Latrobe City Council – Dec. 2010

Community Engagement Policy 2010 – 2014

In 2009 Council commenced a process to review the Council’s Community Engagement Policy and Strategy. The purpose of the review was to develop a revised Community Engagement Plan because of its pivotal role in facilitating community involvement by Latrobe City residents in Council’s future decision making processes.

A draft Community Engagement Plan 2010-2014 was developed following a process of consultation and engagement with key internal and external stakeholders.

More than 1300 Latrobe Valley residents participated in the community consultation program. Findings and recommendations from the program were considered in the development of the revised Community Engagement Plan.

The “draft” Community Engagement Plan 2010-2014 outlined a range of actions that could be undertaken by the Council to ensure a high quality of community engagement into the future.

“Community Sounding Board”:

A key new initiative in this Plan is the creation of a Community Sounding Board which is designed to provide our Council with a broader platform on which to make well informed decisions whilst contributing to the development of a participatory relationship with a wide cross section of our community.

Although a comprehensive scoping exercise will be necessary in year one of this Plan, it is envisaged that the Sounding Board would be an email/internet based system with a large database of members who are regularly contacted for comment on a range of Council plans, strategies and activities.

“Sounding Boards” have been developed as a pivotal link between local government and the community in many countries across the world. In 2000, Stirling Council, in Scotland established a citizens’ panel, the Stirling Sounding Board. This sounding board is made up of 1,300 residents and is representative of the wider community by such factors as age, gender, working status, tenure, urban and rural localities. The sounding board is refreshed periodically to ensure that the views reflect those of all citizens.

Wyndham City Council in Victoria has established a community panel to act as a sounding board and also has a program called “community talk” which is designed to provide feedback to Council on issues of importance to their community. In New South Wales, Mosman Council has a sounding board which emphasises the importance of community involvement in planning for the future of their municipality.

The development of a Community Sounding Board will provide our Council with a new and broader platform on which to make well informed decisions. The establishment of such a Sounding Board will also create more of a participatory relationship with a wide cross section of our community.

The Community Sounding Board will help to create new contacts and help Council to deepen its coverage whilst inviting our community to be a more integral part of planning for our future development.

The Sounding Boards’ main function will enable Council to:

  • Gain different viewpoints regarding a range of issues that may confront our community;
  • Listen to a wide range of voices on important issues within the community so that a range of opinions are heard;
  • Provide an opportunity to present Council proposals to a broad cross section of the community to get their input;
  • Consider and report on matters of interest or concern to the community;
  • Assist in keeping in contact with community groups, special interest groups, residents and businesses in the community.

The development of a Community Sounding Board will enable Council to be better positioned to make informed decisions about issues that affect the local community. It will provide Council with increased confidence that a cross section of the community is engaging on issues of concern. In turn, the community will have the knowledge that the Council is accountable and in tune with its wishes.

It is planned that the Sounding Board will provide residents with the opportunity, through a range of processes, to express their views on issues and to propose local solutions to local issues where change or improvement is required.

It is also planned that a public expression of interest in participating in the Sounding Board will be advertised so as to encourage wide community involvement. In addition, specific interest and stakeholder groups will be invited to participate so that the Sounding Board will have access to, and the capacity to canvass, a wide range of views on key issues. These interest groups include voluntary and not-for-profit, health, tourism and education, key local industries, small business and other sectors that play a key role and have an interest in our community.

It is envisaged that the Sounding Board will have a significant membership and communication with participants will be through the internet. Council has a number of options regarding online community consultation interfaces.

At its Ordinary Meeting held on Monday 18th October 2010, Council resolved that, after having received and considered all public submissions, to adopt the Community Engagement Plan 2010-2014.

TOURISM PRODUCT AUDIT & REVIEW – LATROBE VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE

Consultants have been appointed to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the tourism product within the municipality and a review of the Latrobe Visitor Information Centre, both with a view to strengthening the marketing and potential investment attraction of the region. The final report will provide a basis and framework for strategic actions to drive tourism for Latrobe City into the future.

The Tourism Product Audit will provide a tool for understanding Latrobe City’s products and strengths, our point of difference and how we fit within the wider Gippsland branding. It will also assist Council make informed decisions for strategic actions for appropriate marketing, funding applications and investment attraction.

The review of the Latrobe Visitor Information Centre will provide an understanding of issues impacting visitation and service delivery from the current location of the information centre and will consider emerging visitor and technological trends and how these may influence future service delivery.

Consultation will be undertaken with a range of stakeholders and community members including local and state government, businesses, town groups, and individuals. The community will have an opportunity for input and consultation early next year.

For further information or enquiries, please contact the project officer, Linda Brock, Tourism Coordinator on 5128 5655 or email Linda.brock@latrobe.vic.gov.au

Darrell White

Councillor – Firmin Ward
Latrobe City Council