The Adelaide Statement – Community Engagement

  • June 04, 2024

Adelaide Statement Pledge – Community Engagement

By PLA Advisory member: Lucilla Marshall

The Adelaide Statement emerged from the 2023 Joint International Congress held in Adelaide, Australia. This congress brought together professionals, scholars, policymakers, and community leaders from around the world to address critical challenges related to parks, leisure, and the urban environment1. Here are some key points from the statement:

  1. Climate Challenges and Urban Ecosystems
  2. Equitable Access and Inclusivity
  3. Urban Expansion and Green Spaces
  4. Climate Change Resilience
  5. Addressing Social Inequities

One of the six Pledges of the Adelaide Statement is to explore community engagement models and approaches that foster stewardship of parks and leisure experiences by citizens while promoting collaboration among individuals, communities, and authorities.

Effective community engagement is essential for stewardship of parks and leisure experiences. There are many models and approaches our industry can take to ensure that the parks and leisure experiences across our communities are meaningful and fit for purpose. Some models and approaches may include:

  1. Inter-Ministerial and Inter-Departmental Committees: These committees facilitate collaboration across government departments and agencies. They can help align policies and actions related to parks and leisure a great example of this is the NSW Everyone can Play Guidelines.
  2. Community Consultations: Engaging citizens and communities through consultations allows them to provide input, share concerns, and contribute to decision-making. Techniques like Citizens’ Juries, on site workshops and community surveys can foster meaningful dialogue.
  3. Cross-Sector Action Teams: Bringing together stakeholders from various sectors (e.g., government, nonprofits, businesses) promotes collaboration. These teams can work on joint initiatives related to parks and leisure.
  4. Partnership Platforms: Creating platforms for partnerships encourages collaboration among individuals, communities, and authorities. These partnerships can drive positive change and enhance stewardship. This can work effectively with developers and local government to plan for recreation needs in the early stages of new developments.
  5. Health Lens Analysis: Applying a health lens to policies and projects helps consider health impacts and equity. It ensures that parks and leisure experiences benefit all segments of the population.

For further insights into other ways to successfully ensure community engagement and ownership of recreation and leisure projects that have made a positive impact on both the community and the spaces and places include:

  • “Friends of the Park” Programs

These programs involve local residents volunteering their time and skills to maintain and improve parks. They organise clean-up events, tree planting, and community gardening. By actively participating, citizens develop a sense of ownership and pride in their local green spaces.

  • Interactive Art Installations: Collaborative art installations within parks engages the community. For example, creating a mural or sculpture collectively allows residents to express their creativity and connect with each other. These installations often become landmarks and focal points for community gatherings.
  • Community Gardens: Establishing community gardens within parks encourages residents to grow their own produce. These spaces foster social interaction, knowledge sharing, and healthy lifestyles. People from diverse backgrounds come together to cultivate and harvest fresh food.
  • Park Design Workshops: Inviting community members to participate in park design workshops ensures that their needs and preferences are considered. Residents can provide input on playground equipment, seating areas, walking trails, and other amenities.
  • Nature Education Programs: Parks can host educational programs on topics like wildlife, ecology, and conservation. These programs engage children, families, and adults, fostering a deeper appreciation for nature. Guided nature walks, birdwatching sessions, and workshops on sustainable practices are effective ways to connect with the community.
  • Youth Leadership Initiatives: Empowering young people to take leadership roles in park-related projects builds their sense of responsibility and community engagement. Youth-led initiatives, such as organizing outdoor movie nights, sports tournaments, or environmental awareness campaigns, create positive experiences for everyone.
  • Park Festivals and Events: Regular festivals, concerts, and cultural events held in parks attract diverse crowds. These gatherings celebrate local talent, food, and traditions. They strengthen community bonds and encourage people to visit parks regularly.
  • Adopt-a-Park Programs: Like “Friends of the Park,” these programs allow businesses, schools, or community groups to adopt specific parks. They commit to maintaining cleanliness, organizing events, and promoting park usage. In return, they receive recognition and a sense of civic pride.

Community engagement projects are context-specific and should align with the unique needs and demographics of the local community. By involving residents in decision-making and fostering a sense of ownership, parks can truly become vibrant and cherished spaces for all.

To ensure you are undertaking effective engagement in our parks and recreation spaces, measuring the impact of community engagement in parks is essential to assess the effectiveness of initiatives and ensure positive outcomes. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods provides a comprehensive view of community engagement impact. Here are some key indicators and methods for measuring impact:

  1. Usage Metrics
  2. Surveys and Feedback
  3. Social Media and Online Presence
  4. Volunteer Participation
  5. Community Events and Programs
  6. Health and Well-Being Indicators
  7. Economic Impact
  8. Safety and Security
  9. Stewardship Behaviour

The Adelaide Statement emphasises the need for sustainable, inclusive, and resilient parks and leisure spaces. By engaging communities and fostering collaboration, we can create vibrant, people-oriented environments that enhance health and well-being and stewardship ensuring a community connection to each other and country.

We encourage you to ensure you undertake meaningful community engagement that assist us in making sustainable, inclusive, and resilient parks and leisure spaces for the community’s we work and live in.