Engaging on the ground: Site-level community engagement practice in the Australian minerals industry

Beach, R., Parsons, D., Brereton, D. and Paulsen, N. (2005). Engaging on the ground: Site-level community engagement practice in the Australian minerals industry. In: Dave Gardiner and Katie Scott, Proceedings of International Conference on Engaging Communities. International Conference on Engaging Communities, Brisbane, QLD Queensland, (1-17). 14-17 August 2005.

Author Beach, R.
Parsons, D.
Brereton, D.
Paulsen, N.
Title of paper Engaging on the ground: Site-level community engagement practice in the Australian minerals industry
Conference name International Conference on Engaging Communities
Conference location Brisbane, QLD Queensland
Conference dates 14-17 August 2005
Proceedings title Proceedings of International Conference on Engaging Communities
Place of Publication Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Publisher Queensland Department of Main Roads
Publication Year 2005
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 1920719032
Editor Dave Gardiner
Katie Scott
Start page 1
End page 17
Total pages 17
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary This paper will present key findings from a comparative study of community engagement processes at Australian mining operations. The study, which is currently being undertaken by a team of University of Queensland researchers, is funded through the Australian Research Council and is being supported by four of Australia’s leading mining companies. The focus of the study is on how community engagement is being practised ‘on the ground’ in the industry. There are eight mining and minerals processing operations involved in the research. Preliminary findings from six of these sites are reported in this paper as they related to:
• the rationale for community engagement from the operational perspective
• the nature of communications, informing or more interactive exchanges
• public cynicism and/or non-engagement
• understand and manage consultation fatigue
• diverse and/or fragmented communities.

Overall, these results illustrate that mining and minerals processing operations have multiple levels of motivation for engaging with their local communities. Effective community engagement relies heavily on the personal commitment by individual community engagement officers. However, the nature of community interaction is reliant on the support of the operation’s general manager, and can vary markedly across operational areas.

Interaction with the different levels of local community — such as individuals, stakeholder groups and Shire representatives — varies widely in each case study. Many of the communities we visited needed support to engage with the mining operations in a formal manner. Public distrust and cynicism toward large corporations can be addressed; for example, by demonstrating respect for community concerns. Most community interviewees were ‘matter of fact’ about the benefits companies receive from community engagement and community support, expressing neither an overt distrust nor a naïve faith in the company goodwill.
Subjects EX
370104 Urban Sociology and Community Studies
759999 Other social development and community services
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Thu, 23 Aug 2007, 21:21:01 EST