Reviewing what we heard
A clear and simple approach to community engagement
We are committed to ensuring that our community and stakeholders have opportunities to find out about Council projects and be involved in our decision-making process.
The Northern Beaches Community Engagement Policy and Matrix were first adopted in February 2017 following the amalgamation of the three former Councils. In line with the statutory review period, both documents have now been updated.
We have made some changes to make it clearer and easier for you to find out what we do and how we do it.
We gave you a couple of ways to have your say. The submission form was an opportunity to provide feedback directly on the exhibited policy and strategy.
The survey took you through a series of questions to find out how you currently engage with us and what we can do to help make it easier for you.
Thank you to everyone who made a submission or completed the survey. We are now reviewing the feedback.
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What are the main things I need to know?
Community engagement is a broad term that essentially means how we interact with our community.
It is considered as a two-way (or more) conversation where Council provides the community with information and asks the community to provide their feedback.
It is also commonly referred to as 'consultation' and 'public participation', however, we have chosen to predominantly use the word 'engagement' to ensure clarity and consistency.
The purpose of this policy is to define our commitment to engaging with our community and stakeholders on Council-led projects.
This involves actively communicating with, and listening to, our community prior to, during and following decision making.
This strategy has been prepared to provide our community with a clear understanding of the ways you can expect us to talk with and listen to you, prior to making important decisions that affect you or the services and spaces you use.
It details our principles and approach to delivering effective and robust community and stakeholder engagement on Council-led projects and highlights why it is important to reach, and engage with, our whole community.
Principle 1: Prioritise and champion best practice engagement
We build and maintain a culture of best practice engagement providing our community with genuine opportunities to participate in, and contribute to, Council outcomes.
Principle 2: Plan thoroughly
We take time to plan thoroughly. We think about the time and resources needed and recommend a diverse and robust engagement approach.
A bespoke Community and Stakeholder Engagement Plan is developed based on the nature, complexity, stakeholders and anticipated impacts of the project.
Principle 3: Create open, accessible and diverse engagement opportunities
We provide a diverse range of engagement activities to encourage participation from the whole community ensuring that we reach those that will be impacted or interested, including priority and other under-represented communities.
Principle 4: Communicate well
We promote and deliver open, honest, inclusive and engaging content. Information provided to the community is comprehensive, fit for purpose, objective, timely, in plain English and balanced to support the decisions we need to make.
Principle 5: Build and maintain relationships
We are committed to building effective relationships. We work to break down barriers to reach the diverse communities within our community.
Principle 6: Listen and respond
We actively encourage everyone to express their views in an open and respectful manner.
We are genuinely committed to listening to our community and considering their views, issues and aspirations when making, or recommending decisions.
We respond to participants to demonstrate how community input was considered in the decision-making process.
Principle 7: Learn and improve
We are always learning and continually look for ways to improve our engagement processes, systems, approaches and procedures
We recognise our community’s right to have input into the decisions that are important or of interest to you.
More than this though, engaging with you help us make better decisions.
While engagement does not replace the final decision making of the elected Council, community engagement plays an important role, ensuring the final recommendations made by staff are equitable and well-informed.
The list of what we do across Council is pretty long. Our new draft strategy goes into more detail, however, some of the more common projects include:
- Discussion/issue papers.
- Parks, playgrounds, open space and street improvements.
- Traffic and parking changes.
- Infrastructure projects.
We engage with our community pretty much all year round, although we do take care to try and avoid school, public and religious holidays, and other major social or community events where we can.
We engage with our community online, over the phone and in person. Online engagement is a great way to reach a lot of people and provide information in different ways.
While in person engagement has been more challenging with COVID19 restrictions, we will always try and find ways to engage with our community in a balanced way that meets the needs of our whole community.
Successful engagement programs are underpinned by careful preparation and thorough planning.
Each project is unique, and how much engagement and activities are needed to support this will vary depending on the nature, potential impacts and complexity of the project.
We use theInternational Association or Public Participation (IAP2) spectrum as a general guide.
From that we tailor our approach to suit the nature of the project and the community and stakeholders impacted or interested. Below are some of the commonly used tools we use:
Everyone! Our residents, workers and visitors are all welcome to learn about our projects and offer feedback. Below are some of our more regularly engaged community and stakeholders.