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