Presentation: Public engagement & nuclear energy

Sharon Kelly our media and public relations specialist, presented on ‘Public engagement & nuclear energy’ at the CRC CARE national workshop during ‘Session 3: Risk and waste management’ on 16 June 2015. Click here to download Sharon’s presentation.

Abstract : Engaging with the public on nuclear energy

Australia takes it public very seriously. It listens to them and gives them a big voice in the decision making process.   Bringing nuclear energy to Australia is nothing new and it has been a stop start relationship for many years.  However the world is rapidly changing.  We are confronted day to day with climate change issues and the challenge to reduce carbon emissions and abolish coal – yet nuclear energy tilters on the edge of the talking table.  To influence public perception thought we must re-engage with the community, armed with the facts whilst facing the fears.

This talk explores five key requirements needed to successfully engage with the Australian public:

  • Be clear on the objective and have a crystal clear future vision.  Get the message across by providing the facts, describing the benefits, addressing the risks and providing a view of the alternative energies and where nuclear fits in.
  • Know your audience. We need to know what the public – not just the vocal informed and misinformed – perceive, but the regular Australians who switch on their electricity every day, yet may not idea understand all the economic, health and environmental effects it’s production has.
  • Know your history. Look at the past and the countries that have successfully brought nuclear energy into the power mix – supplying power, even to neighbours that are anti-nuclear because they need it.
  • Provide leadership. Look at who is delivering the message, their credibility and expertise and the supporting purse strings.
  • The public engagement and communications strategy. How to build confidence, address the fear, provide people with respected knowledge, engage with online and offline media, get face to face with community and politicians to commence the process to get a positive outcome.

The key messages must be kept simple – for those who can ultimately stop nuclear progress, or bring it on, is the public.

Background Information

Since the South Australian Royal Commission on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle is currently underway, and the recent 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, there is much discussion on the topic of nuclear in the news and media. Dr Kath Smith (one of our gems with a long history in nuclear), prepared a comparative report on the Fukushima Daiichi, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear accidents to provide some background for Sharon’s presentation. Read the quick 2 page summary of the accidents, a detailed 25 page report is available on request. Email for a copy of the full report.