A new era of public consultation by Tweed Shire Council is being guided by a Community Engagement Strategy it adopted last December. The strategy identifies when and how Council will engagement with the community – and who it consults with – as well as explaining the preferred methods of engagement.
"It provides a formal guide for consistent and high-standard community engagement across the whole organisation, to maximise the cost effectiveness of campaigns and optimise the level of quality public feedback," Council General Manager Mike Rayner said.
Council's Communications and Marketing Unit created the strategy to help staff plan and implement effective engagement campaigns, while instilling a greater culture of engagement throughout the organisation.
It also shows the community the level of consultation that could be expected for various types of projects.
The strategy identifies the preferred methods of engagement and the type of project or issue – from shire-wide, high impact projects to locality-based low-impact activities - and links them using a matrix which highlights the various levels of engagement.
It will be accompanied by an engagement 'toolkit', which gives staff templates and step-by-step guides for each engagement method.
The document identifies the Tweed's stakeholders and addresses issues of social justice and equity in access to public discussions.
Mr Rayner said the strategy introduced several new methods to Council's tools of engagement, including a proposed citizens panel comprising 800 randomly selected members of the community.
"The random selection process and size of the panel will provide us with a statistically representatives snap shot of the views of the wider Tweed community – to give a voice to the so-called silent majority," Mr Rayner said.
"The citizens panel and the other engagement methods in the Community Engagement Strategy are designed to ensure the Council receives quality community input to guide its decision making."