Thought Leaders Series: Community engagement video

Hub Leader Prof Veena and Hub Initiatives Leader Prof Matthew Kearnes feature in this video webinar hosted by Engineers Australia about community engagement for projects.

This free webinar about community engagement is part of EA's "Thought Leadership Series" of regular thought leadership opportunities, ensuring attendees are across the latest industry trends, technologies, advancements and learnings.

Pre-event information

Hosted by EA, it says the "panel of experts will share their experiences with what they have found to cultivate positive conversations, tapping into the community voice and knowledge bank, to interpret current thinking into a constructive dynamic so everyone can benefit."

Event webpage and registration

Event hosts say:

About the event

Have you found yourself responsible for running a public consultation exercise?

The role of an engineer has grown into an all-encompassing profession.  The scope of expectations in the industry is continually expanding, with a hefty set of expectations on our practicing engineers to deliver on every aspect of a project including design, budget, ethics and work safe practices just to name a few.  But what about community engagement? 

Engineers have found themselves in a room, on occasion, facing contention and hostility.  Without training in this area, it can be a fraught experience. How can you work with the vast dynamics in a room of differing opinions to engage and involve the community knowledge to create a more positive dialogue? 

Our panel of experts will share their experiences with what they have found to cultivate positive conversations, tapping into the community voice and knowledge bank, so we can interpret current thinking into a constructive dynamic so everyone can benefit.  

Key messages:

  • Community Engagement is a vital process for policy, planning and public service.
  • Community Engagement is not just a consultation or branding exercise, it’s an opportunity to tap into the community knowledge bank, understand the diverse values at play and interpret current thinking.
  • To rebuild community engagement, we need to hear the community voice and frame these into positive discussions.

Who should attend

This webinar is relevant for all engineers working in any field or discipline.

You do not need to be an Engineers Australia member to attend.


Matthew Kearnes

Matthew Kearnes, Deputy Head of School (Research), UNSW

Matthew Kearnes is a Professor of Environment and Society, and Deputy Head of School (Research) in the School of Humanities and Languages at UNSW.  He is the current president of the Geographical Society of NSW.

Matthew completed his BSc (honours) in Human Geography at Macquarie University and a PhD at the University of Newcastle. Before arriving at UNSW, he held post-doctoral positions at the Department of Geography at the Open University and the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. MathewI also held a Research Council’s UK Academic Fellowship at the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Department of Geography, Durham University (2007-2011).

Professor Kearnes’s research explores the societal dimensions of, and public engagement with, climatic change, bio-nanotechnology, geoengineering and contemporary water treatment and supply. He has published widely on the ways in which the development of novel and emerging technologies is entangled with profound social, ethical and normative questions.

Scott Whitaker

Scott Whitaker, Regional Director (North Coast Region), Transport and Main Roads

Scott is the North Coast’s Regional Director for Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and leads a diverse team of more than 300 people. North Coast Region is currently focused on delivering the largest ever transport infrastructure program for the region with over $2.9 billion in capital and maintenance works programmed over the next four years. While delivering this infrastructure program the region is also tackling the challenge of planning and managing the unprecedented growth currently experienced in both the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay areas. 

Scott has a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with a career spanning over 20 years. Scott has spent most of his career in TMR in varying engineering and leadership roles with time spent in the private industry as a business owner involved in the mining and construction sector.

Lisa Maro

Lisa Maro, Renewable Energy Industry Adviser, Industry Capability Network

Lisa Maro recently joined ICN Victoria as Renewable Energy Industry Adviser helping to maximise local content in the huge number of renewable projects that our state will need to invest in over the coming decades.

She is based in Melbourne and will assist with some metro-based strategic construction projects.

Lisa comes to ICN Victoria from the power industry, having worked in national sales roles for 26 years selling locally manufactured substation products such as HV transformers, switchgear, and protection devices across many sectors, including the renewables industry. She has an electrical engineering background and has also completed an MBA. She most recently held the position of Business Development Manager at Wilson Transformers and has worked closely with ICN in this role, using and being a strong supporter of our services.

 Kee Li

Kee Li, Community Engagement Manager, Regional Programs, Sydney Water

Kee leads the regional engagement team at Sydney Water which supports community and stakeholder engagement for over 400 infrastructure projects per year, from planning to design, delivery and facility maintenance.

Kee has 18 years of experience in both the public and private sectors across energy, utilities, transport and government building social licence, community trust and a more inclusive decision-making process.

Kee holds a Master of International Law and Public Policy from Macquarie University, a Bachelor of Social Science, and is a member of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2).


Veena Sahajwalla

Veena Sahajwalla, Director of Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT@UNSW), UNSW

Professor Veena Sahajwalla is the director of the SMaRT Centre (Sustainable Materials Research & Technology at the University of NSW). She is an internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer, and inventor revolutionising recycling science. Well known for her contributions in building a waste-free economy, innovating microfactories and inventing ‘green steel’, an alternative to using coal in the steel production industry. For many years Veena was a judge on the ABC TV show The New Inventors and more recently she was featured in the ABC’s Australian Story and named the 2022 NSW Australian of the YearProfessor Veena was named the 2022 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes winner for the Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) Clunies Ross Innovation Award.

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