Community Strategic Plan taps into Residents' vision

A flagship community engagement campaign successfully tapped into the visions of Tweed residents, ratepayers and organisations, when Council embarked on stage one of its Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework late last year. A comprehensive campaign, guided by Council's new Community Engagement Strategy, attracted a huge level of public input for the 10-year Tweed Community Strategic Plan.

The NSW Government requires all councils in the State to devise and implement an Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework, to improve long-term strategic planning by local government.

Council acknowledged the Community Strategic Plan – the visionary and overarching document in the framework – would be its most important strategic document for the next decade and therefore believed it was vital to received maximum public input from all sectors of the community.

However, it was also the first major consultation campaign guided by the Community Engagement Strategy and would set a new benchmark in demonstrating Council's intention to consult with the broad Tweed community.

For both these reasons, Council embarked on its biggest and most varied consultation campaign to get the issue out into all parts of the community and to make it as easy as possible for people to provide input.

Council used a number of engagement methods for the first time, including an independently moderated online forum, a television commercial produced in-house, audio versions of the key documents and podcasts screened in clubs throughout the Tweed.

They were complemented by a series of community information stalls and roundtables, a 24/7 phone submission service, school and skate park visits, a random phone survey and online survey, an Aboriginal community workshop and a special issue of Council's own weekly newspaper, the Tweed Link, which is distributed to 38,500 households.

Each method carried a simple slogan – "My vision, your vision, our vision" – which urged community members to provide their vision for the Tweed for the next 10 years.

As a result, the level of public input which exceeded any previous engagement campaign by Council. Almost 250 comments were lodged on the online forum, 71 written submissions were received, hundreds completed the community survey and more than 350 people attended the information stalls and roundtables.

The mountain of input, guided by the simple campaign message, provided a wealth of public opinion to inform the final version of the Strategic Plan, which was adopted by Council in December.