Below is the Motion on Notice I have lodged for the Lane Cove Council Ordinary Meeting on Monday 17th August:
This report is prepared in support of a Motion on Notice that seeks to improve certain aspects of Council’s Community Engagement Policy. The Motion on Notice seeks to improve the way information is presented to Council including the presentation of pre-consultation or post-consultation reports. The wider use of official social media channels to gather feedback from our local community when community consultation is taking place is also proposed.
Lane Cove Council’s Community Engagement Policy in its current version was approved and commenced in July 2017. Council’s current Community Engagement Policy prescribes the following:
- Guiding Principles as to why and how community engagement is to take place.
- When community engagement is to take place.
- Identification of Stakeholders and target audiences for Councils community engagement activities.
- Levels of engagement based upon the subject matter.
- Methods of engagement.
Presentation of Reports to Council
The current Community Engagement Policy does not provide guidance on presenting pre-consultation or post-consultation reports to Council. The suggestions made in (1) and (2) of the below Motion on Notice intend to achieve a consistency of information in all reports that are presented to Council as part of the Community Engagement Policy.
Role of Social media
Since 2017, Council has established its own official social media channels (e.g. Facebook) as another means to reach out to the local community for information sharing and engagement purposes.
Council’s current Community Engagement Policy permits on-line methods of delivery such as websites, emails, Facebook, Twitter and blogs as a ‘method of engagement’ for when a community consultation takes place.
Council has not yet devised a policy on how feedback gathered via Councils official social media channels can be included in a post-consultation report following community consultation activities.
Research from Roy Morgan (Most recent data I could find from a reputable source) shows a very high usage of social media channels by Australians across all generations. Therefore, it would be appropriate for Council to consider how the use of its official social media channels can be included for gathering feedback from our local community when community consultation is taking place.
Idea: using a graphic to explain the consultation process
Reading recent feedback on various Council consultations, I have identified some consistent comments along the lines of:
- “Why were we not informed of this earlier?”
- “Why is Council only making this public now?”
- “The decision has already been made – this is tokenistic”
My interpretation of these comments is the context in which the consultation is taking place per the Community Engagement Policy is not fully understood.
Below are some examples of the kind of graphic Council could develop and include in the Community Engagement Plan to explain the context in which a consultation is taking place.
Example 1: Playground Upgrade
Example 2: Major Capital Project