Being a small entity, with limited resourcing and a single base to our organisation, creates challenges to ensuring national coverage of our work and engaging with communities in rural, regional, and remote areas.
In addressing this we have made it a priority for the Commission to build consideration of rural, regional and, where possible, remote activity into our planning processes. These can vary from consultation and engagement events, conducting training and workshops, commissioned research, and Commissioner engagements.
This is our third year of monitoring and reporting on this priority.
In this reporting period, the Commission has had engagements in every state and territory. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, engagements ‘in person’ were not conducted after February 2020. Nonetheless, the commission continued to work Australia wide by virtual means. Figure 1 depicts ‘in person’ engagements which fell outside of a major capital city, between July 2019 and February 2020.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significant changes to our outreach strategies with the loss of the ability to travel to conduct face to face consultations and meetings. In March, we moved quickly to ensure the Commission could pivot to using virtual outreach strategies and had the tools to continue to conduct activities through digital engagement.
Our focus on this priority will continue with an emphasis on ensuring that the increased reliance on digital technologies does not impact negatively on the reach and access of vulnerable and marginalised in these areas.