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Early engagement results in better outcomes for both the community and government.

Starting together to define the purpose and objectives of your strategy can:

- save time and resources down the track

- reduce the risk of encountering future problems, including community opposition

- build a sense of ownership and stewardship in the community

- help bring people together for a positive purpose

A co-design process can create collective action by stakeholders and communities in implementing the solution.

To start together you should be:

Strong, authentic relationships:

  • lead to trust, understanding and openness
  • form the foundation upon which to build successful community engagement.

Relationships may be with internal (government) or external participants.

Government relationships are as important as relationships with external stakeholders. Identify and build relationships with internal stakeholders during the planning phase of your engagement process (Principle 2). They could help shape your strategy and provide valuable information to assist with your initiative.

Put in the groundwork for good relationships before doing anything else, and start early as this takes time.

Starting together means:

  • working with communities and stakeholders to identify challenges and opportunities, rather than starting from a predetermined outcome or decision.
  • taking a ‘blank canvas’ approach, acknowledging the participants’ concerns and aspirations related to your engagement’s purpose

If you can establish collective objectives with clear actions, all parties can work collaboratively to a positive outcome.

Encourage participation by allowing stakeholders to co-design the engagement process (PDF, 893KB). Ask them how they should be engaged and what processes and mechanisms would work best for them.

How Principle 4 is applied differs considerably across the levels of engagement on the IAP2 spectrum.

Bring your engagement, communications and policy staff together. Their collaboration will ensure that activities are well communicated and that those responsible for implementing the final outcomes understand the community’s priorities. This will ensure that starting together can be achieved to a satisfactory level, with greater opportunity for positive outcomes.

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