Turn It Up – A virtual community engagement conference

One take away from the year 2020 is that community engagement is vital. As we respond to the dual health and economic crises, backgrounded with a climate change emergency and a crisis of political confidence, understanding and defining what’s important to communities is critical to the success of society.

As community leaders, civic servants, engagement practitioners and captains of industry, we are drawn to listen and empower people to create sustainable public policy and social impact.

As 2020 ends, now is the time to re-group, openly share, problem solve and build a momentum for recovery.

Turn It Up was a virtual conference which brought skilled listeners, communicators, researchers, facilitators and problem solvers together for a three-day event to pause, reflect, connect and share to advance our practice and prepare for what lies ahead.

Brought together by Capire and Friends we wanted to come together to help our communities get back on track.

Recordings of each session are below.

Our Turn It Up conference has now ended. If you are interested in receiving information about Capire initiatives please sign up to our newsletter here


Day one      20 October

    9am to 9.45am

Session 1.1

What is the Voice? What is its role and responsibility? How can it be powerful? 

As we turn our attention to recovery, the role of “Voice” is critical to advancing the aspirations of our communities. Hearing and valuing “voice” is one thing, but shaping power structures, systems and cultures to ensure it is understood, is quite another. To design how this happens, it is not only takes those in a position of power but all of us who seek to be understood.

Join Benson Saulo, Australia’s first Indigenous in-coming Consul-General to the US, in a conversation about the role of voice in recovery of a nation and a recognition of its first people.

Benson Saulo is a descendant of the Wemba Wemba and Gunditjmara Aboriginal nations of Western Victoria, and New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea.

Benson brings insight, passion and experience that he has develop throughout his working life from across corporate, not-for-profit and government sectors. In 2011, Benson was appointed the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations in which he undertook a national engagement tour to gain a deeper understanding of issues impacting Australian youth. Benson then represented Australian youth at the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly as an accredited member of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

   10am to 11.30am

Session 1.2

How to make engagement Accessible?

Making engagement accessible means different things to different engagement practitioners but what does it mean to participants? This session aims to explore the good, the bad and the ugly side of engagement practices from various perspectives. Attendees will develop a deep understanding of the impacts of inaccessible engagement and come a way with a variety of tools and techniques to improve their practice. This session will involve panel discussions and group work.

Workshop facilitated by Ben Neil of Capire.

   12pm to 1pm

Session 1.3

Learning to FOC – A Story of Insights from Transitioning from Face-to-Face Facilitation to Online Engagement

Tune in to hear community engagement specialist and professional facilitator, Becky Hirst, share her insights and lessons learnt from transitioning from face-to-face facilitation to facilitating online conversations in 2020! It's been quite the ride and Becky will be reflecting on the transition, including but not limited to -

  • Throwing the rule book and risk register out the window
  • Energy and pace in the online world 
  • Tales of panic - and how authenticity saves the day 
  • How in 2020 we've grown our community engagement toolkit for the better - and there's no going back... or is there?

Presented by Becky Hirst of Becky Hirst Consulting.

   1pm to 2pm

Session 1.4

Community engagement practitioners!

Who are they? Where have they come from? What do they do? How do they do it? What do they excel at? What do they struggle with? Are they really that good looking?

Drawing on interdisciplinary research from around the globe, this session will explore all of these questions. See what we’re starting to learn about these important people who design, deliver, evaluate and report on participatory and deliberative processes!

Presented by Dr. Helen Christensen.

   2pm to 3.30pm

Session 1.5

Building resilience through neighbourhood mapping

Part of building resilience is about taking stock of what we have and understanding what makes people proud of their community, like helpful and active neighbours, tight community networks, strong place identity, and colourful neighbourhood stories – things we hold onto in times of crisis. Can we showcase these assets with maps?

Connie is a picture book and map illustrator based in Hong Kong. She uses illustrated maps to tell stories in cities and has been invited to Japan Echigo-Tsumari Art Field to exhibit her work. She is a compassionate artist who loves spending time in the neighbourhood to co-draw maps with the community. In this 1.5 hour workshop, we will explore how maps can be a useful engagement tool and a way to capture community assets. We’ll also play a mapping game with Connie, that will help you develop your own neighbourhood map, NO DEGREE IN FINE ARTS IS NEEDED.

Presented by Connie Yuen.

   3.30pm to 5pm

Session 1.6

(Ridiculous) Peoples Debate

This is not your usual debate! By the people, for the people. The audience will hands-on shape this participatory experience, to debate the ridiculous debate statement:

**Face to face community engagement is dead**

Dan Popping is team leader for the 'pro.' Max Hardy is team leader for the 'con'. Moderated by Valli Morphett from Design Jam. Special judging panel to be announced soon.

Gloves come off on 20 October, 3.30-5.00pm.

Lead by Valli Morphett of Design Jam, Dan Popping of Bang The Table, and Max Hardy of Max Hardy Consulting.


Day two      21 October

    9.30am to 10.15am

Session 2.1

How to talk about climate change in a way that makes a difference

Why is it so hard to talk about climate change? While scientists double down on the shocking figures, we still find ourselves unable to discuss climate change meaningfully among friends and neighbours - or even to grapple with it ourselves. The key to progress on climate change is in the psychology of human attitudes and our ability to change.

Whether you're already alarmed and engaged with the issue, concerned but disengaged, a passive skeptic or an active denier, understanding our emotional reactions to climate change - why it makes us anxious, fearful, angry, or detached - is critical to coping on an individual level and convincing each other to act. Rebecca will explore how we can better understand why people feel the way they do about climate change and learn to talk to them effectively.

A conversation with Rebecca Huntley.

   10.15am to 11.45am

Session 2.2

Developing a robust city vision and plan - sharing international research on the best practice engagement

In 2020, Leanne Hodyl from Hodyl & Co., and Desley Renton from Renton and Co collaborated to undertake a research and engagement project into best practice city visions and city plans. The research involved 30 cities from around the world. 

In this session, Desley and Leanne will present an overview of the process and the findings.  We will share the innovative engagement practices from a number of international examples paying attention to success measures. We will look at Copenhagen, Reading, Dublin, Christchurch, Fremantle and Logan. 

The session will also be interactive and provide conference participants will opportunities to enquire more deeply into the research findings. 

Presented by Desley Renton of Renton Co, and Leanne Hodyl of Hodyl & Co.

   12pm to 1pm

Session 2.3A

Connection Before Content. Designing Experiential Online Workshops that Enhance Community Engagement

Serious Woo is an experiential learning organisation that made a solemn vow NEVER to deliver online. Their arts-based approach would never translate. Nor would their high energy workshops. A 100% cancellation rate of their 2020 bookings made them open to experimentation. 🙂 

They ate their hats and they never looked back. Learn how Serious Woo employed their own ethos of play and experimentation to redesign their face-to-face offerings to increase connection and engagement. 

Presented by Kate Crawshaw and Trudi Boatwright of Serious Woo.

   12pm to 12.45pm

Session 2.3B

Taking young people off 'mute!'- Listening to young people about their post-COVID future 

Capire have had some great conversations about engaging young people over the last 12 months but what does this look like during COVID and in recovery?

We know that young people are disproportionately affected by COVID so how do we engage them while being sensitive to that experience? What works, what doesn’t? Intersectionality! Promotion!?! We say young people are hard to reach but really, what are the right ways to reach them and who should do the reaching?

Join Melissa Yee from Capire who will be hosting Mehak Sheikh, Ali Noura and Akeer Garang, three young people who are making a difference in their communities, in a panel session to unpack some of these big questions and more. So whether you’re younger, older or in the middle, join us to understand how to best engage young people in a post-COVID future.

   1pm to 2pm

Session 2.4

Don’t be yourself, unless you want to mess it up for others

At a time when we are trying to make an emotional connection with someone that appears to be the size of a stamp on screen, we need to be conscious of our natural tendencies and those of others. Just as there are subtleties in face-to-face that aid or hinder community (gestures, change in body language, change in breathing in colour). These exist also online. We are all programmed differently, not enough to be noticeable, yet noticeable enough to create confusion, unintentionally offend or misconstrue a clear message. 

In this session, Cindy Plowman from Conversation Caravan, takes you through the key learning and behavioural preferences and how to apply this to your online engagement program.

   2pm to 3.30pm

Session 2.5

Deliberation: Done Dirt Cheap

Well, not really. But let’s look at how it can be done differently 

How can we deliver meaningful and inclusive community engagement and meet Council’s strategic planning requirements? Just as importantly, how can we do deliberative community engagement efficiently within the resources available, without compromising the principles of deliberative community engagement? This is not a new dilemma for local governments, but right now across Victoria these questions are being asked.

Join Max Hardy of Max Hardy Consulting and Clare Murrell of Capire, to look at how deliberative engagement can be done differently, unpack the common dilemmas we face in designing deliberative processes, and share ideas on how to overcome them. In this session, you will hear from a number of examples that Max and Capire have been involved in and have the opportunity to discuss your own challenges and opportunities.

   3.30pm to 4.30pm

Session 2.6

Diversity is more than demographics

Community engagement practitioners are passionate about making sure decision-makers hear from as many different people as possible.  Diversity in the engaged community is seen as a critical measure of success. But what if using demographics to determine what a cross-section of the community looks like is not enough?  

People are not only hard to reach because of their socio-economic status, age, gender, or cultural background. What if demographics are not enough? Lisa will share her discoveries about how sociographics, the characteristics that influence the way people receive and perceive messages, can be used to design better engagement processes and communication to really reach the 'hard to reach'.  

Presented by Lisa McLeod of Connect Consulting.


Day three    22 October

    9am to 10am

Session 3.1

Community Action as Political power, The Indi Way  

How one community elected a community representative to the House of Representatives, who stayed in touch and together with community was able to deliver - as well as  ‘things', independent representation, also confidence and empowerment, and the electorate continues to lead on policies for national integrity and climate action.

A conversation with Cathy McGowan.

   10am to 11.30am

Session 3.2

On the road to recovery: the new world of engagement

What will community engagement look like in a ‘COVID normal’ world?

Our communities are now more connected than ever through technology and stronger local networks. How can we as practitioners use this in planning for future engagement strategies.

This interactive session will unpack some of the interesting and successful ways participants have adapted their approaches during COVID. We will also explore what they think they will continue to do in a ‘COVID normal’ environment. During this session, you can expect to connect with new peers, lively debate, and to learn new ideas and approaches.

Presented by Eleanor Howe and Niamh Moynihan of Capire.

   12pm to 1pm

Session 3.3

Resilience and going the distance

Are we doing okay or are we coping, how do we know and how do we grow our resilience to deal with all that 2020 has thrown at us?

Join Joel Levin on a topic close to his heart: resilience.

Joel is Managing Director of Aha! Consulting, a company focused on Strategy, Engagement and Facilitation. Since 2004, Aha! Consulting has worked with local, state, federal governments, different industries across Australia and Internationally with the United Nations,

On the engagement front - Joel is an International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Trainer, Ambassador and Australasian Board member, he is the Co-chair of the Global Practice development committee.

   1pm to 2.00pm

Session 3.4

Children and engagement

Using a range of practice and research projects, Andrea will highlight some of the 'bear fruit' — and some of the 'bear trap' — moments in engaging with children on questions affecting them now and into the future. Emphasis will be put on the dilemmas that COVID-19 puts upon children participating actively in civic life and some ways in which we might innovatively include children in post-pandemic city building and decision-making.

Presented by Andrea Cook.

   2pm to 3pm

Session 3.5

Street walk and talk

Step away from the computers and join Jacob Komesaroff as he guides you through a personalised tour of your neighbourhood via your mobile phone. Lockdown has meant that we’ve all spent a lot more time in our neighbourhoods. In this session, we will explore community assets and the way in which living more locally has impacted our connection to our local area. Through audio notes, music selfies and photographs, this session will be even more captivating than your last podcast! 

Presented by Jacob Komesaroff of Capire.

   3.30pm to 4.30pm

Session 3.6

Kurunjang - testing an approach to engaging community on public safety initiatives

From a local neighbourhood block party with Elsa the Disney Princess, a jumping castle and a DJ; the Kurunjang Community Project resulted in community endorsed concept and funding application for renewal of an unloved open space in Kuranjang. This session shares the experiences of community members who embarked on a journey over eight months to address public safety through a facilitated community led initiative.

Join Denise Francisco from Capire and members of the local Kuranjang community who will share their journey about how they worked together to make Kurunjang an even better place to live; and to develop projects to increase community safety. In this session you will hear about how this group transitioned from sharing a meal and games for the kids at the Kurunjang Community Centre to meeting in a Facebook Messenger Room during coronavirus (COVID-19).

We will share our learnings of principles and good practice for community led approaches which build on the strengths of local communities.

Presented by Denise Francisco of Capire.