Conference Abstracts & Papers

About the Conference
In August 2005 the Government of the State of Queensland, Australia with the support of the United Nations, hosted the first International Conference on Engaging Communities.

Around the world, greater engagement of citizens, clients, consumers and communities is becoming a feature of many governments and both public and private organisations. People are expecting to be able to be involved and to have a say in the business of government and in the decisions of organisations that affect their interests. Many are concerned about low levels of knowledge and the poor relations with communities that reduce the trust in public and private institutions. This in turn, impedes effective decision-making and the achievement of social and economic development and environmental sustainability outcomes. Accordingly, some governments and organisations are responding with a renewed commitment to effective engagement and some are using innovative methods of doing so to deliver better results for customers, citizens and communities.

In many different contexts and at local, state, regional, national and international levels, there are public, private, tertiary and community organisations engaging in ways that are making a difference and that are worth hearing about and learning from.

This Conference provided delegates the opportunity to hear and share examples of contemporary practice, theories and philosophies from around the world. The program was designed to open dialogue and encourage the development and maintenance of productive relationships between governments/organisations and citizens/clients and other stakeholders. These topics span a broad spectrum, from the development and implementation of public policy and programs, the operation of markets and the activities of corporations, and the achievement of social equity and sustainable resource management.

The objectives of the Conference were to:

  • promote understanding of the concept of engagement and participative practices and its role in good governance
  • explore ‘what works’, showcase innovation and promote good practice
  • share practice knowledge across the globe, at local, regional and state levels; and promote learnings across disciplines and sectors
  • discuss and develop conceptual and theoretical frameworks and directions for the future and the evidence base which underpins this practice
  • build understanding and evidence of leadership, capacity and capability issues for citizens/community and government/institutions
  • create ongoing national and international networks and collaboration creating communities of interest around the issue.

The Conference was attended by senior members of governments, leading researchers, senior executives from key international agencies (e.g. the United Nations agencies, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, OECD, Asian Development Bank), consultants, practitioners and representatives of the private sector, non-government organisations and community organisations.

One of the key outcomes of the conference was the development of the Brisbane Declaration on Community Engagement which was prepared following deliberative discussion and feedback prior to and during the conference. The final Brisbane Declaration is available on the Queensland Government’s Get involved website.

Conference papers and audio recordings of keynote major panel sessions are also available.