a quick Google will reveal dozens of existing community groups able to act as conduits to hardly-reached groups. These groups will know who has asked what, and know the most respectful and effective approaches to filling in knowledge gaps.

Putting it all together with Citizen Space

Teething issues are inevitable when shifting from engagement out of legal necessity to engagement out of love. There will be an adjustment period where you need to teach your audience how to re-engage in your new way. At Delib, we’ve learned that one of the easiest ways to show you care is by closing the feedback loop. In our latest Citizen Space release, we’re pleased as punch to have more features than ever that reduce the space between users and admins. 

With publishable replies, Citizen Space admins can now respond directly and publicly to queries published on your digital engagement hub. We hope that this will make consultation feel more conversational and get rid of any lingering fears that users may have about shouting their concerns into a void – or worse, at a chatbot.

We know that changing your consultation style is a big deal, and that just the same as participants, there may be a learning curve for project facilitators and higher-ups. Authentic engagement is best achieved with humble curiosity. The only person who’s an expert in their unique lived experience is that person. Letting them speak should be the easiest thing in the world.

Citizen Space is a citizen engagement platform trusted by government around the world. Government organisations and public bodies use Citizen Space to connect with more citizens, increase engagement and improve processes.

To learn more about what Citizen Space can do for your organisation, book a free demo and we’ll walk you through it.