Have your say… on how you have your say!

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Cover of the 2022 Community Engagement Strategy featuring three adults and a child looking at a river and mountains

As a community member do you feel you are at the centre of Kempsey Shire Council's decision-making process?

Help Us Hear U

Because our shire values the opportunity to participate in Council decision-making Kempsey Shire Council has conducted a review of our community engagement practices and will adopt a new Community Engagement Strategy by the end of 2022.

Residents, businesses, and community groups are invited to provide feedback on the draft Community Engagement Strategy, including a draft Community Participation Plan.

You told us that participating in Council decision-making was valuable, so Council has worked to develop this enhanced public participation process to let you and everyone else in the community engage.

Better decisions are made with quality information. The community is one of the best sources of information. This engagement strategy will connect the community and the decision-makers.

Council’s new community engagement strategy confirms our commitment to effective and inclusive decision-making that respects the role of the community to have a say.

You had your say… on how you have your say!

We had a terrific response to our quick survey to help us make sure this strategy is getting it right.

What we heard

Your FeedbackOur Response

Have more community input into decision making

One of the key motivations for revising our Community Engagement Strategy and for creating the Community Participation Plan was to try and make it easier and more likely that our staff will ask for community input earlier in projects and to make it simpler for the community to provide meaningful input.

Do more engagement on Facebook or with Facebook Polls

Facebook is one of our key communication tools, but we are not as good at using it for engagement.

Partly this is because Facebook themselves have eliminated polls from the platform. They made this change about 12 months ago. There are also regulations that prevent us from accepting comments on social media as formal submissions.

That said, we agree that we can and should do more on Facebook and we will work to find ways to conduct engagement on Facebook as part of the implementation of this strategy and plan.

We have amended the draft documents to reflect this.

Why ask if you identify as Aboriginal?

We included several demographic questions in the survey as we want to try and make sure that we have heard from all the stakeholders in the community.

This is important for high quality engagement so you will see these questions on our engagement surveys in future.

This doesn’t mean that any one group gets priority or more say in decision-making. Rather we are trying to identify any key groups we have not heard from.

At the same time, we understand that personal identity is just that, personal, so these questions are not mandatory and not answering them will not change how any submission is dealt with.

Why doesn’t the strategy or the plan deal with how complaints and concerns are dealt with?

Complaints and concerns are a legitimate and important way that residents provide information to Council.

The Community Engagement Strategy and Community Participation Plan are focused on engagement in the Council’s decision-making. They are not designed to cover all forms of engagement.

As such the treatment of complaints is not part of the strategy or the plan.

That said, we agree that information about complaints and concerns that have been raised in the past should be included in the research phase of projects and development assessments.

We have amended the draft documents to reflect this.

There should not be as much emphasis on engaging with Aboriginal communities.

Good decision-making happens when we get input from all the key stakeholders in the community and consider all the key issues.

By listening to multiple voices and looking for multiple perspectives we set ourselves on course to deliver the best outcomes.

This doesn’t mean that any one group gets priority or more say in decision-making.

The Aboriginal community is one such stakeholder group, and the potential impacts of a decision on them need to be considered just like the impacts on other groups such as the elderly, young people, people living with disability, sports clubs or parents.

We will update the documents to emphasise and highlight the variety of stakeholders that may be directly engaged with as well as the rationale.

We need more engagement about crime prevention and community safety for the aged.

Unfortunately, the need for engagement on crime and safety, or any specific project, is outside the scope of this project. It is focused on the two draft documents.

The Community Safety Precinct Committee is a quarterly meeting organised by NSW Police to engage the community in safety and crime prevention discussions. For more information, contact NSW Police on 6583 0199.

We need more engagement about our history.

While this is outside the scope of this survey, which is focused on our engagement strategy and participation plan, we would encourage you to keep advocating for the specific work on our history that you would like to see.

We need more engagement about attracting business and investment in the Kempsey area.

We would encourage you to keep advocating for any specific work to attract business and investment that you would like to see.

We need a plan that shows the community are worth listening to and makes sure Council is listening and acting on what is said.

We agree!

The entire point of the two documents we have put forward is to improve the way that Council listens to our community, especially in our decision-making.

Too many people in the shire have reason to think that Council doesn’t want to listen to them. Too often this means they don’t even try to be heard. This is the cycle that we are trying to break with the ideas and the approach in these documents.

If there is a specific thing – or things - you would like to see changed in either document or anything you think is missing, please let us know.

This strategy and plan can only be judged by how they are implemented.

We agree with this too.

No matter how detailed, how well designed or how impressive these documents are, it won’t matter if they aren’t put into effect. That is why we have carefully drafted them, based on input from both staff and the community, to be able to be rolled out effectively.

Why is there so much emphasis on the environment?

Good decision-making happens when we get input from all the key stakeholders in the community and consider all the key issues.

The environment is one such issue, and the potential impacts of a decision on the environment need to be considered just like the impacts on our economy, lifestyle, or culture.

By listening to multiple voices and looking for multiple perspectives we set ourselves on course to deliver the best outcomes.

Council’s current process for responding to submissions is inadequate. It needs more emphasis in the section Closing the Loop.

This is a very important point. The reason that we have created our first Community Participation Plan is to outline a consistent approach for each phase of engagement – including responding to submissions.

We are creating a new Community Engagement Toolkit for staff to use that will make sure all submissions are responded to in a consistent, complete, and timely manner.

That said, we agree this could be spelled out more clearly in the Closing the Loop section.

We have amended the draft documents to reflect this. Thank you.

Increasing the transparency of decision making, including providing an explanation of the reasoning to those who have engaged, will add value.

We agree.

One of our focuses in the coming year will be implementing the ideas and approach to Closing the Loop outlined in these two documents.

The Community Engagement Strategy is focused on rate paying residents. It doesn't state any procedure or process for engaging with non- ratepaying residents especially in the low socioeconomic areas.

The strategy and plan are intended to focus on all stakeholders not just ratepayers.

We know that many of the residents we work for are not ratepayers, including many renters and business operators.

We have amended draft documents to reflect this.

The only means of communication with the community is through the KSC online portal.

There are two important aspects to this point: Whether it is factually true, and whether it feels true.

Factually, this is not the case. Council uses a vast number of ‘offline’ outlets for communicating with the community. These include the local papers, radio, newsletters included in rates notices, outdoor signage, posters, postcards, and flyers as well as the everyday interaction with the community that ranges from public meetings to one-on-one interaction.

That said, if it feels true that Council only communicates online, this remains a very real concern. We need to promote our offline platforms better.

KSC has determined that most of the 30,000 residents of Kempsey Shire have the necessary skills and connectivity to enable them to track what is happening in their community.

This is true.

Most of the residents of Kempsey Shire do have the skills and access to look up information online and engage with social media and websites including Council’s sites. Our reporting demonstrates that our online communications are by far the most successful and preferred option for most people.

That said, it is vital that we enable those who do not have the skills or access to otherwise find out information about Council.

We use many tools, including those listed above, to do so and we are constantly looking to improve in this area.

Two examples are the recent overhaul of the newsletter format that is sent out with rates notices and the development of the Better Together Network which seeks to harness and empower community word of mouth as a tool.

The proposed Community Engagement Strategy and Community Participation Plan are entirely reliant on digital communications, based on the flawed assumption that every community member can access the online materials.

Council’s corporate website, and our engagement site Your Say Macleay, are foundational tools for the proposed community engagement methodology. However, they are not proposed to be to the exclusion of other tools.

Additionally, Council is always able to provide hard copies of online material through the customer service team.

Based on your feedback, this has not been communicated effectively in the draft documents.

A clear explanation of the use and availability of non-digital sources has been added.

KSC is discriminating against those in the community who are unable to access information online. The digital focus of these documents makes them completely irrelevant.

The philosophy of these documents is entirely the opposite of this.

The draft strategy and plan are focused on enabling the entire community to participate in Council’s decision-making process, not on discriminating against, groups and individuals.

They specifically outline the need to tailor our engagement for stakeholders that may not be able to participate as easily.

So, while we have seen that the majority of our audience prefer to engage with Council online, and it is a focus it is not our sole focus.

We have amended the draft documents to make it clear that engagement will always be accessible to the entire community.

Based on the concerns you have outlined, we have reviewed these sections to further emphasise the need for all engagement projects to carry out engagement on and offline.

In past community engagements Council has failed to acknowledge all submissions. This is disheartening for people who have spent a couple of days carefully writing a detailed submission

Some community engagement projects in the past have indeed failed to close the loop with all those who have provided submissions.

This is clearly unacceptable as it rejects the philosophies underpinning community engagement, and as you say, acts as a deterrent to future engagement.

We have amended the documents to articulate the need to close the loop with every individual and group that engages with a project more clearly.

Is there still a way to have a say in this strategy and plan?

Absolutely!

While the survey has now closed, there are still ways of contributing to our engagement process.

The documents will now be presented to Councillors for adoption at the ordinary meeting of Council on Tuesday 13 December. The final drafts will be included in the business papers as part of the agenda which will be published www.ksc.pub/council-meeting on Tuesday 6 December.


If you would like to address the Councillors, you can make an application to speak at the Public Forum on Monday 12 December at www.ksc.pub/public-forum (applications open Tuesday 6 December).

After that, the Community Participation Plan is a living document so we can update it anytime.

If there is a specific thing – or things - you would like to see changed or anything you think is missing, please let us know at engagement@kempsey.nsw.gov.au.

You can still have your say

The draft Community Engagement Strategy and Community Participation Plan were placed on public exhibition for 28 days. Submissions closed at 4pm Thursday 24 November 2022.

If you would like to make a formal submission about any aspect of the draft strategy, we encourage you to make a submission.

While the survey has now closed, there are still ways of contributing to our engagement process.

The documents will now be presented to Councillors for adoption at the ordinary meeting of Council on Tuesday 13 December. The final drafts will be included in the business papers as part of the agenda which will be published www.ksc.pub/council-meeting on Tuesday 6 December.

If you would like to address the Councillors, you can make an application to speak at the Public Forum on Monday 12 December at www.ksc.pub/public-forum (applications open Tuesday 6 December).

After that, the Community Participation Plan is a living document so we can update it anytime.

If there is a specific thing – or things - you would like to see changed or anything you think is missing, please let us know at engagement@kempsey.nsw.gov.au.

As a community member do you feel you are at the centre of Kempsey Shire Council's decision-making process?

Help Us Hear U

Because our shire values the opportunity to participate in Council decision-making Kempsey Shire Council has conducted a review of our community engagement practices and will adopt a new Community Engagement Strategy by the end of 2022.

Residents, businesses, and community groups are invited to provide feedback on the draft Community Engagement Strategy, including a draft Community Participation Plan.

You told us that participating in Council decision-making was valuable, so Council has worked to develop this enhanced public participation process to let you and everyone else in the community engage.

Better decisions are made with quality information. The community is one of the best sources of information. This engagement strategy will connect the community and the decision-makers.

Council’s new community engagement strategy confirms our commitment to effective and inclusive decision-making that respects the role of the community to have a say.

You had your say… on how you have your say!

We had a terrific response to our quick survey to help us make sure this strategy is getting it right.

What we heard

Your FeedbackOur Response

Have more community input into decision making

One of the key motivations for revising our Community Engagement Strategy and for creating the Community Participation Plan was to try and make it easier and more likely that our staff will ask for community input earlier in projects and to make it simpler for the community to provide meaningful input.

Do more engagement on Facebook or with Facebook Polls

Facebook is one of our key communication tools, but we are not as good at using it for engagement.

Partly this is because Facebook themselves have eliminated polls from the platform. They made this change about 12 months ago. There are also regulations that prevent us from accepting comments on social media as formal submissions.

That said, we agree that we can and should do more on Facebook and we will work to find ways to conduct engagement on Facebook as part of the implementation of this strategy and plan.

We have amended the draft documents to reflect this.

Why ask if you identify as Aboriginal?

We included several demographic questions in the survey as we want to try and make sure that we have heard from all the stakeholders in the community.

This is important for high quality engagement so you will see these questions on our engagement surveys in future.

This doesn’t mean that any one group gets priority or more say in decision-making. Rather we are trying to identify any key groups we have not heard from.

At the same time, we understand that personal identity is just that, personal, so these questions are not mandatory and not answering them will not change how any submission is dealt with.

Why doesn’t the strategy or the plan deal with how complaints and concerns are dealt with?

Complaints and concerns are a legitimate and important way that residents provide information to Council.

The Community Engagement Strategy and Community Participation Plan are focused on engagement in the Council’s decision-making. They are not designed to cover all forms of engagement.

As such the treatment of complaints is not part of the strategy or the plan.

That said, we agree that information about complaints and concerns that have been raised in the past should be included in the research phase of projects and development assessments.

We have amended the draft documents to reflect this.

There should not be as much emphasis on engaging with Aboriginal communities.

Good decision-making happens when we get input from all the key stakeholders in the community and consider all the key issues.

By listening to multiple voices and looking for multiple perspectives we set ourselves on course to deliver the best outcomes.

This doesn’t mean that any one group gets priority or more say in decision-making.

The Aboriginal community is one such stakeholder group, and the potential impacts of a decision on them need to be considered just like the impacts on other groups such as the elderly, young people, people living with disability, sports clubs or parents.

We will update the documents to emphasise and highlight the variety of stakeholders that may be directly engaged with as well as the rationale.

We need more engagement about crime prevention and community safety for the aged.

Unfortunately, the need for engagement on crime and safety, or any specific project, is outside the scope of this project. It is focused on the two draft documents.

The Community Safety Precinct Committee is a quarterly meeting organised by NSW Police to engage the community in safety and crime prevention discussions. For more information, contact NSW Police on 6583 0199.

We need more engagement about our history.

While this is outside the scope of this survey, which is focused on our engagement strategy and participation plan, we would encourage you to keep advocating for the specific work on our history that you would like to see.

We need more engagement about attracting business and investment in the Kempsey area.

We would encourage you to keep advocating for any specific work to attract business and investment that you would like to see.

We need a plan that shows the community are worth listening to and makes sure Council is listening and acting on what is said.

We agree!

The entire point of the two documents we have put forward is to improve the way that Council listens to our community, especially in our decision-making.

Too many people in the shire have reason to think that Council doesn’t want to listen to them. Too often this means they don’t even try to be heard. This is the cycle that we are trying to break with the ideas and the approach in these documents.

If there is a specific thing – or things - you would like to see changed in either document or anything you think is missing, please let us know.

This strategy and plan can only be judged by how they are implemented.

We agree with this too.

No matter how detailed, how well designed or how impressive these documents are, it won’t matter if they aren’t put into effect. That is why we have carefully drafted them, based on input from both staff and the community, to be able to be rolled out effectively.

Why is there so much emphasis on the environment?

Good decision-making happens when we get input from all the key stakeholders in the community and consider all the key issues.

The environment is one such issue, and the potential impacts of a decision on the environment need to be considered just like the impacts on our economy, lifestyle, or culture.

By listening to multiple voices and looking for multiple perspectives we set ourselves on course to deliver the best outcomes.

Council’s current process for responding to submissions is inadequate. It needs more emphasis in the section Closing the Loop.

This is a very important point. The reason that we have created our first Community Participation Plan is to outline a consistent approach for each phase of engagement – including responding to submissions.

We are creating a new Community Engagement Toolkit for staff to use that will make sure all submissions are responded to in a consistent, complete, and timely manner.

That said, we agree this could be spelled out more clearly in the Closing the Loop section.

We have amended the draft documents to reflect this. Thank you.

Increasing the transparency of decision making, including providing an explanation of the reasoning to those who have engaged, will add value.

We agree.

One of our focuses in the coming year will be implementing the ideas and approach to Closing the Loop outlined in these two documents.

The Community Engagement Strategy is focused on rate paying residents. It doesn't state any procedure or process for engaging with non- ratepaying residents especially in the low socioeconomic areas.

The strategy and plan are intended to focus on all stakeholders not just ratepayers.

We know that many of the residents we work for are not ratepayers, including many renters and business operators.

We have amended draft documents to reflect this.

The only means of communication with the community is through the KSC online portal.

There are two important aspects to this point: Whether it is factually true, and whether it feels true.

Factually, this is not the case. Council uses a vast number of ‘offline’ outlets for communicating with the community. These include the local papers, radio, newsletters included in rates notices, outdoor signage, posters, postcards, and flyers as well as the everyday interaction with the community that ranges from public meetings to one-on-one interaction.

That said, if it feels true that Council only communicates online, this remains a very real concern. We need to promote our offline platforms better.

KSC has determined that most of the 30,000 residents of Kempsey Shire have the necessary skills and connectivity to enable them to track what is happening in their community.

This is true.

Most of the residents of Kempsey Shire do have the skills and access to look up information online and engage with social media and websites including Council’s sites. Our reporting demonstrates that our online communications are by far the most successful and preferred option for most people.

That said, it is vital that we enable those who do not have the skills or access to otherwise find out information about Council.

We use many tools, including those listed above, to do so and we are constantly looking to improve in this area.

Two examples are the recent overhaul of the newsletter format that is sent out with rates notices and the development of the Better Together Network which seeks to harness and empower community word of mouth as a tool.

The proposed Community Engagement Strategy and Community Participation Plan are entirely reliant on digital communications, based on the flawed assumption that every community member can access the online materials.

Council’s corporate website, and our engagement site Your Say Macleay, are foundational tools for the proposed community engagement methodology. However, they are not proposed to be to the exclusion of other tools.

Additionally, Council is always able to provide hard copies of online material through the customer service team.

Based on your feedback, this has not been communicated effectively in the draft documents.

A clear explanation of the use and availability of non-digital sources has been added.

KSC is discriminating against those in the community who are unable to access information online. The digital focus of these documents makes them completely irrelevant.

The philosophy of these documents is entirely the opposite of this.

The draft strategy and plan are focused on enabling the entire community to participate in Council’s decision-making process, not on discriminating against, groups and individuals.

They specifically outline the need to tailor our engagement for stakeholders that may not be able to participate as easily.

So, while we have seen that the majority of our audience prefer to engage with Council online, and it is a focus it is not our sole focus.

We have amended the draft documents to make it clear that engagement will always be accessible to the entire community.

Based on the concerns you have outlined, we have reviewed these sections to further emphasise the need for all engagement projects to carry out engagement on and offline.

In past community engagements Council has failed to acknowledge all submissions. This is disheartening for people who have spent a couple of days carefully writing a detailed submission

Some community engagement projects in the past have indeed failed to close the loop with all those who have provided submissions.

This is clearly unacceptable as it rejects the philosophies underpinning community engagement, and as you say, acts as a deterrent to future engagement.

We have amended the documents to articulate the need to close the loop with every individual and group that engages with a project more clearly.

Is there still a way to have a say in this strategy and plan?

Absolutely!

While the survey has now closed, there are still ways of contributing to our engagement process.

The documents will now be presented to Councillors for adoption at the ordinary meeting of Council on Tuesday 13 December. The final drafts will be included in the business papers as part of the agenda which will be published www.ksc.pub/council-meeting on Tuesday 6 December.


If you would like to address the Councillors, you can make an application to speak at the Public Forum on Monday 12 December at www.ksc.pub/public-forum (applications open Tuesday 6 December).

After that, the Community Participation Plan is a living document so we can update it anytime.

If there is a specific thing – or things - you would like to see changed or anything you think is missing, please let us know at engagement@kempsey.nsw.gov.au.

You can still have your say

The draft Community Engagement Strategy and Community Participation Plan were placed on public exhibition for 28 days. Submissions closed at 4pm Thursday 24 November 2022.

If you would like to make a formal submission about any aspect of the draft strategy, we encourage you to make a submission.

While the survey has now closed, there are still ways of contributing to our engagement process.

The documents will now be presented to Councillors for adoption at the ordinary meeting of Council on Tuesday 13 December. The final drafts will be included in the business papers as part of the agenda which will be published www.ksc.pub/council-meeting on Tuesday 6 December.

If you would like to address the Councillors, you can make an application to speak at the Public Forum on Monday 12 December at www.ksc.pub/public-forum (applications open Tuesday 6 December).

After that, the Community Participation Plan is a living document so we can update it anytime.

If there is a specific thing – or things - you would like to see changed or anything you think is missing, please let us know at engagement@kempsey.nsw.gov.au.

Page last updated: 03 Dec 2022, 05:23 PM