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Engaging With the Community

What is community engagement?

Community engagement is a planned process that involves the community in problem solving, planning or decision-making, and uses community input to assist in making these decisions. Community engagement can include consulting on specific ideas or proposals; involving the community in planning processes; and collaborating with the community to make decisions.

Why is engaging with our community important?

Community engagement can lead to improved outcomes when we seek out the aspirations, concerns and values of our community, who, in turn, share their aspirations, concerns and values with us.

  • Empowers the community to have a say over decisions that affect their lives, their neighbourhood and city.
  • Brings more information to the project, including knowledge, history, use and culture
  • Improves uptake of services as they are tailored to community aspirations
  • Gives our Elected Members confidence in making decisions
  • Improves efficiency, legitimacy and transparency

When we work together, we are better informed and better able to meet community needs.

Our Stakeholder Engagement Policy identifies the City's clear commitment to engaging with the community to complement the decision making role of the Council. This policy is supported by our Stakeholder Engagement Strategy.

Our community engagement process is guided by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Public Participation Spectrum.

How do we engage and when do we do it?

We aim to engage with our community whenever there is an opportunity for you to influence a project or its outcome, or when required by legislation. How and when we do this depends on the public participation objective and the lifecycle of the project.

If there is no opportunity to influence an outcome, we will still communicate and inform this to the community.

Below are examples of levels of public participation and the methods we might use.

To view the current and past engagements, go to Melville Talks

Public participation objective
To provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problems, alternatives, opportunities and/ or solution.To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/ or decisions.To work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered.To partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution.To place final decision making in the hands of the public.
Obligation to the public
We will keep you informed.We will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations, and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision. We will seek your feedback on drafts and proposals.We will work with you to ensure that your concerns and aspirations are directly reflected in the alternatives developed and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision.We will work together with you to formulate solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible.We will implement what you decide.
Examples techniques and projects
  • Surveys
  • Public comment
  • Pop-up engagement
  • Quick poll
  • Ideas walls
  • Interactive maps
  • Workshops
  • Focus group
  • Interviews
  • Citizen’s Jury
  • Ballots/elections
  • Delegated decisions
  • Participatory budgeting - checkout Project Robin Hood
  • Community voting - Local Government Elections

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Advisory Groups

GroupPurposeTerms of reference (ToR)MembershipFrequency
Community Feedback PanelTo provide advice and commentary from a diverse group of community stakeholders on key projects and strategiesRead the Community Feedback Panel ToR30 membersBi-monthly in person meeting
Access Advisory PanelTo provides advice for the delivery of the City's Disability Access and Inclusion Plan. To provided lived-experience feedback on built environment projects and plans being developed by the city and local residents.Read the Access Advisory Panel ToR

18 Community members

4 Staff

Reconciliation Action GroupTo engage with the City and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community to provide advice for the delivery of the Reconciliation Action Plan.N/AOpenQuarterly


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 will the community know when they can get involved in an engagement?

There are many ways we inform the community of the opportunity to get involved in an engagement including:

  • via the Melville Talks page,
  • on social media via the City's Facebook and Instagram pages,
  • direct email invitations sent to a random sample to City of Melville residents, ratepayers, library and LeisureFit members,
  • letters,  
  • posters on public noticeboards,
  • advertorials in Melville Gazette,
  • Information in the Melville Talks eNews and other City of Melville eNews channels,
  • Signage if an engagement is about a specific location, and
  • Information in media releases. 
Why do we send direct invitations to a random sample?

If you want to consult with the community 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.

Demographic data

When conducting an engagement we 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. 

    How can I be part of the random sample?

    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.

    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.

    Why can’t the community always influence what happens?

    While there are many occasions where community influence can be applied, for the most part the democratically elected Council is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the whole community, for the ‘good of the district'. This is particularly so in the case of long-term planning for the future, where Council need to take into account factors such as population growth and the needs of future generations, demographic trends, new technologies, changing social expectations and the impact of climate change. 

    How are workshops, focus groups and webinars held online?

    Currently we use Zoom when facilitating online workshops, focus groups and webinars. This allows the community to participate as they would in person from their own homes using their own computer, tablet or phone.

    All participants receive instructions on how to join a Zoom session ahead of the meeting and support is available during a session. Learn more about joining a Zoom meeting.

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