Community Engagement Strategy
Each local council must prepare and implement a Community Engagement Strategy for engaging the local community for the development and review of the Community Strategic Plan. The Community Engagement Strategy must be based on the social justice principles of access, equity, participation and rights.
The Community Engagement Strategy must identify relevant stakeholder groups in the community and outline the methods that the council will use to engage each of these groups.
Effective local councils needs a combination of representative and participatory democracy, and particularly during the development and review of the Community Strategic Plan. Some councils find it challenging to effectively involve the community in planning processes, but it is important for the long-term success of the Community Strategic Plan (and the plans that fall out of it) that a diverse and representative group of people, and in fact anyone who has an interest, has the opportunity to participate.
To best enable this, councils are required to prepare a Community Engagement Strategy for the development and review of the Community Strategic Plan. The Community Engagement Strategy may also usefully inform other activities undertaken by a council.
The Community Engagement Strategy needs to identify stakeholders and plan methods of engaging each of these groups. How this is done will depend on the individual characteristics of the community, its existing relationship with the council, and the time and resources available for the process. It is important that sufficient time is allowed for community engagement.
It is also important to understand the difference between informing the community about what the council is proposing, and empowering the community to play an integral role in determining the goals, strategies and actions to be undertaken. The following diagram, based on the spectrum developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), illustrates this: