The third UOW Master Class for 2021-22 was held on Saturday 23 July, presented by Associate Professor Belinda Gibbons on Community and Engagement. We took advantage of UOW’s new hybrid teaching facilities, enabling participants to join the session on-campus or online. To frame our group discussions, we reviewed the World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Global Risks by Severity for the next 10 years. It’s an alarming list, with climate action failure the number one issue, followed by extreme weather, biodiversity loss and social cohesion erosion. In the 0-2 year timeframe, these issues will prevail and are joined by infectious diseases and mental health deterioration, two issues of current significance for our region.
In groups, we identified what each of our organisations are doing or plan to do in the community and engagement space to combat these issues, then shared ideas and practices with the whole group. Participants said it was a great opportunity to learn how other organisations are implementing community engagement strategies and noted the importance of ongoing engagement in place of project-based or one-off actions. The importance of individuals, company shareholders and other stakeholders driving agendas in addition to the business was also highlighted.
There is a wide range of approaches to community engagement adopted by the LIP members’ organisations. From the regular provision of community grants, to targeted mental health initiatives, to creating systems and processes to listen at the front line to both staff and community members. As a group we acknowledged that what is not said, or data that is not captured via the loudest voices is still important to explore, examine and measure.
The LIP were encouraged to audit their existing community engagement ‘toolbox’ and add to it by exploring the following resources that can support their organisations’ decision making and measure the impact of initiatives:
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
This thought provoking session inspired hope and motivated LIP members to turn their new learnings into action at work and in their communities.
Blog posts written by the Leadership Illawarra Program Cohort.