Updated: Feb 16, 2021
Community engagement might as well be a buzz word. Unless you work in that area everyday it doesn't necessarily have a lot of relevance to you - or at least, it doesn't until you care about something happening in your community.
So here's the crux of it.
Community engagement is how organisations - particularly councils - work with communities to make decisions about what needs to be done or planned for in the future. It has lots of components:
How they share information or talk with you with ie face to face, via mail, online
What level of engagement you want? At one end there is simply sharing timely information. While more active communities might want to be empowered to achieve the outcomes they desire themselves.
What topics are particularly important to discuss with you ie council policy, or capital works and changes to local laws. The list can be quite long!
Hepburn Shire Council recently released a discussion paper looking at Community Engagement policy that is not only worth a read - but includes a quick survey.
This survey is your opportunity to let council know what they can do to better enable communication and to help ensure that your voice is heard within the context of regional development, but you need to have completed it by the 7th February 2021. You may have already spoken with them about it at some of the pop ups that have happened around Clunes over the last week? If you haven't there are still ways you can have your say, as well as encourage others to have a say too.
The catch with any kind of consultation.
Ensuring representation - that young people have a voice, that people who aren't online get to respond, that someone who has never really thought having an opinion or influence is encouraged to participate or that the busy person who didn't know a survey or consultation was happening - is tricky. If you don't get enough input from people the combined voice can be skewed, not necessarily representing the diversity in our community.
But there are ways you can help this.
Ask your friends to respond.
If you can't access the online survey, grab one from the library.
...and if all else fails, just contact the council direct.
You can contact either:
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call Michelle Whyte on 03 5348 2306
This process is part of a legislated requirement for council's to work effectively with communities, but is also timely as many of the Councillors across the shire are new and has expressed strong views on the importance of listening to and working with community members.
AUTHOR: Lana de Kort.