Community engagement as 'core business' for communicators working in Australian local government'

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Most Australian local government (LGOV) organisations employ at least one person who specialises in communication, although they go by different position titles. Beyond position descriptions and the plans of individual LGOV organisations, there are few professional principles to guide LGOV communication practice. Research has found that local government communication tends to be dominated by media relations in Australia and in the US. This paper examines ways that LGOV communication is conceptualised and reflects on the imperative to communicate well in a democracy. It reports governance, culture and communication technology trends that are driving a need for ever more sophisticated communication in the execution of government. The paper argues that listening and engaging are central to the mission of local governments, and that the participatory, inclusive, collaborative engagement increasingly required is beyond the present capacity of most councils. The paper argues that LGOV communication has mostly been conceptualised as one-way communication, and proposes that it would be more usefully conceptualised as two-way communication, and as more participatory than controlling. The paper challenges LGOV communicators, as individuals and as a professional group, to reorient in several ways that enhance LGOV capacity for engagement and participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2014 ANZCA Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationThe digital and the social: communication for inclusion and exchange
EditorsDiana Bossio
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2014 Annual Conference - Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 09 Jul 201411 Jul 2014 (Conference proceedings)

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1448-4331


ConferenceAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2014 Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleThe digital and the social: Communication for inclusion and exchange
OtherThe annual conference the major event in the ANZCA calendar. The conference provides members with valuable professional development opportunities, including scholarly publication, networking and presentation, and learning about the latest national and international trends in media and communications research, teaching and learning. Research students are encouraged and supported to take advantage of formal and informal mentoring opportunities afforded by participation in the conference and other activities of the association. The conference also provides an important occasion for recognizing the achievements and contributions of members in the field.

Each year the conference is held in a different location in either Australia or New Zealand, and is organised by the incoming Vice-president (who becomes the Association's president for the following year). For information about the forthcoming conference please follow the link on the right hand side of this page.
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