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 we intend to do something that may have a positive or negative impact on the quality of life or wellbeing of our community, or when required by legislation. How and when we do this depends on the degree of influence given to the community in the decision-making process and the lifecycle of the project.

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

Below are examples of what can be influenced through community engagement, the level of participation and the methods we might use.

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

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What can be influenced?Level of participationWhat this meansPossible method/s used
The scope of the projectInvolve during project development phase and inform during subsequent phases.

We will work with our community to ensure their ideas and concerns are reflected in the development of the project and we will provide feedback on how community input influenced decisions. Our community have the most knowledge of, or concerns about the likely effects of a project so we will engage with them early on, usually in the project development phase, to avoid negative impacts or potentially mitigate them

  • Community Reference Group (CRG) in person or online
  • Community panel or think tank in person or online
  • Live polling (see Mobile Participation in the FAQs below)
  • Webinars
The options and alternatives for the implementation of a projectPartner/collaborate during all project phases.We look to our community for advice, local knowledge, advice and innovation in formulating solutions to problems, incorporating their advice and recommendations into decisions to the maximum extent possible.
  • Community Reference Group (CRG) in person or online
  • Community panel or think tank in person or online
  • Live polling (see Mobile Participation in the FAQs below)
Preferences for specified options and alternativesConsult as necessary from project development to implementation. 

We will listen to and acknowledge community views and concerns, and provide feedback on how community input influenced a final decision/s made by Council or the City.

Multiple methods can and may be used.

  • Survey
  • Community panel or think tank in person or online
  • Workshop/focus group*: To make sure these processes are conducted in a ‘safe’ space, they will be facilitated in such a way as to encourage openness and accountability among all participants. Workshops can be conducted in person or online
  • Online discussion forum
  • Interactive maps
  • Ideas walls 
Final decisions on a matterEmpowerWe will implement what the community decides
  • Participatory budgeting 
  • Online or in person voting


FAQs

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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