Challenge of community engagement

Article image - Challenge of community engagement Community engagement in Aurukun Shire Council

Aurukun Shire Council is overcoming the challenge of community engagement in a remote area of Australia by successfully engaging with its residents via social media.

The council began its Facebook page less than 12 months ago to positively engage its youth, and has already achieved impressive reach, highlighting the positive news stories of the community.

Since the page’s launch in June 2014, Aurukun Shire Council’s most popular post has reached an audience of almost 1,000.

With Aurukun’s population numbering just 1,400, the Facebook page has significant reach locally within the region, and even overseas.

Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Dereck Walpo said the Indigenous community had embraced social media as a form of communication.

“Last year, we recognised the benefits of social media as an inexpensive and user friendly tool which could reach the immediate community and the broader public.

“By sharing positive aspects and pictures of everyday life in Aurukun, events, career opportunities and local art, we (the council) grew an online community built around positive engagement.

“We have encouraged Aurukun Shire Council staff to engage with the updates on their own Facebook accounts, creating a roll-on effect within the community.

“As a result, we have increased ‘Likes’ on the page, and have also had a steady increase in page hits.

“We have been very pleased with the interaction and community response to our Facebook page to date.

“The cost has been low in terms of a cash expense, and while it has necessitated a fair degree of time and resources to establish and maintain an engaging presence, the time investment has paid excellent dividends in terms of increasing community engagement and stakeholder communication.

“For one of our key target audiences, namely our younger residents, social media is considered a crucial method of interaction.”

Aurukun Shire Council also created the page as part of a strategy to find new ways to engage and communicate with the community.

“Isolation limits our ability to attract skilled workers, and the cost of commodities rating is among the highest in the state, alongside other social and community issues,” said Mayor Walpo.

“The Facebook page has been a great way to connect further with the community, keep them updated on positive news and events from Aurukun, and also give them another voice.”

You can ‘Like’ the Aurukun Shire Council Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/AurukunShireCouncil