Strategy 2: Consult

Goal

To obtain community input on strategic plans, directions, issues, priorities and projects.

Council will ensure that Community consultation takes place around:

  • the 10 year Community Strategic Plan (MOSPLAN)
  • the development of new Council policies, strategies and service plans
  • the review and evaluation of existing Council policies, strategies and service plans
  • the planning and development of new services and infrastructure
  • the ongoing provision, management and review of Council services, and infrastructure
  • the setting of priorities for Council in relation to social and strategic planning, services and infrastructure, and
  • on issues which impact on and or are of concern to the community or to any group within the community, including:
    • broad community issues, eg. community safety;
    • specific issues that impact on a particular group, eg. older people, business community;
    • matters that affect people in a particular street, neighbourhood or shopping centre, eg. traffic management;
    • matters that affect a particular site, eg. change in land use.

Promise to the Community

We will listen to you, consider your ideas and keep you informed about what input was received, an analysis of this input and the final decision/s reached following report to Council.

Methodology

How

Consultation mechanisms will be chosen that will not only take account of the primary stakeholders but also be accessible to the broad community. Where appropriate, reports to Council will state the methods of consultation to be used with subsequent reports to Council including an evaluation of the efficacy of the consultation processes. The purpose of each consultation process will be conveyed clearly. This will include:

  • what the consultation is to achieve
  • background information as appropriate, and
  • the role of Council and the community

Community consultation techniques will vary depending on who is being consulted and the nature and complexity of the issue that Council is consulting about. Available resources will also determine the type of consultation techniques that can be utilised ie. the timeframe available for consultation, the funds available, the staffing resource capacity etc.

A range of consultation techniques will be utilised to ensure greater participation levels. These will include Community Conversations, surveys, focus groups, consultative workshops, shopfronts/markets/Fair Days and on-line feedback.

Community Conversations

Council has conducted Community Conversations on a range of subjects over many years. This method of consultation is very popular and should continue. Attendances can range from 200 or more for issues such as the Skate Park to 50 or so for the Caring for Carers conversation. A conversation held with the business community attracted 60 participants. Residents come together at round tables in a relaxed environment over refreshments and discuss the issue/s at hand. They agree on the agenda at the beginning of the Community Conversation and each person’s ideas are recorded during the Conversation. The ideas from each table are fed back to all at the end of the Conversation. The ideas are collated and analysed and the outcomes are distributed to attendees and to Councillors. Council has the benefit of listening to and learning about what people think and then can make decisions taking all ideas into account. All participants are kept informed.

In relation to the Community Strategic Plan (MOSPLAN), Community Conversations will be conducted under the four themes:

  • Social
  • Natural and Built Environment
  • Local and Regional Economy, and
  • Governance.

The MOSPLAN Community Conversations are an opportunity for Councillors and staff to listen to the community and to take ideas on board for discussion at the follow-up workshop to inform the 10 year Community Strategic Plan and to set Council’s priorities.

Surveys/Questionnaires

Council has used consultants to conduct major community surveys by telephone approximately every three years. A range of subjects is covered and results benchmarked against other Councils. The next such survey is scheduled for
2009.

Several sections of Council conduct user and non-user surveys or questionnaires from time to time, eg. the Library, Meals on Wheels and Youth Services. Surveys are also conducted regarding particular projects, eg. the development of the Local Environment Plan and Plans of Management for Open Space.

All such surveys and questionnaires should continue.

Focus Groups

Attendances at Focus Groups are usually by invitation targeting specific groups with relevant experience of the subject matter, eg. Meals on Wheels users and volunteers to discuss food tender, architects practising in Mosman to discuss the Residential Development Control Plan.

Randomly selected Focus Groups may also be convened from time to time to allow a wider perspective on specific issues.

Focus Groups should continue to be used in such instances.

Interviews

From time to time, for example in the development of the Social Plan or a specific service, interviews are conducted including in the homes of some residents, such as the frail aged, the house bound, carers etc; and occasionally at schools or at the Youth Development Centre with students with special issues or needs.

Interviews should continue to be used in such instances.

Consultative Workshops

Consultative Workshops are open to the community with the aim of briefing interested residents on specific projects and to get their feedback prior to the preparation of plans such as the Local Environment Plan.

Consultative workshops should continue to be used in such instances.

Shopfronts/Markets/Fair Days

Shopfronts improve participation by taking the Council to the people usually in busy areas such as the shopping centres and other venues such as the Library, market, festival and other fair days.

The community can drop in at their convenience and display materials are provided along with staff to answer questions. Shopfronts have a relaxed atmosphere and can enable kitchen table style discussions.

On-line comment

Enhance on-line consultation by providing additional channels for community response; for example, using video, discussion forums or comments tagged by users in their own web spaces and programmatically picked up by Council.

Build consultation-specific websites when appropriate and make consultations listed on Council’s website more convenient to users by incorporating survey or comment forms directly in the web page.

Participate in and build social networks to allow Council to receive community input from those communities.

Provide direct and timely response to comments on-line and publish the results of consultations wherever possible.

Maintain a program of ‘active listening’ or ‘continuous consultation’ by monitoring mentions of Mosman on the internet and feeding these conversations to the relevant Council officers.

Commit to the use of clear, jargon-free language.

When

Council will ensure that the community is consulted on issues which impact on and or are of concern to the community or to any group within the community in a timely manner to allow adequate community comment to occur and be analysed in order to inform decision making processes.

In 2009 the MOSPLAN Community Conversations will be scheduled for February and October and in subsequent years will be held each October to allow more time for consideration of objectives and priorities and associated financial implications. There will be four Community Conversations covering two themes twice, viz:

  • Social and Local & Regional Economy
  • Governance and Natural & Built Environment

Who

All groups/persons who are impacted will be consulted. Stakeholders will vary according to the issue, but could include residents, ratepayers, businesses, volunteers, those who visit or work in the municipality, other service providers/agencies, community groups, other levels of government, peak bodies, etc. It could also include particular groups within the community, eg. older people, families, children, youth, different ethnic groups, business people, people with a disability, etc.

In relation to the Community Strategic Plan (MOSPLAN), stakeholders include:

  • Interested residents
  • Volunteers
  • Councillors
  • Staff
  • All community organisations
  • Schools
  • All demographic target groups
  • Business community
  • SHOROC
  • Sydney Harbour Federation Trust
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Government organisations
  • Harbourside Local Area Command

Invitations will be sent to all of the above and the whole community will be invited through the media, the internet, flyers, posters and the like. A random group of residents will be invited through a mailout to a particular house number in every street in Mosman. This has proved to be a successful strategy over some years.

Evaluation

Evaluation process should include promotional techniques, who was consulted, numbers involved, method/s used, adequacy of timescale, information provided, feedback from participants including through surveys and on-line, and web visits and number of contributions; where appropriate this evaluation should be reported to the Council.

Published 2009 by Mosman Council under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Australia licence