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Engaging With the Community

Plans, services, strategies and policies are developed to serve the community, so engaging with you to make sure we understand what you think about them is an important part of the process. It's a chance for you to find your voice and make a difference.

What is community engagement?

Community engagement is any planned process that involves the community in problem solving, planning or decision-making and uses community input to assist in making decisions.  

Why is community engagement important to us?

We recognise that people likely to be affected by something the City does should have the right to be involved in the decision-making process. Our Stakeholder Engagement Policy identifies the City's clear commitment to engaging with the community to complement the decision making role of the Council.

How does the City of Melville Engage With the Community?

Our Stakeholder Engagement Strategy outlines the practical implementation of the Stakeholder Engagement Policy and its three main goals give direction on how we can engage with the community.

The three goals of the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy are:

  1. To increase levels of public participation in local governance in ways that complement the decision-making role of the Council through a range of opportunities for engagement
  2. To increase community understanding of the processes of local governance including the roles and responsibilities of citizens, the Executive and Council; and
  3. To increase elected member involvement in and promotion of stakeholder engagement processes for the purpose of good governance.

When engaging with the community the first step is to work out who is most likely to be affected by something the City does, how they might be affected and will their quality of life or well-being be impacted? The second step is to work out the purpose of the engagement, the why are we doing it. We can then think about the level of engagement for example:

  • Do we want to consult on a choice of options?
  • Do we want to involve people in telling us more about something?
  • Do we want to collaborate with people in working out preferred options or solutions to problems?
  • Do we want to empower the community to make final decisions or choices about something?

Whatever is decided, we always inform the community and make sure they community have access to enough information to be able to have their say.

We use a range of methods to engage with the people most affected including:

  • Online methods can include surveys, ideas walls, interactive maps, discussion forums and participatory budgeting.
  • In-person methods can include community reference groups, workshops and information sessions.

All our community engagement processes are supported by and signed off at the highest levels of the organisation.


Below are some of the questions we are frequently asked about Community Engagement.

How do you decide when to engage with the community?

There are many drivers for community engagement and a number of factors which influence the way we engage with the community. Community engagement will be carried out when:

  • Something the City is intending to do has an impact on the community
  • it is required by legislation such as the creation of a local law or planning scheme
How do you decide which methods to use?

There are a number of ways to carry out a community engagement process and the preferred methods are determined by the project, plan or strategy and its possible impact on the community. We identify which engagements require simple notification as opposed to in-depth community engagement using a social impact matrix.

How long are engagements open for community participation?

An engagement may include multiple methods to maximise opportunities for the community’s interactions.

  • Establishment of a Community Reference Group (CRG) will include sending out direct invitations to a random sample of people and inviting them to complete an Expression of Interest (2 weeks)
  • Serving on a CRG could include attending meetings for several consecutive weeks with the longest period of service being 8 weeks in duration and the shortest being 2 weeks.  

All online engagements such as online surveys, interactive maps etc are open for a minimum of two weeks. We find that most inputs from the community happen within the first 48 hours of an engagement opening.

How do you promote engagements?

There are many ways in which the opportunity to get involved in an engagement can be promoted including:

  • Via the Melville Talks page
  • Social media including Facebook and Instagram
  • Invitations sent via random sample to City of Melville residents, ratepayers, library and LeisureFit members
  • Letters  
  • Posters on public noticeboards
  • Advertorial in Melville Gazette
  • Information in the Melville Talks eNews and other City of Melville eNews
  • Signage if an engagement is for a specific location
  • Information in media releases  
Why do we send direct invitations for surveys via random sample?

If you want to consult with the community using a survey and have certainty about the results, you must have two things:

  1. A sample frame or list from which you draw the sample
  2. A sample size which is representative of the population you want to survey

Until recent times, market researchers could use the phone book as their sample frame, randomly selecting potential participants from the listings and would for example call every 10th person in the phone book until they reached the correct sample size for the required demographics.

Our sample frame

At the City of Melville, our sample frame is our customer service database which contains over 25,000 email addresses collected from people using one of our 200 produces and services. It includes ratepayers, registered dog/cat owners, Library and LeisureFit members, people who have a pool inspected or report graffiti to name a few.

We know that inviting people to participate via email is the most efficient and cost effective way to get the best results as opposed to letters, using market research services and advertising in local newspapers. By sending direct emails people are made aware about opportunities to engage even if they choose not to respond to our invitation. This is reflected in the open rate of our email invitations and the visitor numbers to Melville Talks which is consistently higher than the number of people who choose to participate.

Demographic data

When conducting a survey we also ensure demographic data is collected from participants. We can then determine the extent to which a sample is demographically representative by comparing who responded against the Australian Bureau of Statistics profile for the same area. 

What if I want to participate in the survey but don't receive an invitation?

While not everyone who is interested in an engagement will receive an invitation to participate in a survey, it is not the only method we use to gain community feedback about issues affecting them. 

We use multiple methods to engage with the community, to find out how you can get involved in an engagement your interested in just visit the Melville Talks Engagements page to see what is open for you to participate in. All information shared by the community is analysed and reported on.

How can I become part of the sample used by the City

We encourage the community to update their contact details with the City, including email to ensure they are part of the sample frame we use for engagements.

Why do we use mobile participation, how does it work and what happens with the data?

Mobile participation (M-Participation) gives everyone a voice and involves participants using smart phones or tablets at a public event.

It's a dynamic, interactive and fun tool which allows everyone present the opportunity to speak for themselves and be heard.

More conventional workshop methods have a number of disadvantages:

  • Confident and articulate people will control discussions.
  • People who are uncomfortable with speaking in a public setting will not contribute.
  • Records of the event are likely to be incomplete or inaccurate, particularly in circumstances where volunteer scribes are used.
  • If audio recordings are used, the costs of set up and transcription are likely to be prohibitive.
  • Outcomes from workshops are unlikely to be available for several weeks, rather than immediately following an event.

How does it work?

Currently we use Poll Everywhere which allows attendees to use mobile phones and tablets to get to know each other through a series of icebreaker questions.

This is followed by a presentation where attendees will be asked a series of questions including multiple choice, open response, live word clouds, clickable images, up- and down-voting for Q&A, and rank order.

The best part about mobile participation is that all the responses are displayed live allowing for conversations to develop and evolve.

What do you do with the data?

We use Mobile Participation to maintain a true and accurate electronic record of workshop proceedings.

After each workshop the information is published and shared on the relevant Melville Talks project page.

How do we use Poll Everywhere at a workshop?
  1. Attendees can either use their own mobile phone or one of the iPads made available by the City.
  2. To participate in the workshop attendees will then need to either use their own data or log into the Wi-Fi Network and then open their internet browsing app.
  3. In the URL bar, type www.pollev.com/melvilletalks
  4. The presentation will only be available at the time of the workshop and does not require participants to provide a name.
What if I'm not confident participating using mobile devices?

City of Melville staff are always available at workshops to help attendees participate using mobile devices and answer questions. Alternatively you can bring someone who is confident with mobile technology (kids are great and love to use it) just let us know when you RSVP.

If you would like to submit your answers on paper that's fine too. They will be added to the final report but unfortunately will not be shared at the time of the workshop.

What happens with my feedback?

In community engagement processes, all comments, ideas and suggestion are collected and reported alongside other inputs, including legislative, financial and technical requirements to inform Council on decision making processes. Depending on whether the information is quantitative or qualitative in nature, different methods are used to analyse and then report back to the community.

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