Engaging with the community is an important way to build legacy in our NRM projects. Building community stewardship is therefore a critical part of what we do. Through engagement we build skills, knowledge and capacity in NRM so that it can be undertaken long after we are gone. Building awareness and appreciation of our natural and agricultural assets allows them to be truly valued, and in turn, protected into the future.
There are many ways to approach community engagement; however, the goal always remains the same – appropriate participation.
Community can be defined in a number ways, depending on the context requiring the definition. It may be defined by a place, a similar interest or identity. In the South West NRM Region, community engagement is focussed on how people engage and interact with their local environment, with NRM programs and with each other.
Engagement includes communication, consultation, education, participation and building partnerships. It focuses on involving communities in decision making, advocacy and direct action. It relates to the interaction between people, which builds relationships and increases their capacity to understand problems, make good decisions and motivate action.
If community engagement is undertaken well it builds capacity in the community. This can be in the form of forward planning, a commitment to action, a greater understanding of the problems and the ability to set goals, make decisions and take action.
The South West Catchments Council (SWCC) aims to continuously improve community engagement across the Region, by collectively redesigning the structures that can support genuine and effective community engagement, collaboration and participation in the delivery of NRM and Landcare in the South West.