IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation Program Delivered in Tel Aviv Israel
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
By Barbara Chappell, IAP2 Foundations Trainer
Adelaide South Australia
South Australia has been an active supporter of IAP2 since 2004 when we organised our first public participation network event called “The good, the bad and how not to get ugly”. The original organising group was made up of local government officers charged with the responsibility of helping the community navigate through decision making ventures that affected the public. We had plenty of “heart” for the work but not much “head” for it. Fifteen years later, that original event led to two South Australians travelling to Tel Aviv to deliver the IAP2 Foundations Program in Public Participation for the Democratic Institute of Israel.
In 2007 the Local Government Association of South Australia endorsed The Community Engagement Handbook: A model framework for leading practice in local government in South Australia. The handbook was the result of several years of background work in building an understanding of public participation in South Australia. It included training in the IAP2 Certificate Program and regular network events to build the capacity of government staff to practice effective public participation.
In 2015 the South Australian Government through the Department for Premier and Cabinet (DPC) developed the Better Together Program based on the IAP2 model. This connected the practice in local and state government; and provided a consistent approach for the public of South Australia to participation in decision making.
Late last year a delegation from the Democratic Institute of Israel made contact with Brett Manuel of the DPC. They had been researching effective public participation around the world and found what they were looking for in South Australia. Brett took up a new position in government, however he continued to correspond with the delegation members and organised a schedule of meetings and events for their visit to Adelaide in February of this year. This relationship established by Brett and extended to me (Barbara), resulted in an invitation to deliver the Foundations Program in Tel Aviv in July 2019.
We arrived in Tel Aviv on the 12th July and I started delivering training on the 16th July. The participants in the course were all skilled facilitators who work with teachers in schools throughout Israel. They knew a lot about using techniques such as World Café, Fishbowl and Open Space. What they wanted to learn more about was how to plan for effective civic participation (the term for P2 in Israel) to become more effective in the use of the techniques they were using.
The enthusiasm and energy of the participants created one of my most memorable training experiences to date. The way we were able to laugh and learn together was a clear demonstration of the valuable work of the institute in Israeli schools; and of the internationality of the IAP2 training program. The content, materials and delivery of the training crossed cultures in Tel Aviv as it did in Jakarta. Participants who truly want better outcomes in decision making for stakeholders recognise the common ground in the IAP2 program; and it is the trainer’s role to adapt the materials to meet cultural, geographic and organisational needs and interests.
One of the participants graphically recorded the training throughout the five days. He gifted us with a booklet of his drawings at the end of the course. Seeing my training reflected back in his drawings was such a moving experience.
An example of the work of the Democratic Institute is the Educational Pioneer Program for a Shared Society in West and East Jerusalem is available online.
When I think about how the IAP2 training will be used by the staff of the Democratic Institute to work towards meaningful societal change in Israel, it makes my heart sing.