From the CEO July – building cultural competence and authentic engagement

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.”
Mahatma Gandhi.

You may notice a common thread running through many of our articles in this edition of Engagement Matters.

IAP2 Australasia, as part of an international organisation, and also a partner with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) continues to collaborate with other regions around the world to provide tools to promote public participation.

Yet, we are also looking inwards and reflecting on how we can continue to build cultural competence and authentic engagement with Indigenous and diverse cultures here in Australia and New Zealand. This is important to many members of IAP2, and is reflected in the number of event presentations and articles we are presenting on the topic.

In June, it was a privilege to be part of the discussion at the IAP2 Core Value Event in Western Australia where the group explored the power of Aboriginal-led engagement. As Jordin Payne, Cannings Purple’s Senior Consultant in Corporate Affairs and a proud Nimanburr woman, writes “Participants were introduced to an incredible case study demonstrating how genuine Aboriginal-led consultation has been a powerful instigator for truth-telling, healing and reconciliation.” Throughout the event, I was reminded of how the IAP2 Core Values are aligned to the principles of Aboriginal-led engagement outlined by Jordin and the panel.

We also have another opportunity to learn more about Indigenous culture with a NAIDOC Week article from Elle Davidson, Indigenous Engagement Leader and Chloe Sullivan, Social Sustainability and Engagement Consultant, both from GHD. Elle and Chloe take us through this year’s NAIDOC Week theme of ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth’.

Engaging with diversity was also a strong focus of the recently New Zealand Symposium in Christchurch. As well as a Masterclass on the topic, working group members hosted a workshop showing great examples of diversity enhancing engagement and co-host Stephanie MacDonald shares more in her thought-provoking opinion piece.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the New Zealand Symposium working group, our Christchurch hosts, presenters, facilitators (including MC extraordinaire, Chris Mene!) and everyone who attended. It was a powerful event, and members will soon be able to access some of the recordings from key sessions through the website.

Speaking of major events, registrations have now opened for the 2019 IAP2 Australasia Conference in Sydney (29-31 October). Our abstract reviewers and program working group are putting together a strong program, and we will be able to share more on this next month.

Did you submit an entry into the Core Values Awards this year? Our jury panel have been busy judging a record number of entries, and I heard a comment that they are “blown away” by the quality this year. Finalists will be announced in August, and winners at the IAP2 Australasia Core Values Awards Dinner in Sydney on 31 October. I’m excited!

And here I’ll finish with two reminders.

1. Have you signed up to support our proposal to call for an International Year of Engagement? This is a real opportunity to show your community that you support community engagement and public participation. It takes just a minute – sign up here at to receive tools to show that you support community engagement. You can sign up as an organisation, or an individual.

2. IAP2 Australasia turns 21! If you unearth any photos or memories of IAP2A past events, courses or happenings, please do send them on. We would love to show case them. Email