Better Together - six engagement principles
The commitment to stakeholder engagement is fully articulated in the Better Together framework.
Established in 2013, Better Together is centred on the following six engagement principles which provide a consistent approach across government and to guide best practice.
- We know why we are engaging
- We know who to engage
- We know the history
- We start together
- We are genuine
- We are relevant and engaging.
The six principles are inter-related and should be considered in any engagement activity. They rely on each other and if we choose not to pursue one, the overall success of the engagement may be hindered. While the Better Together framework is established to support government agencies, the principles and practices outlined can be applied in any context.
Where to start
The Better Together resource will help you consider your intended engagement process. The third and fourth principles of Better Together should not be overlooked; knowing history and ensuring you are starting together will ensure the fifth and sixth principles of genuineness and relevance are embedded throughout your engagement.
Some things to think about in preparing to engage or as first steps in engagement might be one or more of the following:
- Identifying why it is you intend to engage with people living with disability. Is it to inform, consult, involve, collaborate or empower? (This list of engagement levels has been developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), called the IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum. It is used by Better Together. This Toolkit refers specifically to consultation and later describes co-design which has, at its core, elements of the upper end of the IAP2 Spectrum.)
- Planning informally and/or formally, and even writing an engagement or consultation plan will help get you started and keep you on track.
- Scoping the depth, detail, what’s in and what’s out (limitations or parameters), length of time needed to engage and consult (consider drawing a simple Gantt Chart — a visual representation of a project schedule or timeline), and thinking about how to gather and synthesise information, should all be considered.
- Researching your topic or reason for engagement through online searches (ensure you draw information from known and reputable sources), conversations, confirming legislative or policy requirements and understanding and aligning with organisational need.
- Storytelling can inform history, truth and context, which may be helpful in reducing bias and opening opportunity for cultural, gender, religious or other understanding. This can prevent well-intentioned but misguided actions in the engagement or consultation process.
- Respecting those involved in the engagement or consultation process and the process itself, are important. Without respect, trust cannot be built, people are disempowered, and processes and outcomes lose meaning. Respect is a key element of inclusiveness.