ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Draft Maroondah Community Engagement Policy 2015


Item  3









Maroondah City Council Community Engagement Policy





August 2015





Copy of MaroondahCityCouncilLogo.bmp                                                         2040lowres.JPG


















































Policy Control Schedule


Policy Title:

Community Engagement Policy

Policy No:


Policy type:

Council Policy

Policy creation date:

May 2015

Current version adopted:  TBC

Current version number: 


Policy review date:

June 2019

Parent policy:


Child policy/policies:


Policy responsibility:

Manager Integrated Planning

TRIM record number:



All printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled. Please check SmartNet for the most recent version of this policy.

What is the purpose of this policy?


This Community Engagement Policy is a formal expression of Council’s commitment to engaging the Maroondah community through the use of appropriate, effective and inclusive practices.


Council is committed to engaging effectively with its community in a meaningful, accountable, responsive and equitable way. This policy outlines Council’s position, role and commitments to ensure community engagement is integrated into Council activities to support decision making, build relationships and strengthen communities. Often engagement processes support two or all three of these objectives.


The Policy also seeks to improve Council’s engagement processes and outcomes through encouraging a consistent approach and continual learning through evaluation, and through expanding the range of engagement methods used.


The community engagement policy should be applied at the planning stage of any project or initiative, when a change in service, activities or infrastructure is considered, when an issue is raised and requires a decision or when more information or evidence is required.  Engagement may be required at multiple stages within a project, program or development.


Community engagement is the responsibility of all Council service areas, teams and employees. To ensure the effective application of engagement principles and processes, a A Community Engagement Toolkit will be developed to provide guidance for Council employees.











What is community engagement?


Community engagement is defined as the range of opportunities for public involvement in Council decision-making, relationship building and community strengthening. Community engagement is achieved when the community is and feels part of a process.


Some community engagement processes are undertaken to support decision making, some are about relationship building whilst others are focused on community strengthening (or capacity building). Often engagement processes support two or all three of these objectives.

Inform decision making

To provide opportunities for the community to contribute to decision making process


Build relationships

To build relationships and/or improve relationships with the community


Strengthen community

To build the capacity of the community on a specific theme or issue to increase knowledge or change behaviours




Council, key stakeholders and the wider community engage with each other at different levels along a spectrum of increasing involvement. The process of community engagement is a dynamic one which means there is likely to be movement back and forth through the different levels as an engagement process is implemented.


The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) has developed the Public Participation Spectrum to demonstrate the possible types of engagement with stakeholders and communities. The spectrum below has been amended from IAP2, and shows the increasing level of community and Council involvement from the ‘inform’ end of the spectrum through to the ‘empower’ end of the spectrum.


The table below identifies each of these five levels of engagement and clearly outlines the amount of involvement from both the Council and stakeholders/community within each level. The table also the role of community members and/or stakeholders.











One way communication to provide balanced and objective information to assist understanding about something that is going to happen or has already happened.

Two way communication  process aimed at obtaining feedback on ideas, alternatives and proposals to inform our decision making.

Participatory process designed to help identify issues and views to ensure that concerns and aspirations are understood and considered.

Working together to develop an understanding of all issues and interests to work out alternatives and identify preferred collective solutions.

To build the capacity of the community to lead their own plans for change.


Role of community and/or stakeholders






Examples when this engagement level may be appropriate

E.g. In the event of an emergency

E.g. Undertaking a survey  on playground redevelopment

E.g. Seeking input from the Maroondah Environment Advisory Committee on sustainability initiatives and plans

E.g.  Stakeholder led discussions on developing community vision key directions


E.g. Building capacity skills of small business employees through skills-based training

Possible methods

•     Advertisements

•     Fact sheets

•     Newsletter

•     Public Notices

•     Social media

•     Websites


•   Focus groups

•   Public exhibition

•   Surveys


•     Workshops

•     Deliberate voting on options

•     Advisory committees

•   Consensus building

•   Participatory decision making

•   Participant led workshops

•   Facilitation of networks

•   Practical skills workshops

•   Training events



Adapted from: Bang the Table (2014). What is community engagement, exactly? Available at:,


Our commitment to the community


Council’s Community Engagement Policy is built upon a set of commitments that guide the planning, development, implementation, evaluation and continuous improvement of community engagement processes undertaken by Council.


These commitments are built upon the core values identified by the International Association for Public Participation[1] and will be undertaken in accordance with Council’s Privacy Policy.[2]


When engaging the community we will be open and accountable in our decision making process. Council commits that:

1.    We will ensure that the purpose of our engagement is clear, relevant and the methods used are well suited to generate highly effective community engagement.

2.    We will provide information that is clear, easy to understand and accessible to all people.

3.    We will proactively engage with our community in an ethical manner using a range of methods and enable everyone to have a voice on matters of importance to them. We will provide engagement opportunities that are mutually respectful, undertaken in reasonable timeframes and with a shared understanding of how the input will inform decision making processes.

4.    We will value all participants’ knowledge, expertise and experiences, acknowledging that everyone has different views and needs.

5.    We will undertake evaluation processes to continually improve our approach to community engagement.

6.    We will report back to our community in a timely manner about how their input was considered and influenced the final outcome.

7.    We will use information provided by community engagement to advocate on behalf of our community to relevant parties.




Why we engage...


Community engagement is a collaborative process that connects Council with the community in a mutually beneficial sharing of new ideas, skills, knowledge, expertise and experience.


Effective community engagement has real benefits for both Council and the community. Better identifying the priorities, needs and aspirations of our community will assist Council to improve its strategic planning and service delivery. A regular two-way conversation ensures Council is transparent, accountable and informed in its decision making which will demonstrate integrity and build trust within the community.


Where appropriate, engagement should go above and beyond legislative requirements. The information and knowledge gained through hearing a range of community perspectives assists Council to make informed decisions; develop strong partnerships and create sustainable outcomes.


The community also benefit from participating in engagement activities. Participating in engagement on matters that impact them can create a sense of belonging and connection; increase community involvement; unite and empower individuals and communities; and lead to a greater community ownership and resilience.


The knowledge, expertise and experience gained also provides Council with a foundation to advocate to other relevant parties, including Federal and State Government bodies, on issues of community importance which are out of its direct control.


In summary there are a broad range of benefits to effective and authentic community engagement, both to Council and to the community.


Some of these benefits include:

1.    Increasing community involvement and connections

2.    Developing strong relationships and partnerships with our community, leading to a shared understanding of our  community’s needs, aspirations and priorities

3.    Meeting legislative requirements[3]

4.    Providing a valuable source of evidence-based information which gives a wider perspective on issues and supports Council’s future planning and service delivery activities

5.    By supporting transparency and accountability, integrity is demonstrated and trust  built between all parties

6.    Ensuring the community’s right to assist with democratic processes

7.    Ensuring informed decision making occurs and issues are addressed

8.    Helping to inform and assist with advocacy

9.    Leading to more sustainable outcomes

10.  Building community resilience and capacity leading to community empowerment



Who we engage


Maroondah is a diverse community with a mix of people from all walks of life, with unique interest groups. Everyone has a role to play in our community so it is important that our engagement methods are accessible and broad reaching.


For the purpose of this policy:

·    the Maroondah community is defined as individuals or groups who live, work, play, visit, study, invest in or pass through Maroondah. They could share a geographical location; characteristic or interest.

·    the term ‘stakeholder’ defines our community groups or individuals who are directly impacted by, involved with, or interested in, Council’s decision making, relationship building or community strengthening processes.


Each person within our community has the potential to be a stakeholder in Council’s engagement activities.


In Maroondah, some of the stakeholder groups include:

•     Arts and culture community

•     Business and industry

•     Carers

•     Chamber of commerce

•     Children

•     Community service providers

•     Commuters

•     Emergency services

•     Environmental groups

•     Families

•     Government departments

•     Heritage groups

•     Indigenous community

•     Lesbian. gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community

•     Local, State and Federal MPs

•     Maroondah City Council employees

•     Mayor and Councillors

•     Media

•     Neighbouring Councils or other local government organisations

•     Not for profit organisations and groups

•     People experiencing homelessness

•     People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

•     People with a disability

•     Public transport user groups

•     Ratepayers

•     Residents

•     Schools, education facilities and students

•     Seniors/senior groups

•     Service groups

•     Sporting, leisure and recreational clubs and groups

•     Students

•     Visitors to Maroondah

•     Volunteers/ volunteer organisations

•     Young people


When we engage

Community engagement should take place at the planning stage of any project or initiative, when a change in service, activities or infrastructure is considered, when an issue is raised and requires a decision or when more information or evidence is required.  Engagement is likely to be undertaken at multiple stages within a project, program or development.


Circumstances that trigger engagement activities

Council will promote opportunities for the community to actively participate in the following Council processes:

·    where a proposed change to Council activities or strategic direction may significantly affect the community in terms of the economy, lifestyle, environment, wellbeing  or amenity of the municipality

·    when developing new or reviewing existing policies, strategies or plans

·    introducing a new service, discontinuing an existing service or substantially changing or reviewing a service that may significantly affect how services are provided

·    proposals for changing the way in which public space looks, is used or enjoyed

·    the community raises an issue with Council for a decision (or outcome) and there are likely to be competing community interests

·    planning and development of major projects and capital works, including public buildings, centres or other infrastructure

·    urban development/redevelopment proposals, such as structure plans, that may significantly alter the existing amenity or characteristics of an geographic area.

·    any circumstance where Council needs more information or evidence to make an informed decision.


Mandatory engagement

Whilst the Local Government Act 1989 and a range of other legislation set out minimum requirements for some specific consultations, each engagement process needs to be considered on its individual basis and merits. In many instances Council will go above and beyond the minimum requirements to gain a strong understanding of our community’s wants and needs to ensure we are achieving the best possible outcomes for our community.


Some of these specific matters include:

•     setting councillor and mayoral allowances

•     adopting the Council Plan

•     making a local law

•     changing the council’s system of land valuations for council rates

•     adopting the Annual Budget

•     declaring a special rate or a special charge

•     selling, exchanging or leasing land

•     entering into a regional library agreement

•     deviating or discontinuing a road

•     making amendments to the Planning Scheme or deliberating on planning applications under the Planning and Environment Act 1987

•     development of the Municipal Public Health Plan (Council’s Community Wellbeing Plan).

The community engagement activities of Maroondah City Council are certainly not limited to these matters.


Circumstances where Council’s engagement with the community will be limited

There are times when Council’s level of engagement with the community and key stakeholders will be limited. In certain circumstances, Council may only be able to inform the community and stakeholders of Council’s decisions and actions.


 Examples include when:

·    an immediate resolution is required

·    technical or other expertise is required

·    an initiative involves confidential or commercial information
there are clear and defined legislative responsibilities that must be met

·    developing or reviewing internal policies and procedures

·    Council is responding to an emergency

·    there is a risk to public safety


Influencing Council decision making

Where decision making is the purpose of a community engagement process, it must be identified that the final decision rests with Maroondah City Council.


Good governance is based on a belief that those impacted by a decision may have important contributions to make in a decision-making process. In planning a community engagement process, Council will determine at which levels they will engage and what corresponding commitment they will make to stakeholders and/or the community. This decision is likely to impact the nature and methods of engagement.



ATTACHMENT No: 1 - Draft Maroondah Community Engagement Policy 2015


Item  3


How we engage


There is no one-size fits all approach to community engagement activities. A variety of methods will be required to cater for the different purposes of engagement as well as the broad range of groups and individuals in the community.




The planning stage is critical to ensuring a successful and authentic engagement process. During this stage we will understand, outline and gain agreement on:

·    why are we engaging (purpose),

·    what are we trying to achieve through the process (engagement objectives), 

·    how will results be used (engagement outcomes), 

·    who we want to engage with (stakeholder analysis)

·    at what level do we wish to engage

·    how we will engage (engagement methods)

·    when do we wish to engage (timeframe)


During this stage, it is also important to consider the monitoring and evaluation steps that will be embedded into the process.




Those undertaking the community engagement activity will do so in a non judgemental and respectful way. They will follow the engagement principles as outlined in the ‘Our Commitments’ section. The following steps should be considered to ensure the activity is successful.

1.    Decide on the most appropriate ways of informing the community/target group of the planned engagement activity

2.    Organise resources including who will conduct the engagement, and the organisation of venues and catering. It is also important to consider specific needs such as transport, childcare and translation services.

3.    Invite previously identified stakeholders to participate in engagement activity.

4.    Provide information to participants in jargon free, clear English. Use case studies or examples to assist with explaining the initiative .Provide translations if required

5.    Conduct the engagement activity

6.    Promptly provide any specific feedback for other areas of Council to ensure that urgent issues are dealt with according to our customer service charter.



Following the engagement process we will report back to the community the results and outcomes of the engagement process. This will be done in a timely, accessible and informative manner so that participants understand how their involvement influenced the process, and therefore the outcome or decision.

If the engagement process is lengthy it is important that we regularly report on the project’s development to ensure the community remain engaged.



Evaluation of the engagement process will be planned at the beginning of the project so we are aware of what the outcome will be measured against. Evaluation will be continuous so that the engagement process can be adjusted should an aspect not be working well. The engagement process will be reviewed at the end to ensure we understand what happened and why. We will reflect on what did and didn’t work objectively and realistically then produce an evaluation report to share observations and recommendations.



We will take the lessons learnt throughout the project capturing them in an accessible format. Ideas for improvement of engagement will be shared across the organisation and and inform future versions of this policy and Council’s broader engagement framework.




Supporting information





Public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.



Includes individuals or groups who live, work, play, study, visit, invest in or pass through the municipality.


Community consultation

This is a form of community engagement that relates to the tools and practices used by Council to enable public involvement in decisions and actions that shape the community.


Community engagement

Refers to the range of opportunities for public involvement in Council decision making, relationship building and community strengthening. Community engagement is achieved when the community is and feels part of a process.


Community strengthening

Community strengthening refers to a sustained effort of building cohesive and inclusive communities. This process aims to increase the connectedness, active engagement and partnership among members of the community, community groups and organisations in order to enhance social, economic and environmental wellbeing.



Adherence to moral principles and conduct in undertaking a process or activity



The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is an international organisation advancing the practice of public participation. IAP2 supports people who implement or participate in public decision-making processes.



A plan outlines a detailed future course of action for Council aimed at achieving specific goals or objectives within a specific timeframe. A plan should identify roles and responsibilities along with resources that are required.



A policy sets out Council’s views with respect to a particular matter. It includes a set of principles or rules that provide a definite direction for the organisation.


Responsible governance

Effective processes for making and implementing decisions.



A strategy provides high level holistic directions for Council designed to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of one or more goals or outcomes.



IAP2 Core Values


The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is an international organisation advancing the practice of public participation. The IAP2 framework is underpinned by seven core values that are aimed at ensuring organisations make better decisions which reflect the interests and concerns of potentially affected people and entities. These values are:


1.    Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.

2.    Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.

3.    Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.

4.    Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.

5.    Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.

6.    Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.

7.    Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected



Roles and responsibilities

Community engagement is the responsibility of all Council service areas, teams and employees as appropriate to their role and function. Engagement of the community should be a core process considered by Council in the delivery of any service, development of any project or building of any relationship. The effective application of principles and processes outlined in this policy is effectively the responsibility of line management across the breadth of Council service areas and teams.



Related legislation

The objectives, roles and functions of local government in Victoria are governed by the Local Government Act 1989 (Vic.). Section 3C(3) of this Act states six core roles of a Council, being:

·    acting as a representative government by taking into account the diverse needs of the local community in decision making

·    providing leadership by establishing strategic objectives and monitoring their achievement

·    maintaining the viability of the Council by ensuring that resources are managed in a responsible and accountable manner

·    advocating the interests of the local community to other communities and governments

·    acting as a responsible partner in government by taking into account the needs of other communities

·    fostering community cohesion and encouraging active participation in civic life.


Clearly, the engagement of the community is indispensable to Council’s achievement of all six roles.


Local councils in Victoria are legally required to conduct public consultation through a prescribed process on a range of specific matters as outlined under the ‘When we engage’ section of this policy.


Providing information to and seeking feedback from the community about key local issues will also ensure that Council complies with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities 2006 (Vic.), particularly section 15 (Freedom of Expression) and section 18 (Taking Part in Public Life) of the Charter.


As a public authority, Council has an obligation to act in a way that is compatible with the human rights enshrined in the Charter.


Related policies, strategies, procedures and guidelines

All of Council’s strategic documents are linked to an Integrated Planning Framework. This framework seeks to ensure that all of Council’s activities and resources are aligned in order to meet the aspirations, needs and expectations of the Maroondah community.


Community engagement is a core process that underpins this Integrated Planning Framework and ensures that community needs and aspirations are considered in developing and implementing Council’s strategic directions and priorities.




Relationship to the Maroondah 2040 Community Vision

Community engagement processes support all of the delivery of all outcome areas identified in the Maroondah 2040 Community Vision.


In particular, principles and processes of community engagement outlined in this policy are aligned with:


Community Outcome:

A well governed and empowered community


Key Directions:


8.7 Ensure that all community members have access to, and are informed on, matters

that affect them, including the provision of tailored information for under-represented

and hard-to-reach groups


8.8 Undertake inclusive engagement and consultation using accessible and tailored

approaches to consider the needs and aspirations of different age and population



8.9 Create opportunities for shared decision making through active community involvement


8.10 Work in partnership to advocate for and champion the needs and aspirations of the community to other levels of government, service providers and the business sector


8.11 Foster a Council culture of collaboration and partnerships with individuals, community groups, businesses, service providers and other levels of government


8.13 Encourage individuals, groups and organisations to proactively connect with and contribute to their local community


8.14 Work in partnership to deliver services that recognise and are responsive to the interests and needs of the community


Priority Actions

Establish a best practice community engagement framework and build the capacity of Council and its partners




Privacy Policy


Council is committed to protecting the personal privacy of residents and ratepayers. To provide services, all

Councils are required to collect and use personal, confidential and sensitive information of individuals.

Maroondah is required to balance the rights of individuals to have controls over the use of their personal

information to that of ensuring that the right information is available for services to operate and function.


Maroondah City Council has adopted a Privacy Policy to regulate the use and access by Council to the

personal information and health information that it collects from both its residents and clients. This policy applies to all community engagement activities undertaken by Council.


This policy was last revised in July 2009 and is available on Council website:

[1] The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is an international organisation advancing the practice of public participation.

[2] See ‘Supporting Information’ section for more details on Council’s Privacy Policy


[3] Please see page 9 for further details on mandatory legislative engagement requirements