With a glowing track record in stakeholder relations and community engagement, Ai-Lin Chang is currently working to deliver improved rail networks to regional communities in Victoria. Passionate about making sure everyone gets a say in the future of their community, we picked her brain about community consultation, making sure diverse voices are heard on major projects, and the one treat she can’t go past at the Saturday morning markets.
As communications and engagement consultants our primary responsibility is ensuring that communities have a voice in infrastructure projects.
Right now I’m seconded to one of our clients full-time, so a lot of the work I do involves representing their interests on projects. The client is a regional rail operator in Victoria who currently has approximately $10 billion of major rail infrastructure projects happening. We work to ensure customers and internal stakeholders are represented in the planning and delivery of these initiatives.
Market Lane Coffee, without a doubt.
I live a five-minute walk from Whitten Oval, so Western Bulldogs – ride or die.
My whole life, 26 years.
South Melbourne Market on a sunny Saturday morning, with a $4 cheese and spinach borek in one hand and a coffee in the other, watching everyone live their best lives buying groceries, lazing in the sun, and eating tasty treats.
In my current role, I get to do things like running community information sessions, drafting works notices, and talking to other government departments about what works are coming up. I also spend a lot of my time going to design workshops to represent projects, as well as responding to and coordinating communications for any upcoming construction activities.
Whether we’re building a new water pipe for a growing residential community or picking out new play equipment that best suits the kids in the local area, we're always looking for new ways to integrate the community’s voice and drive better outcomes as a result.
My client’s main purpose is improving Victoria’s regional rail network, so the projects coming our way will be genuinely transformative for the communities serviced by the network.
Having a train service that regularly goes in and out of their town is sometimes the most reliable way for people in regional areas to access healthcare services and other important amenities. Having a high-performing, reliable and fast network is critical to uplifting the lives of those in regional communities, and connecting different regional communities to each other.
I think it's crucial to have a greater diversity of voices involved in our engagement processes. Typically speaking, the most vocal people are the ones who self-nominate to participate in those processes, so the challenge lies in giving opportunities to those who wouldn't usually get involved. This includes people from migrant backgrounds, people with disabilities, and people from minority backgrounds.
Getting that wide range of voices involved can only enhance and improve the outcomes of the projects we’re working on. You need a diverse range of opinions to know that the feedback you’re hearing and working off is genuinely representative of the communities you’re trying to serve.
Victoria is taking on incredibly ambitious and forward-thinking projects. These big initiatives carry a lot of risk, but to have a government who has the confidence to try and deliver visionary ideas, and a population that generally believe in its ability to do so is incredible.
Right now the amount of investment that’s going on in Victoria’s renewable energy sector is unprecedented, and it’s the only way forward in terms of creating a genuinely sustainable and cost-effective approach to power supply. It would be exciting to work on a renewables project, be it wind, solar, battery storage, etc.
I love that it doesn’t matter what your background is, what your age is, what demographics you belong to, as Victorians we believe that everyone is deserving of a chance. I think we’re one of the most progressive states in the country, and we value diversity. It’s great to live in a place that celebrates who people authentically are.
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