%0 Generic %D 2009 %T You can’t have a conversation with a brochure! Fostering community engagement principles to bring about change in local biosecurity practice %A Royce, P %X

Typically, the provision of biosecurity information to the Australian general public does not stem much further than formal, uncomplicated and one way methods of communication such as websites, road signage and brochures. While growing attention has been afforded to biosecurity and its global impact on human activity, let us hope that Australia’s response to such a challenge extends beyond simply developing snazzier websites, billboard sized road signs and a wider distribution of more colourful brochures in a multitude of different languages.

Although the existing rhetoric assumes that biosecurity management requires a ‘whole of community’ approach, there is very little evidence to suggest that local population groups have the capacity to undertake, or should be responsible for, such tasks in the current biosecurity climate. One of the fundamental flaws in this thinking presupposes that members of any particular community have equal access to biosecurity related information, that this information is equitably distributed according to cultural, linguistic, social, economic and physical attributes, that biosecurity information is equally adopted as new knowledge, that community members are motivated to translate new knowledge into action and that community members have equal access and opportunities to participate in local decision making processes and therefore social change. Unfortunately, this is not the reality in most Australian communities. This seminar presentation reports on the findings of an extensive qualitative research study in a north Australian agricultural region, which indicate that applying the principles of community engagement to biosecurity management may be a far more effective way to raise biosecurity awareness and bring about social change and transformation that is relevant, meaningful and authentic to communities and its members.