The Community Trust in Rural Industries Program

The Community Trust in Rural Industries Program is a collaborative partnership* involving 11 Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) to build the capacity of food and fibre industries to productively engage with the community.

The trust landscape has shifted significantly in recent times. No business sector can rely solely on their financial contribution to the economy, job creation, innovative technologies or strong values as a benchmark for best practice. Increasingly, the public are influencing benchmarks for best practice. Unless industries can effectively engage with the public on issues and values important to them, in a transparent and consistent manner, then community trust will be compromised and so will the ability to do business effectively.

2022 Year Three Report

2021 Year Two Report

2020 Year One Report

 

What is community trust?

Community trust relates to the nature of the relationship between industries and the social context in which they operate. Decreasing trust can lead to reduced industry productivity, profitability, and sustainability resulting from increased regulation, limited market access, and disincentives to invest in infrastructure, among other consequences.

“A farmer’s freedom to operate is enabled by an industry’s social licence, defined as the privilege of operating with minimal formalised restrictions based on maintaining community trust.”

“Building trust isn’t just giving consumers more science, more research or more information…. Research shows it’s about demonstrating that you share their values when it comes to topics they care about most – safe food, quality nutrition, outstanding animal care and environmental stewardship.”

How is the Program addressing community trust?

The Program is a capacity building initiative to drive a productive and cohesive response to changes in cross-sector community trust.

From 2020 – 2022, community research involving almost 20,000 Australians, has been undertaken by VoconiQ (powered by CSIRO) to provide insights on cross-sector issues and best practice approaches. Ongoing engagement around the key areas of concern that drive community trust in Australia’s rural industries has delivered research outputs that provide practical insights for food and fibre industries developing their own strategies.

What is this Program delivering?

  • An analysis of the full spectrum of underlying values driving community attitudes and trust towards food and fibre production
  • Development of capability across industries to monitor, anticipate and respond to shifts in the levels of trust the community has in Australia’s rural industries
  • A common language and collective national narrative across industry sectors around the community trust challenge
  • Identification of common best practice approaches, strategies and interventions for building, rebuilding and maintaining community trust.

What does this mean for rural industries?

  • As the challenge of community trust grows, industries can be reassured they are equipped with the latest data and insights to inform strategic planning and decision making.
  • There will be consistent messaging on the challenge of community trust across rural industries. Industries are working collaboratively to present a unified response to critical shared issues, in response to community concerns. One industry’s response to trust impacts another. The Program is delivering a consistent approach and baseline of information that is key to achieving step-change in the way the community perceives rural industries.
  • Industries can track key areas of focus and shifts in community sentiment over a three-year period and facilitate a deeper dive into issues of particular concern to their sector.

Timeframe for delivery

In Years Two and Three, the Program is informing and examining industry activities designed to consolidate and build community trust through a series of industry-specific focal studies.

In a first for the sector, individual industries have volunteered to examine issues critical to their operations that also present community trust challenges. They will uncover the community’s concerns around the specific issue and their industry and introduce interventions in response to this. This creates a unique opportunity for the broader rural sector (agriculture, fisheries and forestry) to learn from individual industries.

The work is also considering how to support industries to address some of their toughest challenges in novel ways. Industry feedback following the Year One research showed that some industries find it difficult to know what action to take when a challenging issue arises. In Year Two, different approaches were tested with community members to understand which are most aligned with community values and expectations. The results give industry decision makers the confidence that when a challenging issue arises, they have the evidence-based options for their responses.

There is scope for a formalised collective sector goal to collaboratively and proactively manage community engagement around challenging issues that affect community trust across industries, how to present a unified external face on these issues, and the development of internal mechanisms to manage industry-specific issues as they arise.

Contact

Toni Nugent
Project Manager, Seftons
02 6766 5222
toni.nugent@seftons.com.au 

* The Program is a jointly funded initiative of AgriFutures Australia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork Limited, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Australia, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Hort Innovation, Sugar Research Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation, LiveCorp, Meat and Livestock Australia and the NSW Department of Primary Industries. National Farmers’ Federation is also a project partner and AgriFutures Australia is the managing agent.

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Related Resources

Community Trust in Australia's Rural Industries: Year 3 national survey 2022

The Community Trust in Rural Industries project is a program of collaborative research to understand the nature of the relationship between Australia’s rural industries and the Australian community. Importantly, this three-year research program demonstrates a commitment by Australia’s rural industries to engage directly with the community to guide industry activities and inform the thinking of their members.

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Fishers, farmers and foresters trusted by the community

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Community Trust in Rural Industries: Australian Eggs case study

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Community Trust in Australia's Rural Industries: Year 2 national survey 2021

The Community Trust in Rural Industries project is a program of collaborative research to understand the nature of the relationship between Australia’s rural industries and the Australian community. Importantly, this three-year research program demonstrates a commitment by Australia’s rural industries to engage directly with the community to guide industry activities and inform the thinking of their members.

Download

Community Trust in Australia's Rural Industries: Year two Findings – August 2021

A summary of findings from the second year of the Community Trust in Australia's Rural Industries project.

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Community Trust in Australia's Rural Industries: Year 1 national survey 2020

The Community Trust in Rural Industries project is a program of collaborative research to understand the nature of the relationship between Australia’s rural industries and the Australian community. Importantly, this three-year research program demonstrates a commitment by Australia’s rural industries to engage directly with the community to guide industry activities and inform the thinking of their members.

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