Community engagement has been a key element of our inquiry process and the Muslim Community Reference Group has been a critical component of that. When we decided on the need for a Muslim Community Reference Group we found there was little guidance available on how to engage with Muslim communities.
We used the International Association for Public Participation IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum and related guidance as a starting point, to ensure that our engagement with the Muslim Community Reference Group was effective and relevant. We were keen to ensure that we were working with the Muslim Community Reference Group and that it felt like a partnership rather than a hierarchy.
We were learning as we went, which meant taking an agile approach and being willing to change the way we were doing something, even during hui. We hope that our intention to engage in a safe, inclusive and collaborate way was clear, even when we did not get it right.
We have developed this document and a Guide for Engaging with Muslim Communities to provide some insights for Public sector agencies to consider when setting up similar community reference groups or engaging with Muslim communities in the future. We see this publication as adding to the discussion of community engagement practices and approaches. It does not purport to be comprehensive or definitive. Community engagement approaches must be flexible and able to evolve with the context of the communities involved.