• 27 November 2020, 9:00am to 27 November 2020, 5:00pm
City Flinders
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$480 (Main conference)

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre will host the inaugural Trust and Community Engagement: Courts, Tribunals and Commissions conference on 27 November in Melbourne, Australia.

Pre-conference events will be held on the afternoon and evening of 26 November.

About the conference

Declining trust in public institutions is increasingly a feature of the democratic landscape. Community engagement is advocated as a key strategy in rebuilding community confidence. ‘Engagement’, however, covers a wide array of approaches, often without articulating specific measurable outcomes. 

This timely conference will be an evidence-led strategic conversation about how we reinforce public trust and confidence in the legal system, especially the courts, tribunals, regulatory bodies and commissions.

Program details

The conference program will feature plenary and panel sessions, as well as specialist streams running concurrently.

Indicative conference sessions: 

  • A Matter of Trust: Is there a crisis of confidence? What's to be done?
  • Social Media and the Court of Public Opinion
  • Reaching the Whole Community
  • UX, CX and Data Analytics: Methods from other sectors 
  • Make Civics Great Again: Courts in civics and citizenship
  • Technology and Trust
  • Naming, Shaming and Prosecuting: Regulators and commissions
  • The Trust Pitch: Managing risk and reputation

The conference program will be updated progressively as speakers are confirmed. The final program will be released in September 2020. 

Information Exchange Gallery

The Information Exchange Gallery (IEG) expo will run throughout the conference, showcasing best-practice examples of, and resources created to promote, community engagement. Exhibitors will share their existing programs with an emphasis not only on the 'what' (nature and content of their programs), but also on the 'who' (target audience/publics), 'when' (timing/staging) and 'how' (methods/approaches).

Exhibitors will be invited to share the challenges and lessons of their programs. 

To register your organisation’s interest in exhibiting in the IEG, contact [email protected] 

Our framework of community engagement

Underpinning the conference is our framework for community engagement. It assumes four interrelated dimensions:

Infographic: The phrases 'foundational confidence in the rule of law', 'knowledge & awareness', 'capacity building & empowerment' and 'co-design & consultation' form a circle. The phrase 'public trust in law and legal institutions' is in the centre.

  1. Foundational confidence in the rule of law: A visceral and intuitive grasp of key concepts such as the separation of powers doctrine, natural justice, and an open and accountable justice system. A values-based grounding in civics education secures citizens’ commitment to the significance of the rule of law for civil society
  2. Knowledge and awareness of the different judicial and quasi-judicial bodies that exist, as well as of the rights, responsibilities and options available to all citizens.
  3. Capacity building and empowerment through relevant information resources and pathways, to enable citizens to confidently navigate, and make effective use of, entitlements afforded to citizens of a civil society.
  4. Co-design and consultation: Genuinely consulting with, and learning from, citizens to reshape services and institutions, and keeping them informed of the impact of the community’s contributions.

It is widely accepted that legal institutions serve, and must communicate with, diverse 'publics'. Beyond the 'who' question, the empirical challenge now is to identify the 'when' and the 'how' of meaningful and effective engagement.

Community engagement is a vital but resource-intensive endeavour. Establishing 'what works' is now our collective quest.

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Contact us

Tilly Junker
Legal Projects Officer
Sir Zelman Cowen Centre
Phone: 
+61 3 9919 5855