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People profile: Kylie Cochrane

Kylie Cochrane

Kylie has extensive experience in managing challenging stakeholder and community engagement for key rail, road and water infrastructure projects, including Northern Sydney Freight Corridor, Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade, Sydney’s Desalination Project and the National Broadband Network pilot.

She understands the unique pressures and priorities of government and has worked as a communication/ engagement adviser under three New South Wales (NSW) Premiers, several NSW government ministers and for many NSW Government departments and agencies, including Transport for NSW and Sydney Water.

Kylie was recently appointed to the Australasian Board of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2). She is also a Board member of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), and she is the engagement representative on the NSW Government Independent Water Advisory Panel.

Comfortable managing issues, crises and the media, Kylie has a record of success and has won several coveted communication awards.

How do you involve delivery teams from Aurecon and other delivery partners in stakeholder engagement?

You need to do this at different stages throughout the process, to ensure everyone is aware of their stakeholder engagement responsibilities. Communications should be integrated into the overall operations from the construction management plan to the daily tool box talks.

Specialised communications teams can manage daily communications and issues, but it’s often the little avoidable things that annoy communities - parking across driveways, making excessive noise before or after a shift, etc. It is all about being a good neighbor - from legacy contributions to a community to being considerate of the existing community.

What has been your most enjoyable community / stakeholder engagement project to date?

I have really enjoyed the Woolgoolga to Ballina planning alliance. This is the biggest planning alliance in NSW, to date. We are looking after the environmental phase of the 155-km Pacific Highway upgrade.

I have enjoyed this project because the client is working with us in a genuine partnership. Together, we identify and resolve the issues and concerns of our communities and stakeholders. We have also approached this project from a whole of programme perspective rather than just looking at the current phase.

We have gone from dealing with approximately 250 directly impacted residents to almost 6 000 interested residents and other stakeholders. This has allowed us to build relationships that RMS can continue into the future.

What are the top three priority actions when commencing stakeholder engagement on a major infrastructure project?

  1. Research and identify the communities and other stakeholders. Find out who they are and how they like to be communicated with.

  2. Identify likely issues and concerns and try to mitigate or minimise them before they become an issue. Designing out issues and flexibility of construction times, methods and equipment can resolve many issues before they become a problem.

  3. Instill an engagement focus and understanding into the project team.

What are the risks of inadequate engagement and what are the warning signs that this is happening?

Two words - Delays and costs! Two things we always want to avoid.


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