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ThinkPlace designers Cybelle Ledez and Wai Ko on Norfolk Island

A deep dive: Engaging with community on Norfolk Island

They say you should always fish where the fish are. And when you’re aiming for meaningful, authentic community engagement the same idea holds. Maybe even literally. That’s why ThinkPlace designers Cybelle Ledez and Wai Ko donned their mask and flippers recently to hit the water at beautiful Norfolk island for a snorkel with a local young entrepreneur.
Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities,
Community engagement and co-design
Project Team
Cybelle Ledez's profile'
Michael Cohen's profile'
Wai Ko's profile'
stakeholder engagement
ThinkPlace designers Cybelle Lezez and Wai Ko meet Norfolk Island Mayor Robin Adams

Cybelle, Wai and Michael Cohen have been on Norfolk Island talking with the community about how to improve engagement between the Commonwealth Government and the island community.

We are committed to creating new pathways to make sure the voice of Norfolk Islanders is heard. And that means an approach to engagement that moves beyond meetings and surveys. It means going out and talking to people in the flow of their everyday life.

We’ve been running drop-in sessions, face to face interviews, focus groups and more informal methods of engagement. In a hectic first week our designers have traversed the island. They’ve appeared multiple times on Island radio, attended a local yoga class and run pop-up stalls at the supermarket, post office and services hub NI Connect.

They’ve listened to views at a Parent’s Club meeting at the school, dropped in on the drop-in centre, met with community leaders including Mayor Robin Adams and plenty more.

In short, if you live on Norfolk Island we want to know what you think and we are prepared to go wherever it takes to find out. Even underwater.

“I’ve been so inspired by the passion and commitment of the community about their way of life and importance of taking care of their heritage, culture, family and environment,” Ledez says of the project so far.

“We are so grateful for the active participation and for so many people sharing their views with us’.”

Already we have learned this community and its people are industrious, innovative and resourceful. They are justifiably proud of their culture and what they’ve achieved and it has been so inspiring to hear those stories.

And we are just getting started. We’ll be back on the Island again soon for a second round and we are keen for people to engage with us digitally too. If you want to know where our researchers will be next you can contact them or leave your feedback at:  

ni-yoursay [at]


About this project

The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, together with ThinkPlace, is keen to build stronger relationships with Norfolk Island Community members.

ThinkPlace is assisting the Department to progress its relationship with the community of Norfolk Island in a positive way. We have been asked to help co-design a Community Engagement Framework with the Norfolk Island community. The intent of the framework is to provide the Department with a clear understanding of how best to engage the Norfolk Island community in a respectful and culturally appropriate way.


What is Co-design?

This is not a consultation process. We have not designed something and are asking community members to ‘rubber stamp’ it. The process of designing the framework is something we will do together. Your constructive, considered input will matter and will contribute to the resulting framework.


What is ThinkPlace?

ThinkPlace is a global design network that aims to create positive change and public good in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We have carried out many projects that involve meaningfully engaging communities, including indigenous peoples in Victoria and Northern California, local government areas in New South Wales, leading community engagement for the National  Disability Insurance Scheme and supporting Maori-led conversations on land reform in New Zealand.








“I’ve been so inspired by the passion and commitment of the community about their way of life and importance of taking care of their heritage, culture, family and environment,”

Cybelle Ledez