University of Melbourne launches Next Generation Engagement Project

The Melbourne School of Government is working with leading industry groups and individuals in Australia’s infrastructure sector to deliver its groundbreaking Next Generation Engagement Project.

At a time of unprecedented investment in Australian infrastructure, the University of Melbourne will conduct the largest consultation on the practice of community engagement to date – seeking to identify the key challenges, knowledge and skills gaps in this important discipline.

Social license expert, Dr Sara Bice,  is leading the project on behalf of the Melbourne School of Government (MSoG). She said, “We believe that tension between projects and communities is contributing to considerable costs and delays. Experience tells us that early and constructive community engagement can play a critical role here. Our aim in The Next Generation Engagement project is to get a solid evidence base; to really articulate the potential that community engagement holds for successful infrastructure development.”

Partnership opportunities are available to select organisations until March 2017 and the University of pleased to acknowledge the early support of the following partners across the infrastructure sector, including:

“The experiences of our partners at the coal face of major projects will allow us to create a clear picture of the core social challenges facing Australia’s infrastructure delivery,” Dr Bice said.

Over the coming months the Melbourne School of Government and its partners will conduct the largest national consultation on engagement to date. This will include:

  • a national survey on engagement and social license challenges for Australia’s infrastructure sector
  • workshops in capital cities with leading Australian practitioners and international infrastructure experts
  • a research report that details the most critical knowledge gaps for the community engagement profession (gap analysis)
  • testing the gap analysis with infrastructure professionals across Australia.

“On the completion of this work we aim to identify the biggest roadblocks around engagement, social risk management and social license for infrastructure delivery together with an analysis of emerging trends and opportunities,” Dr Bice said.

“Our aim is to get this research onto the desk of key decision makers in Australia’s infrastructure sector to really inform the discussion. Our intention is that this work will seed longer-term research partnerships that will help industry to make meaningful progress on these issues.”