The Global Community Engagement Day #commengageday is just around the corner! Since 2018, on the 28th of January, government, organisations and citizens are reminded of how critical it is to engage the community for decision making.

Best practice community engagement:

  • puts people and their needs at the centre by bringing their voices into issues that matter to them
  • helps build and strengthen relationships
  • helps build trust and gain commitment from the community who feel empowered through the process
  • supports the creation and implementation of sustainable and shared decisions
  • when done genuinely, it always brings win-win outcomes for all involved.

Our Better Together Principles of Engagement provide a clear and flexible framework for government to use when engaging stakeholders and the community.

How was the Global Community Engagement Day created?

The first Global Community Engagement Day was held on January 28th, 2018. The pioneer of the idea was South Australia's very own Andrew Coulson, former board member of Engage 2 Act, a not-for-profit organisation committed to progressing the practice of community engagement across the globe. Andrew thought that if other things have special commemoration dates (e.g. Chocolate Day on the 7th of July and Doughnut Day on the 1st of June) community engagement deserved a special day too!

The whole team at Engage 2 Act was totally on board with the idea. But they needed to establish an official date for it. So, in December 2017 they used their social media channels to host a poll to find out who was the most inspiring community engagement leader/practitioner their followers have met. The top voted person’s birth date would be used as the date to commemorate Global Community Engagement Day.

Wendy Sarkissian was the top choice and her birthday is on the 28th of January, hence, this day was chosen as an international day to celebrate the beauty of community engagement and all that it entails.

You can read the full story of how this all started in Andrew’s blog.

How can you embrace Global Community Engagement Day?

  • Use your influencing skills and talk to your managers and leaders about the importance of engaging the community for better outcomes.
  • Learn other ways in which you can involve diverse communities, in particular those hard to reach.
  • Increase your network and learn best practice tips from other community engagement practitioners.
  • Spread awareness for this day using your social media channels with #commengageday.
  • Come up with your own challenge to inspire your colleagues or stakeholders to embrace community engagement.
  • Write and share an article on what your best community and stakeholder engagement experience has been and what did you learn about it.

What is the theme for this year?

The theme for this year’s Global Community Engagement Day is ‘Engaging children for their future’. In light of this, we are sharing a great example of how to engage children and young people and empower them to shape decisions on topics that directly affect them.

In early 2019, the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People, polled children in various public spaces, like the Art Gallery of SA, Rundle Mall, etc., to find out what issues affect them the most in the online world. Results highlighted they are most concerned about online trust.

The Commissioner explored this issue with a group of 200 young people, who agreed that they need to better understand when and what to block, ignore, report, and delete when they are presented with troubling or upsetting topics online.

The Commissioner then partnered with Digital Government and AustCyber to deliver the D3 Challenge for 2019. South Australian innovators were given the opportunity to create a digital solution to solve the problem presented by young people.

Children and young people were at the centre of the whole process. They set the challenge as well as the rules and parameters for the solution to work according to their needs.

The D3 challenge was successfully run in July and August 2019. Deming Factor was awarded $15,000 in grant funding to develop EndoBox – an online space for children aged 7-12 years to explore and experience free, open gameplay with their closest friends and family in a members-only online environment.

You can read the full case study at the Commissioner of Children and Young People website.

Now that you know the history and what you can do about it, embrace and celebrate Global Community Engagement Day!!