Australian rural industries are collaborating to enhance trust in rural industries, by developing an aligned approach to proactive, transparent, long term engagement with the community via a three-year research program, with the first year’s results just released.
Key take-outs include that trust in rural industries is dependent on three drivers: environmental responsibility, responsiveness to community concerns and the importance of products produced by rural industries. The research also uncovered a number of topics that large sections of the community are uncertain about, most of which relate to two of the key drivers of trust – environmental responsibility and responsiveness. There is an opportunity to address this uncertainty through community engagement. Highlighting the connectedness of the sector, the research showed that overwhelmingly, environmental responsibility is a shared responsibility across all rural industries.
Dr Ian Taylor, Executive Director of Cotton Research and Development Corporation, a partner in the project said the community also highly values the food and fibre produced by rural industries.
“The community sees rural industries as stewards of the land and sea, and expects us to use resources responsibly and sustainably; the community wants to know it is being heard and understood by rural industries, and seeks ongoing reassurance that their concerns are being addressed.
“This is something we are already very familiar with in the cotton industry. The industry has always been innovative and shown strong environmental stewardship – but there is an ongoing need to engage the community in the great work that is happening right across our industry.”
The Community Trust in Rural Industries Program is a partnership involving ten Rural Research and Development Corporations , the National Farmers’ Federation and the NSW Department of Primary Industries. This timely capacity building initiative is designed to drive impactful, cohesive and consistent responses to the cross-sector community trust challenge.
David Nation, Managing Director of Dairy Australia said the project enables rural industries to work together to enhance community trust.
“There is opportunity for rural industries to be proactive, work together to build on strong trust and acceptance that exists, as well as stay ahead of community expectations.
“We also know that trust is shared, and a lack of trust affects all industries together so collaboration between rural industries is vital.”
According to the Program’s lead researcher, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Voconiq (a CSIRO spin-out company), Dr Kieren Moffat, trust is crucial for industry and business because it translates community expectations and experience into acceptance.
“There are big implications for any industry, sector or individual business when the community questions it or its practices. Trust in an industry builds acceptance for an industry and helps manage this risk. It’s what enables an organisation or industry to be given the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong, it provides a license for innovation and flexibility to experiment, and a general freedom to operate,” said Dr Moffat.