What's this all about?

The Community Engagement Strategy adopted in 2014 is now 5 years old and due for review.

References, demographic data and information about technology use within the strategy needed to be updated and a desktop review of statutory changes, policies and other strategies identified several new accountabilities such as the Wingecarribee Disability Inclusion Action Plan, NSW Information Commissioner’s Charter for Public Participation and Crown Land Management Act 2016.

Consultation data and responses received for a 2018 survey generally confirmed that the approaches outlined in the strategy are still appropriate but some tweaks are required. So the strategy’s objectives remain relevant and no change is proposed.

We have however identified specific aspects of listed actions which needed improvement and these are outlined in the associated Council report.

The strategy review coincided with an amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) which requires councils to prepare a Community Participation Plan for land use planning matters by 1 December 2019.

Section 2.23(4) of the Act gives Councils the option to prepare a standalone plan or include the requirements in a community engagement strategy.

Rather than create another document, we have included pages in the draft Community Engagement Strategy which clearly set out when and how Council will engage with its communities across all the planning functions it performs.

How does the strategy differ from the previous version?

Details of the changes made are outlined in the associated report to Council which can be read here.

In summary:

  • objectives remain relevant and no change is proposed for these
  • actions have had minor adjustments
  • references have been updated for all relevant statutory changes, policies and other strategies developed since 2014
  • demographic data and information about technology use within the strategy has been updated
  • the strategy now includes a section about community participation which clearly sets out when and how Council will engage with its communities across all the planning functions it performs (strategic planning and development assessment) under the EP&A Act.

How does the strategy incorporate EP&A Act requirements for planning matters?

All Councils in NSW are required to prepare a Community Participation Plan under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). 

In March 2018, changes to the Act set out new requirements for Councils to prepare a Community Participation Plan (CPP) by 1 December 2019. 

Section 2.23(4) of the Act gives Councils the option to prepare a standalone CPP or include the requirements in a community engagement strategy prepared under section 402 of the Local Government Act 1993

Staff have included information in the draft Community Engagement Strategy which clearly sets out when and how Council will engage with its communities across all the planning functions it performs (strategic planning and development assessment) under the Act. Reference is also made to the Notification of Development Proposals Policy (14 November 2018) which confirms the various types of notification and submission periods required for development matters.

What is the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979?

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) provides a system of environmental planning and assessment for the State of New South Wales. Council must comply with this Act.

To view the EP&A Act visit www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/1979/203/full or to learn more about the recent updates view the video and information at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Environmental-Planning-and-Assessment-Act-updated

The objects of this Act are as follows:

  • (a) to promote the social and economic welfare of the community and a better environment by the proper management, development and conservation of the State’s natural and other resources,
  • (b) to facilitate ecologically sustainable development by integrating relevant economic, environmental and social considerations in decision-making about environmental planning and assessment,
  • (c) to promote the orderly and economic use and development of land,
  • (d) to promote the delivery and maintenance of affordable housing,
  • (e) to protect the environment, including the conservation of threatened and other species of native animals and plants, ecological communities and their habitats,
  • (f) to promote the sustainable management of built and cultural heritage (including Aboriginal cultural heritage),
  • (g) to promote good design and amenity of the built environment,
  • (h) to promote the proper construction and maintenance of buildings, including the protection of the health and safety of their occupants,
  • (i) to promote the sharing of the responsibility for environmental planning and assessment between the different levels of government in the State,
  • (j) to provide increased opportunity for community participation in environmental planning and assessment.

How was the strategy review conducted?

The review was managed in-house to avoid unnecessary expenditure and included consideration of:

  • achievements since the Strategy was adopted in 2014, 
  • recommendations made by staff for future iterations of the Strategy, and 
  • new planning requirements. 

A desktop review of statutory changes, policies and other strategies was conducted which identified several new accountabilities such as the Wingecarribee Disability Inclusion Action Plan, NSW Information Commissioner’s Charter for Public Participation and Crown Land Management Act 2016

Consultation data was examined including: 

Census 2016 data was also consulted to obtain recent demographic information and a Communication and Engagement Survey conducted to identify current information about community preferences with regard to communication and public participation.

How do I comment or make a submission?

You can make a submission about the draft strategy currently on exhibition by:

Submissions must be received by Wingecarribee Shire Council before 9am Wednesday 6 November 2019.

How will my comments or suggestions be used?

All submissions, comments and suggestions will be recorded and considered by the project team. 

Some refinements may be made to the draft documents where appropriate. A summary of submissions and outline of any adjustments will then be included in a report to Council when final endorsement of the Strategy is sought.

The summary is provided so Councillors can see how the community has responded.

What is community engagement?

Council's definition of community engagement is based on the United Nations Declaration on Community Engagement (2005)

We define 'community engagement' as a two-way process of dialogue by which the aspirations, concerns, needs and values of our local community and other relevant stakeholders are incorporated into policy development, planning, decision-making, service delivery and assessment. 

Common terms used for community engagement activities include consultation and public participation.

Methods used to undertake community engagement include, but are not limited to, one-to-one conversations, interviews, committee meetings, workshops and surveys (printed, phone and postal). 

We try to provide opportunities for large and small voices from across the Shire to be heard and recorded. We then include a summary of responses in reports to Council so councillors can see what stakeholders have said about a particular proposal.

How does Council notify the community about opportunities to take part in community engagement activities?

Council officers use a range of tools to advise directly affected residents, property owners, businesses, representative groups and the wider community about opportunities to comment on plans, proposals and services.

These commonly include:

  • letters direct to a property owner, business or representative groups
  • phone calls and meetings
  • advertisements in the Southern Highland News (Wednesdays)
  • media releases issued to radio, television and newspaper
  • posters and flyers in public places and on community noticeboards
  • exhibits or displays in Council buildings such as the Civic Centre and libraries
  • notification to committee members
With improvements in technology and increasing numbers of community members using the internet, we may also utilise:
  • emails direct to people who have provided their contact details, for example village associations, chambers of commerce and representative groups
  • emailed newsletters which provide a brief summary of Council services, events and opportunities to be involved in decision making. We currently have over 4600 people registered for e-newsletters - register me now
  • emails to registered members of YourSayWingecarribee.com.au, our online consultation hub, which currently has over 3000 individuals listed - register me now
  • facebook and twitter
Other communication tools may be used when available or relevant to a particular project such as site signage, community newsletters and facebook groups.

What is the IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum?

The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is an international association which seeks to promote and improve the practice of public participation or community engagement, incorporating individuals, governments, institutions and other entities that affect the public interest throughout the world. 

The IAP2 has developed a Public Participation Spectrum which provides guidance for determining different levels of engagement depending on the issue, and its immediate or long term impact on the community. 

The five levels of engagement outlined in the spectrum are:

Inform: To provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problem, alternatives, opportunities and/or solutions.

Consult: To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.

Involve: To work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered.

Collaborate: To partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution.

Empower: To place final decision-making in the hands of the public.

Council officers may work with the community and stakeholders at varying levels of the spectrum throughout the life of a project.