Choosing the best method or a combination of methods is a crucial step in designing an effective consultation plan.
The method will vary according to the project, policy, plan or issue that requires input.
To assist we have grouped the sorts of activities on which local governments typically need feedback and matched them with methods that are always, often and occasionally appropriate to these.
Activities are grouped as follows:
This covers the major strategic exercises that councils undertake, including council or community plans, budget/long term financial plans, municipal public health plans, municipal strategic statements and community building or neighbourhood renewal projects.
They are municipal-wide and present complex consultation challenges. Consultation approaches on these issues go well beyond placing statutory advertisements, which at best serve to notify people who read them that the issue is under consideration.
Community building and neighbourhood renewal activities are included under this broad category. In this context, they relate to a whole-of-municipality initiative and can differ in approach (whether it is focused geographically or demographically) and governance arrangements (local government, state or commonwealth funded or combination of these).
This group includes policy and strategy development on issues that impact particular groups and/or areas and can include positioning policies such as a drug strategy to strategic plans, for example an older residents plan.
Services and operational issues are the focus of this category. It includes all service reviews, such as those undertaken for best value and planning activities.
Issues that relate to a particular site/s make up this group. It includes statutory building and planning matters and council developments.
This group is made up of council-wide and individual service/issue assessments of council performance (often known as council satisfaction surveys).