Community Consultation

Concerns about the lack of effectiveness and efficiency of established processes for community consultation across a wide range of project planning exercises have been a major motivator of our plans for Kororoit Institute. From that experience it could be argued that the much publicised controversy over a supposed fake community consultation re the Windsor Hotel site missed the point in that there has never been reason to fake any of them because they can never do anything more useful than stockpiling opposition.

Late in 2010 several Kororoit Proponents produced and delivered a Special Session, “Putting Community Knowledge in Place”, within the Melbourne 2010 Knowledge Cities World Summit which was motivated by these concerns. More broadly, the aim is to glue together human and technical systems to encourage the collection, curating, utilisation and recognition of information currently only residing “in the heads and bottom drawers of non-traditional owners” so we can get better supported planning and implementation outcomes.

This work particularly aims to empower community-based history, environment and similar groups to accelerate their collection and digitisation of resource materials which can provide context for planning and decision making at all levels. Earlier in 2010 one of us prepared a schematic setting out the context for such a capability, drawing on a parallel model for non-emergency reporting.

Our interdisciplinary approach and knowledge management strengths give us a special appreciation of why prevailing models of community consultation fail, but this is not the place to try to go into that in full detail. Suffice to say that the relatively transient career staff of responsible authorities and their retinue of consultants selected for domain rather than local expertise can hardly avoid forming their own preferred positions which then frame any attempt at community consultation leaving no space for real improvement. How much better might it be if these people could start out with direct access to a bank of knowledge setting the local context, with transparent tracking of how that context had influenced their proposal?