Engaging with Victorian water customers – how and why

May 21, 2024

We worked with the Victorian Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action (DEECA), Alluvium and water practitioners throughout Victoria to understand how water corporations and catchment management authorities engage with customers, and explore the difference between activities in metropolitan/urban areas and regional/rural areas.

The key to effective engagement is adapting strategies to evolving community needs and technology advancements. Pleasingly, our research shows organisations are transitioning from engaging to satisfy legal or government requirements only, to more genuine engagement that guides organisation strategies and decision making. Currently, organisations use a variety of engagement methods, such as online platforms, surveys, workshops, community events and educational activities. Factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and natural events (e.g. bushfires and floods) have prompted significant shifts in engagement activities, with a shift towards online engagement and storytelling.

We made some recommendations for water agencies, based on our findings:

  • Be clear on the purpose of engagement and what it can (and cannot) influence.
  • Invest in core, regionally appropriate, water literacy programs, as well as specific project campaigns and behaviour change for target groups.

We also made some recommendations for DEECA:

  • Continue to build capability within and between water organisations.
  • Support water organisations to better engage with target groups.
  • Support water organisations to improve the efficiency and impact of engagement through evaluation and monitoring.
Download the report
The report also feeds into our broader national mainstreaming project on building community water literacy. We are working with the Monash Climate Change Community Research Hub to develop and test practical strategies to develop and evaluate engagement activities that create engaged communities who actively participate in decision making about water.
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