The Community Engagement Policy is a planned process with the specific purpose of working with individuals and groups to encourage active involvement in decisions that affect them or are of interest to them.
How community engagement works in Melbourne
The outcomes of community engagement activities are better decisions that result in improved policy, facilities and services, as well as greater community satisfaction and wellbeing. Community engagement is an essential and legislated local government activity, which enables members of the community, who may be impacted by a council decision to be involved in the decision-making process. It results in better decisions, leading to more sustainable policy, infrastructure and services, as well as greater community satisfaction and wellbeing.
The Community Engagement objectives :
- To provide community clear information that lets them know when something is happening, or about to happen.
- To seek and consider community feedback on alternatives, proposals and/or decisions necessary to be made.
- To work directly with the community throughout the process to ensure that your concerns and aspirations are understood, considered and incorporated where appropriate.
- To partner closely with the community in identifying alternatives, developing solutions and co- designing a jointly agreed outcome.
- To place final decision making in the hands of our community, build their capacity to identify solutions and lead or deliver change
Process of the Community Engagement Policy
The City of Melbourne is committed to fostering a deeper culture of public participation through a new Community Engagement Policy. Residents are invited to participate in the definition of this new participatory strategy.
The new community engagement vision: The Community Engagement Policy
The policy outlines the City of Melbourne's commitment and approaches community engagement practice. It details the principles that guide the work towards delivering sustainable outcomes for the city. It provides a common language that strengthens community engagement for all. Community engagement is everyone's responsibility and evolves as the city evolves. The policy informs the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of community engagement processes. It lets the community know what they can expect from the Council.
The Policy must :
- be developed in consultation with the municipal community.
- give effect to the community engagement principles;
- be capable of being applied to the making of the Council's local laws;
- be capable of being applied in relation to the Council's budget and policy development;
- describes the type and form of community engagement proposed, having regard to the significance and complexity of the matter and the level of resourcing required;
- specify a process for informing the municipal community of the outcome of the community engagement
- include deliberative engagement practices which must include and address any matters prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of the section and be capable of being applied to the development of the Community Vision, Council Plan, Financial Plan and Asset Plan, include any other matters prescribed by the regulations.
The Policy has been built on existing community engagement practice. It aligned to the Act's principles of engagement and international and local frameworks. The Policy has been developed in consultation with community Councillors and management who have reviewed existing practice and nominated priority principles of deliberative engagement. Consultation also explored opportunities and barriers to meaningful public participation.
Steps of the consultation process
1. Consult Council and Traditional Owners (November to December) a step that included:
- three online workshops with Traditional Custodian groups;
- a session with Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre Gardening Group;
- a Community Support Group Conversations with older Melburnians;
- a discussion in the North Melbourne Children's Centre group with young children and educators;
- Early promotion of consultation to business precincts, resident associations, local area networks, youth networks and community groups.
2. Community consultation (January to February) including:
- 12 pop-up engagement kiosks at popular community facilities, immunisation sessions and public spaces across seven neighbourhoods, where they interviewed individuals in-person;
- participate Melbourne online platform page with survey, including FAQs, language interpreter options, and a 'Big Ideas wall';
- direct email submission and phone interview options;
- two virtual workshops;
Opportunities to participate were publicised through social media posts, advertisements, local newspapers, stakeholder-specific newsletters, briefing sessions, direct emails and community channels. These multifaceted communications approaches allowed them to reach children and young people, families, older Melbournians, culturally and linguistically diverse residents, local and international students, workers, businesses, visitors, community organisations and people of diverse abilities and identities.
3. Develop draft policyâ (February): the Policy is a requirement of the Local Government Act 2020 (the Act). The Policy must be developed in consultation with the municipal community, including a deliberative engagement practice.
4. Future Melbourne Committee considers policy (February) : all written submissions/questions and registrations have been addressed to the Committee. (you can find them in the the report of the session)
5. Report back to the community (March) : the purpose of the report was to seek endorsement of the Community Engagement Policy.
How getting involved in meetings
Anyone can address a committee meeting, or submit correspondence to a committee or to the Council. Because of the pandemic situation, Council and Committee meetings were held virtually. During the period 1 May 2020 to 26 April 2021 Councils do not need to provide for members of the public to physically attend meetings. Providing public access to live-streamed events satisfies the public attendance test during this period. Council and Committee meetings are streamed live by the platform Council and committee meetings webpage. Audio and video recordings are also published on the website following each meeting. Community members can participate virtually in Melbourne Committee meetings.
With the public questions and the submissions to items on the agenda they allow community members to participate virtually in Future Melbourne Committee meetings. The community can be informed about meetings : agendas, reports and minutes of the Council and its committees are on the website and available at the Customer Service Centre in Melbourne. Meeting documentation is published five days before a scheduled ordinary meeting, and they publish the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting as soon as possible after the meeting. Citizens can also be notified when documents are available or when there are any changes to the scheduled meetings. Melbourne City Council uses to hear opinions from non-English speakers about how they can strengthen the quality of the conversations they have with their community, and why it's important for everybody to have a say in local projects and decisions. For this reason they have a translation support in different languages.
Sources (in english) :
Site of the Community Engagement Policy Consultation
Getting involved in meetings
The Public Engagement
About Melbourne City Council
Report to the Future Melbourne Committee Community Engagement Policy