While we are slowly returning to work, COVID-19 is still a reality that we need to consider when engaging with South Australian citizens.

You may wonder how to reach people who are either not online or those who are generally thought to be 'hard to reach'.

We attended a webinar hosted by MosaicLAB which broke down the myths and misconceptions of those 'hard to reach', and gave us some tips on how to find and connect with them.

Myths and Misconceptions

First, it's important to note that there are two different groups:

The ‘hard to reach’

This term is so often used in engagement, but it's not always accurate. Once identified, this group is usually eager to participate but require ‘us to do the work’ and find out how to connect with them. We should focus on including a diverse range of voices, which includes those unlikely to participate in mainstream activities, especially when online.

The ‘beyond our reach’

This is the group who can’t or won’t engage online. We often may assume that barriers such as geography, age or socioeconomic status make people 'beyond our reach' when in reality, we just need to change our approach.

How do we connect with them?

To help connect with the 'hard to reach' or those 'beyond our reach', below are some simple tips.

Supporting people to participate online

To help people get involved, you need to ensure you are using tools they are familiar with, offer multiple options to engage with, provide IT support, and make sure resources are available for them. If possible or within your budget, bring the tools to them (or vice versa)! This will demonstrate that your approach is genuine and that you value their feedback.

Alternatives for those who can't or won't go online

Remember that online is not the only option. Telephone interviews, small group teleconferences, mail and text communication are all options for purposeful engagement.

Core principles that help you reach and include diverse voices

The core principles of engagement still work! Regardless of tools, good engagement requires careful consideration of who you’re engaging with and targeting people with fit-for-purpose, appropriate engagement methods. Make sure you reach a representative audience using random selection. This will help to ensure that different voices are included in the conversation.

Good luck with your engagements and remember we are here to help!