Public Participation and Community Engagement in Decision Making


In this 2-day course you will examine public participation and community engagement processes and outcomes with an expert team of university scholars and industry leaders who research, teach and work in the field.

Workshops, case study analysis, presentations, role plays, and group discussions will enable you to gain the necessary skills to design, deliver, and evaluate programs that enhance dialogue between communities, civil society and governments.

Specifically designed to address recommendations in the recent hard-hitting Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) report, the course explores ways to address issues of exclusion and inclusion, power, culture, democratic participation and deliberation when designing community engagement plans.

In a collaborative environment, the ‘wicked problems’ in public participation will be investigated, including the reported decline in political engagement among youth, and reasons for this trend.

You will analyse participation and engagement models and principles, proven to enhance the public’s engagement in decisions that affect their communities and lives. Highly regarded industry experts will share their experiences including how to document evidence and best practice principles when designing and implementing public participation activities.

Course content


  • VAGO report summary by Victorian Auditor General’s Office
  • Best practice models and principles in community engagement and public participation
  • The influence of politics and power on public participation
  • Active Listening: how to design, deliver, evaluate, and document listening
  • Stakeholder identification & analysis


  • How to write a Community Engagement Plan: key components and processes
  • Thinking about Impact: program evaluation
  • Architecture of Space
  • Digital engagement
  • Scenario Planning
  • Industry Case studies

Ideal for

Participants may be from state government departments, local government, state authorities or any organisation where public participation in the decision-making process is required. We welcome people who are working, studying, or interested in a career related to public participation, community engagement, development and social change-not for profit, civil society organisations, communication, urban planning, community development, community engagement, education, health, architecture etc.

More information


Upon completion of this course you will:
• Be familiar with community engagement models and principles: know how to select the model best suited to achieve specific project outcomes.
• Identify stakeholders and analyse their needs in relation to community-based issues
• Understand the process of planning, delivering and evaluating a community engagement program
• Gain skills in impact and outcome evaluation of programs
• Develop a template to document programs
• Learn how to generate ‘buy in’ from your organisation and access resources required
• Reflect on the impact of personal and professional values on public participation


Participants will be over 18 years and have an interest in the role of community engagement in the decision-making process.

Materials supplied

Materials supplied include a workbook, readings, handouts, paper and pens.

Materials to bring

You are welcome to bring laptops or tablet computers. You will be engaged in blended learning that involves a range of activities both face-to-face and online. 


Participants will be awarded an RMIT Statement of Participation.

Additional notes

Please note that completion of this course will not guarantee entry into an RMIT Program.


Judy Burnside-Lawry

Senior Lecturer, RMIT University

After 15 years as a communication and community engagement practitioner, Judy completed her PhD “How Organisations Listen to their Stakeholders,” and joined academia.

Expertise: Design of community engagement and listening to address political, social and/or environmental challenges.

Guest Speaker: Michael Baranovic

Strategic Communication, Engagement and Protocol, Victorian Government
Department of Premier and Cabinet, Australia.

Expertise: ‘Engage Victoria’ Product Manager, Victoria's whole of government digital
engagement platform. Social planning, photography and engagement. Michael finds
the right digital tools to help the community join in the decision making process. The
relationship between engagement, user experience and design. |

Guest Speaker: Ken Davis

Practitioner and Consultant

Expertise: community engagement challenges. Practitioner & RMIT lecturer, Ken combinestheory & practice.

Guest Speaker: Linje Manyozo

Senior Lecturer, RMIT University. Former Director of Master in Media, Communications and
Development, London School of Economics (LSE).

Expertise: grassroots & international development. Amplifying minority voices in decision making

Guest Speaker: Louisa McPhee

Strategic communication.

Expertise:stakeholder & community relations. Communications & Engagement Advisor for
development, infrastructure & community initiatives.

Guest Speaker: Jessica Noske-Turner

Postdoctoral Researcher, RMIT University

Expertise: communication for development and social change. Industry partners include UNICEF, ABC, Co-Leader Digital Footscray Pop-Up Lab.

Guest Speaker: Jolynna Sinanan

Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Researcher, RMIT University.

Expertise: digital engagement in public participation. Co-Leader Digital Footscray Pop-Up Lab

Guest Speaker: Anthony Aisenberg

Director of CrowdSpot, an award winning digital consultancy specialising in map-based community engagement and social surveying.

Expertise:Transforming data into community priorities and insights for better decision-making.

Printable course flyer

Available course dates

Future course dates have not been confirmed. Please click here to join our mailing list.

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