ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

A Community Engagement Series: Regional Facilitator in the Albury LGA (2016)

Strategic Research Area

Environmental Justice and Governance for Social Change


NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH), $32,000


Dr Helen Masterman-Smith, Dr John Rafferty & Dr Marie Sheahan


This project builds on the learnings and lessons of three previous projects that the researchers have been involved with – the two Our Place-Riverina and Murray and  Our Place-Corowa projects, funded by OEH, and the Learning Communities Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program project, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education.

Dr John Rafferty and TristanThe project aims to broker community engagement strategies and options on the theme of sustainable communities.

The researchers have partnered with the Goodlife Co-operative, a not-for profit community organisation and in recognition of the need for a community-driven space, a shopfront "The Commons" in Lavington, NSW (open Mondays to Fridays from 12.30pm to 5pm) has been leased.

"The Commons" provides a venue for the flagship of the six activities in the brokerage - "The Art of Sustainability Exhibition and competition series" involving schools and community groups.

Another activity within the brokerage is to do with community resilience and engagement with the neighbourhood. Accordingly, "The Commons" is also a meeting place for informal discussions on sustainability, a food relief centre (with food provided by Foodshare, another not-for-profit community organisation), a free store, the location for a community work-board (where community members write down that they think needs attention on the social, environmental and economic sustainability front), and there is a vegetable garden and propagation nursery at the rear of the shop.

As well as helping to facilitate the activities undertaken at "The Commons," the researchers are also doing auto-ethnographic research on the project and there are plans for formal interviews with volunteer stakeholders.


Community engagement activities associated with this project include:

  • The Art of Sustainability Exhibition and competition series  which will culminate in an exhibition at the Sustainable Living Festival, co-ordinated by Albury and Wodonga City Councils
  • Public Forum – People Powered Democracy: The return of the citizen, Nov 4 & 5
  • Public Forum – People Powered Economy: Community and Social Enterprise, Nov 18 & 19
  • A grant-writing workshop held November
  • "Environmental Protection Unplugged" activities which includes talks to Rotary in Albury; for the Big Ideas series put together by Parklands Albury-Wodonga and the Bhutanese Association; and to community groups, service providers, highschool students and Natural Resource Management Practitioners


Expected outcomes from this project include:

  • an increased awareness of sustainability issues,  particularly amongst disadvantaged communities such as  those on a low-income, culturally diverse groups, Aged Care pensioners, the unemployed and people with disabilities
  • community engagement strategies that are effective in reaching the above groups of people, traditionally considered to be "hard to reach"

This project has led to funding from the NSW Environmental Trust, for a $100,000 project "Powering Down" to commence in 2017. The new project is modelled on the current project and is aimed at the same neighbourhood/communities but with a focus on energy efficiency and security.


Dr Helen Masterman-Smith
CSU Albury-Wodonga


November 2016