Confirmation Of Candidature - PHD BY RESEARCH

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Presenter:  Jane Munday

Date: Nov 09, 2017

Time: 10:30am to 11:30am

Contact person:  LEBA Research
T: 08 8946 6156

Location:  Northern Institute, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48 (Savanna Room)

“Objective truths or subjective realities? – Social and cultural impact assessment of development in Northern Australia”

The development of Northern Australia through major resource and infrastructure projects can deliver substantial social and economic benefits. Equally, it can have negative impacts on the social and cultural fabric of societies. As projects encroach on other values and land uses, they generate polarised debate, the need to earn community acceptance and pressures for earlier and deeper community engagement. This is fuelled by a ‘trust deficit’ in government and regulators and compounded by Aboriginal demands to control the pace and scale of development on their land.
Environmental impact assessment emerged in America in the 1970s as a way to predict and manage the environmental impacts of projects. It has evolved to incorporate subsidiary studies, such as social impact assessment. This research will critically examine the gaps between best practice frameworks and the actual practice of social impact assessment in Northern Australia. It will consider how Aboriginal aspirations, values and worldviews influence perspectives of what constitutes ‘effective’ impact assessment and the need for dedicated cultural assessments.
A mixed methods approach will include an audit of impact assessments in Northern Australia over the past 40 years, semi-structured interviews with key informants, selected case studies, and descriptions of models used in comparable jurisdictions such as Canada and New Zealand. Using grounded theory, the research will then explore in detail an emerging theme from the first stages of research.
This research was motivated by a passion to give people a greater voice in planning, assessing and managing development. It aims to improve the policy, practice, relevance and efficiency of social impact assessment, taking account of the unique context of the ‘develop the North’ agenda and the implications of Aboriginal peoples’ definitions of ‘sustainable development’. The research will make recommendations for models tailored to the Northern Australia context. It will address gaps in the literature, such as the concept of ‘regulatory’ or ‘cultural capture’: where it is suggested that the dominant, rationalist culture of the natural sciences may sideline the qualitative insights gained from social science methodologies.

Jane Munday has a background as a journalist and in senior government communication positions in Victoria and the Northern Territory (NT). She has lived and worked throughout the NT since 1994 with NT Police, the AustralAsia Railway and Department of the Chief Minister. For nearly 12 years she owned a strategic communication consultancy based in Darwin and Alice Springs. She specialises in community engagement and social impact assessment.
Jane’s qualifications cover journalism, psychology, public sector executive management, a Master of Business Administration (Marketing), community and stakeholder engagement and social impact assessment. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Churchill Fellow and a Fellow and former Northern Territory President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, so brings a multi-disciplinary perspective to this research.
Recent conference presentations include social licence to operate for major projects and communicating science.

Rolf Gerritsen (Principal)
Natasha Stacey