What I’ve learnt in the last two years - a consultant’s perspective

Demi Barnett

Demi Barnett

Since March 2020, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Australians have been working from home more than ever.

With students learning online, patients accessing health care through telehealth, and online shopping being relied upon by Australians everywhere, there was a shift from physical to digital services at a rate impossible to fathom.

This is only scratching the surface of what has changed. Who would have thought this would be the once in a hundred-year event? Hopefully, we’ve learnt to stop fighting over essentials such as toilet paper at the supermarket!

I was already used to working from home, but I wasn’t used to being told “no face-to-face” consultation (which various local and state governments implemented during the pandemic). This meant meetings with community members or stakeholders (such as representatives of the community or industry groups) had to take place through digital channels.

Through online consultation, I learnt that it was vital for community engagement to be genuine. Despite the new normal we were getting used to, communities still (and rightfully so) expected to have a say in the planning and delivery of projects that affected them.

For the first time, the global toolkit matched the full range of digital tools applied on the IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum – from informing the public to involving them in the project, and finally, truly empowering people as collaborators.

Selecting the right tools for digital engagement is critical for all projects. Depending on your consultation requirements, there are a variety of tools which include (but are not limited to) forums, interactive mapping and controlled surveying apps such as Survey Monkey. It is also important to allow appropriate mechanisms for feedback.

The landscape has changed. I have no doubt that the lessons we’ve collectively learnt over the last two years will have a long-lasting impact on future generations to come.

We’re experts in digital consultation and engagement. Get in touch through our website or on 1300 319 166.

What I’ve learnt in the last two years - a consultant’s perspective
Demi Barnett
December 15, 2021
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