Going the extra 933 miles
We recently travelled 1,500 kms north to conduct a community consultation project in one of the most remote areas of WA. It was a fantastic opportunity to experience amazing landscapes and meet the remarkable people living in one of the most challenging climates on Earth.
With a very small population spread over a vast area, conducting community consultation presented a unique set of challenges. Meeting the consultation objectives meant drawing on all our experience and designing new engagement strategies.
What we learned
- In regional and remote locations quality, face-to-face interactions are the foundation stones of success. Personal connections matter and having made them, people were keen to help any way they could. They referred us to friends and family and connected us to the Facebook-based community grapevine and so helped us establish a really solid online platform to continue the conversation. The online discussion was still going strong a month after the visit and we’d tapped into almost 5% of the region’s population!
- The value of providing lots of different kinds of opportunities to contribute: from “listening posts” to community forums and in-depth interviews.
- The importance of meticulous planning and communication, working in partnership with our clients who know their community well and taking their advice. What works in an urban environment won’t necessarily work in remote locations.
- The need for consultation to be undertaken by senior qualitative researchers who can assimilate the massive amount of information as they go through because you only get one chance at it.
- Success depends on a degree of flexibility. Be willing to abandon plans that aren’t working and make the most of any opportunity.
- Short concise reporting which captures the essence of discussions is critical.
Plus…the ability to laugh at yourself a little and a willingness to overlook the frogs living in toilets will take you a long way!