Why Community Engagement is More Important Than Ever

Community Engagement

As our world rebuilds and we are confronting the “pandemic hangover”, it’s become abundantly clear a sense of community matters for businesses more than ever before!

From collaborating to seeing more and more people (both physically and virtually) come together to achieve great things, it’s no doubt tackling these challenges as a united front, has been one of (if only) the positive outcomes from the recent COVID fallout.

We sat down with Cove Member and Philanthropy Executive, Nina Davis, from Karrkad Kanjdji Trust, to dive a bit deeper and share with us, how communities are moving forward and adapting to this new normal.

Hi Nina, thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us this month! Your role sounds very unique. Can you please tell us a bit about the Karrkad Kanjdiji Trust & the work you are doing together?

The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust (KKT) works with Indigenous ranger groups in West and Central Arnhem Land, NT. We bring together ranger groups, communities and philanthropists to address some of our nation’s most pressing issues, including environmental conservation, education and employment. Our work is both unique and respectful with each project we partner on being 100% community driven, from concept to implementation.

We are a small team of five, and share a lot of the responsibilities of the organisation together. As Philanthropy Executive, my focus is to find philanthropists, brands and organisations who wish to support the sustainability of land management and cultural heritage work, while enabling the ongoing self-determination of the people of West and Central Arnhem Land. It's a really interesting job that often has me flying around the Country (pre-pandemic times) and spending a lot of time in Arnhem Land.

You are studying a Master of Aboriginal Studies - fascinating! Please tell us a bit more about this and what lead you down this path…

As an Australian and a non-Indigenous person working on behalf of our Indigenous partners, I felt it was incredibly important to learn about the real history of Australia. My schooling lacked this aspect and I wanted to right that wrong. Every day I learn more about the longest living culture in the world and I am so grateful that I get to work alongside people who are making a positive environmental impact.

We are highlighting all things community this month. In light of the current climate, it’s clear “community” matters for businesses more than ever before…. with your experience, how important is community engagement now? What are your thoughts?

Community is at the centre of everything we do. Without it, there is no one to talk to, sit with or share ideas with. Having a strong community with strong values makes us better people who are able to make better decisions for our planet.

In the current climate, where many people are isolated due to the pandemic, finding a community that supports you is more important than ever. Thinking of innovative ways to engage communities creates interest and helps people want to take part in what their community has to offer. If you're working from home in Brisbane, Cove provides a warm and nurturing community, with lots of people doing really interesting work!

How do you see communities moving forward & adapting to this new normal? What do communities need to do in order to thrive?

In light of the pandemic, many businesses had to pivot to allow their staff to work from home, become more flexible with working hours and provide interesting ways to hold meetings over video call. For many workplaces they have kept this flexibility in place, which is a wonderful thing. What is lacking, is new and inventive ways to keep staff engaged.

The focus of all decisions should always be 'What is best for the community?' weather this is for work, sport, music, online, politics etc. If every decision is made with the community in mind, and members have a chance to voice their needs, you have a much higher chance of building a strong, collaborative community.

Anything else you would like to add? (Re Community engagement & the work you do specifically!)

At KKT, our Indigenous partner organisations focus all of their work around what is best for their community. They do this by talking to all Traditional Owners of the Country they're working on before starting any new project so that a) community engagement is high and b) the key voices whom will be affected by the change have a chance to offer opinions and changes.

I admire this process as key leaders are involved, there is time to voice any concerns and ideas, and projects go ahead based on what the community really want and need. We could all learn from this process.

Thank you all for reading about what I do! If you have any questions about our work, please don't hesitate to get in contact via email or come and find me downstairs at Cove 🙂

Nina Davis
April 7, 2022
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