Northern Territory Government Remote Engagement and Coordination Online Toolkit

Most common mistakes

Thanks to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and DLGCS regional office staff for providing these mistakes and the tips to avoid making them.

  • Arriving unannounced in the community and not making sure the community knows who you are, what you are trying to engage them over.
  • Forgetting to liaise with service providers key stakeholders prior to a visit.
  • Not doing the groundwork and not having the right people involved — for example, the main community leader is missing.
  • Misunderstanding the cultural governance and leadership systems and talking to the wrong people.
  • Not using the knowledge of staff who are familiar with that community (whether regional office or Darwin based).
  • Assuming that your time is more valuable than community residents and expecting they will fit in with your schedule — rather than vice versa.
  • Not being able to spend enough time on your visit.
  • Not considering what the daily or seasonal routines of the community are. How many people are likely to be around (or available) at the time or on the day you want to meet with them?
  • Assuming that what you have to say is important to the community when sometimes it just isn’t.
  • Not knowing who else is working on an issue or program you’re wanting to talk about — other agencies or NGOs for example.
  • Misunderstanding the local politics or getting caught up in the local politics and taking sides.
  • Assuming that community members or service providers know that you are coming — information doesn’t always get passed on.
  • Assuming the audience knows what you are talking about.
  • Using government speak, including acronyms.
  • Not using an interpreter when one is clearly needed to get your message across.
  • Accepting nodding heads and people saying yes as confirmation that they agree with what you’re saying.
  • Choosing the ‘fly in, fly out’ meeting option and — even worse — leaving thinking that someone on the ground will run with whatever project/activity you are flogging — this does not happen.
  • Expecting a decision right there and then.
  • Assuming people will turn up on time, and getting upset when they don’t.
Last updated: 23 Aug 2016