The Community Engagement Policy with minor amendments was adopted by Council on 20 June 2023. A copy of the adopted Community Engagement Poicy is available here.
Amendments to the Policy
The public exhibition period is a final stage of engagement and is intended as a check in with the community to demonstrate how we have incorporated people’s feedback from earlier stages of engagement.
In 2021, Council endorsed a recommendation to maintain a minimum 10-business days public exhibition period as a final stage of engagement on policies, strategies and plans.
After careful consideration through 2022, we made the decision to extend the public exhibition period to 15-business days. This will allow more weekend time for community members to provide feedback and recognises that sometimes community members may miss the first rounds of engagement due to the volume of information and activities in people’s lives.
This is considered a best-practice approach to community engagement, where the level of influence the community can have over a decision is higher in the first stages of engagement than it is at the final stage of public exhibition. This amendment was supported by those who provided feedback.
Through internal engagement with Officers who design and deliver community engagement, we found that there needed to be more clarity around how to give effect to the community engagement principles contained within the Local Government Act 2020.
Following feedback from the community, the principles have been included in Policy Principles section of the Policy, along with some guidance for Council officers on how to include them in their engagement planning and delivery.
The original policy principles which were developed during community consultation in 2020 and give effect to the Local Government Act community engagement principles in Appendix 2.
The description of the role of Councillors in section “Policy scope and our roles and responsibilities”, page 5 of the Policy, reflects the exact wording of section 28 of the Local Government Act 2020:
"To participate in the decision making of Council and to represent the interests of the community in decision making. Councillors must also contribute to the strategic direction of Council through the development of key strategic documents of the Council, including the Council Plan."
A reference to the Local Government Regulations (Planning and Reporting) Schedule 1 is added to Appendix 4 of the Policy.
At its meeting on 20 June 2023, the following amendments were made to the Policy prior to its adoption:
- References to LGBTIQ+ amended to LGBTIQA+.
- Under the heading "Who we engage", "informal users of parks" was added to the list.
- Under the heading: Engagement methods we use, "signs in parks to reach informal users of parks" was added under the "inform" section.
In 2020 we adopted a new Community Engagement Policy. The policy guides the ways we involve the Merri-bek community in Council decisions that impact and interest them. It explains our commitment to public participation including when, who and how we will engage on different matters.
Following an internal review in 2021, we have made some minor amendments to the policy to increase it's effectiveness and give Council officers more clarity around how to implement to the community engagement principles of the Local Government Act 2020.
The amended Policy was made available on Conversations Merri-bek for 15-business days in February 2023 for submissions.
The 15-business day exhibition period was promoted to those who had participated in the Policy’s development, including community groups and organisations, and was also promoted broadly across Council’s social media and enews channels.
This resulted in the Conversations Merri-bek submission page receiving 269 visitors who reviewed the page 355 times and included 47 downloads of the Policy. From these, four submissions were made to Council. The minimal submissions received is understandable due to the very minor nature of the amendments.