In the past we’ve been very much about getting funding (particularly from the Commonwealth or State Governments) to undertake project delivery to do onground work.
Over time, we have evolved to a stage where we are providing coordinated program delivery.
We are great at getting people together to talk. This can be just to acknowledge the issues and share experiences on a particular topic, with your neighbours or government departments that are working in your area. It can be really useful to find out what is being done around your region, as you might be able to share resources or labour and help each other to get a job done.
When there is a particular topic of concern, like wild dogs or erosion or grazing pressure, we can organise a space to talk and grow. We can get people together to talk about issues and even maybe how to resolve them. We can get the right people together, facilitate the discussion, and help define the next steps forward.
We need to think on a bigger, landscape-scale and across multiple-disciplines rather than deal with specific issues one by one. We want to help people and organisations to look after their own patch, by improving their management and grow into something bigger. To do this, we work towards coordinated program delivery.
So we’ve worked out a solution to the way we work.
We have moved away from a pure project NRM delivery model (community engagement), to more of a community development model. In community engagement work, decisions are made outside and then the project or a technical solution is delivered. In community development work, we work from the community out.
This is a whole different space in terms of how it works. It requires a lot more time but the results are a lot more sustainable because they’re owned by the people on the ground. The problem or issue is first named by the community, then defined in a way that advances the shared interest of the community and the agency. We’ll go in and find out what is the passion or what is the interest is. It’s not necessarily doing exactly what they want to do, it’s moving them into a negotiated space to find what is that the best way to do it, and having a discussion around that.
The work is longer term duration because it does require that people be engaged with it, it’s not just delivering the project. And, most importantly, the desired outcome is an increase of capacity of community members. Because, our job is to help people to look after their own patch. We essentially want to get ourselves out of a job.