Methods of inclusive engagement and consultation
There is no limit to the way in which you can engage and consult with communities. Conducting an engagement process may form part of an ‘event’. For information on how to conduct an accessible and inclusive event, refer to the Accessible and Inclusive Community Events toolkit.
Having a variety of consultation methods is key to inclusive engagement and ensures people with a range of disability or diverse circumstances are included.
Engagement options to consider
- One-on-one meetings or interviews help break down barriers and provide opportunity for in-depth understanding.
- Questionnaires and surveys which may be done in hardcopy or online options such as SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics, which can be sent out through email or published on a website such as YourSAy.
- Formal, informal group meetings or roundtable discussions which can use a range of different techniques of engagement.
- Steering groups, advisory panels, workshops, focus groups or stakeholder forums that are directed and/or guided through different discussions.
- Public forums which enable voices from across the community to be heard.
- Conferences and seminars that include speakers and plenary sessions, workshops and information gathering.
- Field days, demonstrations, trials and displays which engage the general community or targeted groups seeking feedback and input in design or for the purposes of publicising services or products.
Offering a variety of ways to engage with people allows for a broader and more inclusive consultation.
Include representation of people with lived experience of disability across a range of advisory, reference and co-design groups – not just groups with a disability focus.
Consider the diversity within the community of people with disability. Methods will vary depending on individual needs (for example, visual, audio, Easy Read).
Consult and engage with your audience verbally and visually, providing a range of opportunities for people to provide feedback:
- accessible surveys, written (email or postal), online, phone or face-to-face.
- alternative format surveys can include Easy English with photos or symbols
- suggestion boards or boxes to record levels of satisfaction or suggestions for improvement
- use a variety of ways to interview that may include, face-to-face, telephone or video calls (including 1800 free call number).
- make sure websites and online forums are accessible, following the guidelines provided in the Online Accessibility Toolkit.
- focus groups with an independent facilitator.
- employing people with disability to interview and facilitate feedback and focus group sessions.
- citizen workshops or citizens’ juries – panels of people from the general public who meet to discuss their views on issues.
- targeted consultation forums or public meetings where people are invited to attend.
- YourSAy for government departments.
Considerations for people living with disability
The purpose of this toolkit is to support engagement and consultation with people with lived experience of disability. While the various methods and techniques outlined are useful in any context, specific considerations for those living with disability need to be factored into the processes involved. Consideration should also be given to the intersectionality of disability with the lived experiences of women, children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Some specific things to think about:
Engage as early as possible
Allow time to make arrangements for Auslan interpreters, organising travel or creating accessible information.
Allow enough time
Keep in mind that when engaging with people with disabilities, some processes may take longer and can require additional resources
Promote and engage well
Creating accessible information, websites and Easy Read documents can all take time.
Determine a suitable location and time of day
Think about accessible locations and what time of day is best to hold your engagement.
Allow time for input
Ensure there is sufficient time allocated for full participation remembering that use of interpreters, input by carers or use of assistive technology may require a longer overall timeframe.
Think about whether payment is appropriate
Depending on the kind of engagement, some form of payment or honorarium may be appropriate, or you may consider paying for transport and/or accommodation costs.