Engaging with the community and seeking feedback on issues, projects and long-term planning is a vital and legislated part of how councils operate in NSW.
Committed to improving the frequency of engagement and the ways that we work with the community, Kempsey Shire Council uses a variety of methods to seek feedback from the community which are aligned with the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) spectrum.
Depending on the type of decision and level of influence the community can have according to legislation, financial or environmental constraints, helps determine the level of engagement along the five steps of the spectrum which are Inform, Consult, Involve, Collaborate and Empower.
In just the last 12 months, community feedback has been collected via workshops, face to face meetings, information stalls at markets and community events, and through formal public submissions.
For some projects the engagement process may take several months and involve specific stakeholders working with Council to understand the issues before the feedback is invited from the broader community. The work of the Kempsey Airport Reference Group (KARG) on the Airport documents currently on public exhibition is an example of this stakeholder-specific engagement process.
Online engagement has also become increasingly important and Council has created a dedicated website, Your Say Macleay, to allow people to have a say on current projects at their convenience.
The site includes a range of tools such as online surveys, idea spaces, mapping and voting options. Projects can include a library of reference documents and a timeline to show where the decision-making process is up to.
The software gives Council the ability to see how many people are looking at certain issues, generate statistics and keep in touch with people who register to ensure they know when there’s a new project to comment on. To register, visit: http://yoursay.macleay.nsw.gov.au.
Other digital platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are used to keep the community informed about projects and events and link them to the Council website or Your Say Macleay site for engagement purposes.