Engage Plan Create

Our approach to working with individuals, agencies and communities is based on three stages…



Firstly, it’s important to note that these “steps” are not just a linear process – engagement, planning and creating are continuous processes in any community or cultural project.

However, our first stage of any work is to engage with the community to better understand how project needs are informed by the local context such as the community history, local diversity, existing skills and resources and by the environment itself.

By engaging early to frame how the work can be designed and delivered we maximise the way community members and agencies participate in, connect with and support the work.

We use creative leading practice engagement techniques to encourage the widest possible diversity of people to be involved. Building inclusive work depends on the project objectives, our clients willingness to include a diverse range of people and the capacity of the community.

We use models such as the IAP2’s Participation Spectrum, Capire’s Engagement Triangle, and of course Sherry Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation to clarify with the people we work with what level of public involvement is desirable to produce the most inclusive outcomes for the project. 

Whether it’s through helping us frame the possibilities of what the project can achieve, guiding the process, creating the outcomes or celebrating them, community participation is vital to our work.



Once we have a good understanding of both the project brief and the community to work with, detailed project planning takes place. This includes conducting research so we can take into account learnings from previous projects.

This enables us to be directed by the outcomes of similar work that has taken place and to build on the community’s capacity, interests and needs. It also allows us to design effective  and creative ways for people to participate in the project and share in the outcomes we are collectively aiming to achieve.

Effective planning and the sharing of this plan with the community, with an inbuilt flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, allows people to take ownership of particular elements of the project or to collaborate in its overall delivery.

We specialise in collaborative and inclusive approaches to project, community, social and strategic planning.



Once there is clarity on project goals, how we are going to achieve them, who is going to be involved and how, it’s time to create.

We design our work to incorporate multiple ways for people to be involved by valuing the way they participate as much as the final things that we create together.

An important part of the creative process is showcasing not only the project’s outcomes but also the people involved, their skills, talents and connections, and the place the work is being conducted, including the local environment, both built and natural.

We use events, film, photography, social media, website design and much more to promote the projects we work on and tailor how this happens with clients and the communities we work with.

Delivered through nine service themes…

Community Planning

We work with government planning agencies to design creative engagement programs that provide opportunities for all members of a community to effectively participate in local planning and decision making. Collectively our group has extensive experience in designing and facilitating leading practice, award winning engagement strategies and collaborative, inclusive governance approaches that empower community organisations, include local facilitators wherever possible and which aim to include a diversity of voices from all sections of the community, both mainstream and marginalised. We use creative engagement approaches to maximise the way people contribute to a collective vision and strategy to achieve it for their local area. 




Place Mapping

We use multimedia, social research and creative public space engagement to share people’s stories about the places they live and visit. From these stories of public space use and access, we draw out the ‘story within the story’ that describe people’s deeper connections to places including the location’s culture, history and ideas for the future. As planners and engagement specialists, we have specialised in public space engagement and planning. This gives us an insight into the need to design place mapping tools, such as multimedia processes or drawing or live storytelling, to suit the capacity and interests of the community and the needs associated with activating and managing public spaces. This includes the way we present and share the stories we capture, whether that is through online platforms or live events or installations. We work with a number of social media and online platforms and can also custom design a project website or embed outcomes in your own existing website. 

Participatory community events

We love working collaboratively with communities to design, deliver and evaluate festivals and events that celebrate local cultural identities and also provide opportunities to engage.

We’ve produced events all over Australia and in Sri Lanka and specialise in coordinating and supporting community coordination groups (including young people) to strengthen local capacity to deliver these events in the future.

We also specialise in ensuring that these events appropriately represent a community’s diversity and are accessible for all people.

Web, Graphic & Multimedia Promotions

Karen Batten and Ferment Collaborate have collaborated together for over 8 years on creative website and graphic design and to facilitate inclusive ways of working with communities in how these materials are designed and activated.

Depending on your needs, we can work with you to determine your specific branding and design needs, involving you in the creative process, and even developing training and mentoring opportunities associated with design process, software use and branding development.

We specialise in web design, including Wordpress and CSS, design of promotional materials like flyers, posters, bookmarks and postcards and we also produce promotional film and animation products. 


Film & Multimedia

We undestand the power of multimedia as a way to engage with people and share their stories, from documentary making to vox pops to short film making to creative music videos with young people.

We specialise in working with communities to firstly research and engage the local context so we can better understand how to make culturally appropriate media and also how best to involve people and capture places.

We also love to support local people interested in growing their multimedia skills and have experience in training, mentoring and supporting the creation of local structures to support people to continue with their passion beyond our involvement. Check out our Vimeo channel and also what we have to Showcase on this website.

Enterprise Support

We believe in supporting the creation and ongoing viability and connectedness of local enterprise in a community.

We’ve worked with communities to establish enterprise support networks, not for profit enterprise and social collectives as well as supporting individuals to realise their personal enterprise dreams.

We can provide specific enterprise design advice, business management support, training and capacity development, marketing and promotion strategies and tools and can also work with people to develop collaborative ways to create and share their products within and beyond a community. 

Skill Sharing Events

We all have skills to share.

While there is certainly a place for specialists to train others, we also believe in the power of individuals training and sharing their skills with each other.

These skill share events are decentralised approaches to connecting people and creating a space where all skills can be recognised and appreciated.

We’ve delivered many skill share events in Australia and Sri Lanka that have encouraged and empowered participants to recognise their own and others skills.

These events typically use traditional or adapted Open Space Technology processes and the opportunity for all partcipants to deliver discussions or workshops that other participants can attend.

Examples of our work include the Venesa Matram Symposium and Rhizome: The September Edition. Contact us to talk about how we can support you to produce your own skill share event.

Social Research

We believe that social research that is conducted well increases opportunities for community projects, planning processes and engagement to take place in a more participatory, effective and useful way.

We also feel that good research takes place with the active participation of the community.

Whether through establishing the research process and frameworks or through delivery, involvement increases the way we can incorporate informal knowledge, local networks, place based knowledge and the way the research outcomes are adopted and used within the community.

We specialise in use of Participatory Action Research process that informs community planning engagement and structure design and have extensive experience in online and print literature reviews,  qualitative and quantitative analysis including ABS and other specific data sets,  planning-related research,  arts,  cultural and community development data research and the use of multimedia and web platforms to conduct and showcase research outcomes.

Creative Engagement

Steph Vajda has been delivering leading practice award winning community engagement for Councils, State Government, community organisations and developers since 2002.

Our approach is based on advocating for deep community involvement in the process of designing and conducting engagement so that local voices are present in the final outcome, whether that’s a strategic planning framework, land use planning, a social or cultural policy or plan, a development application, transport design or other use of engagement process.

We prefer facilitating small group discussions, lead by trained (preferably local) facilitators, as a way of promoting dialogue as a vital part of decision making and have experience in managing World Cafe, Charettes, focus groups and creative place-based public space engagement processes using arts and cultural processes.

We also use the SpeakOut as an accessible way of presenting information back to community after initial engagement activities have taken place. Our experience includes considerable experience engaging with specialised groups such as CALD communities, young people, people with a disability and Indigenous people.