Reflections from the 2023 IAP2 Conference


Capire recently attended the 2023 IAP2 Australasia Conference in Brisbane. Held over three days from 24 to 26 October, the conference is an annual opportunity for community engagement professionals to share, network, gain insights and celebrate outstanding achievements in our field.

This year’s conference offered fascinating insights into mental health, building back after disaster, renewable energy, and the future of AI (both illuminating and alarming!). Standout speakers included musician Clare Bowditch, wellbeing expert Mitch Wallis, and Nova Peris: former Olympian and Australia’s first Indigenous woman elected to federal parliament.

Mitch Wallis’s presentation ‘Connecting from the Heart’ highlighted the importance of active listening, understanding universal struggles and healing past wounds – all relevant topics for community engagement professionals. He urged us to prioritise our own emotional well-being, which is essential if we are to support others.

‘As engagement practitioners we put ourselves out to take in other people’s emotions – anger, mistrust, fear, love, hate, shame,’ said Capire Associate Tiffany Tang. ‘Yet we rarely talk about our feelings and ask others “how are you feeling out of 10?”. I was reminded by Mitch that if we wear our hashtag #heartonsleeve that is a great help to others who are drowning under the surface.’

For Tiffany, the best part of the conference was meeting new practitioners in the field – people who stumbled upon engagement without realising it. ‘I met people who worked in radio broadcasting, storytelling, engineering, fire management, resources planning, disaster recovery, songwriters, artists in their previous career, who suddenly found themselves in this new “engagement” family.’

Capire Senior Associate Denise Francise also found the conference a great chance to meet ‘many empathetic, passionate, outcome-focused practitioners’. She commended the strong focus on self-care, supporting others, and relationships as the ‘heartbeat to life and business’.

Capire Client Executive Matt Gordon valued the focus of community and customer engagement in the renewable energy domain. ‘The panel discussion on engaging communities in the energy transition was essential to anyone looking to make meaningful change in this space. We had a power-house of leaders present their challenges to the community engagement sector related to development of new energy generation and transmission.’ As Capire is growing its experience and expertise in this sector, the conference was a great opportunity to share ideas and meet people facing similar challenges.

Denise, Tiffany and Matt look forward to applying their new insights and relationships to their work at Capire.

The conference was also a celebration of leading practice in community engagement, with the 2023 Core Values Awards held on the final night. View the winners here!