I was thrilled that my recent post about empowering communities received such positive and welcoming responses, particularly within the IAP2 Australasia LinkedIn group. Some 45 comments later, I have been left inspired by a suggestion from Fran Woodruff that the term “Have Your Say” is dead!
It’s a phrase that has really boomed during the last 5 or so years and you could certainly say that it has become a bit of a trend. Just a simple Google search of the phrase brings up pages and pages of ‘decision-makers’ using the phrase alongside their engagement activity (I stopped scrolling at page 30, but it look to continues on and on). It’s a phrase that makes sense and to be fair has brought about a much clearer marketing and communications message to promote the opportunity to get involved in civic life.
But what has really changed? Has this boom in using catchy phrases seen any greater public influence over Government decision making? Sure, the numbers are probably slightly higher but that is probably more likely due to an increase in online engagement during the same time period which has broadened (slightly) the number of people able to ‘have their say’. I checked out Google Trends for the worldwide popularity of the phrase ‘Have your say’ from 2004 until now and there’s quite a clear growth pattern!
In reflecting on the over use of the phase, Barbara Chappell said that she has long been irritated by the phrase. Quite rightly, she sees it as an ‘out’ for decision makers and a dead end for community members. So you have had your say and then what?… Barbara wants to see the shift from a parent-child relationship between Government and community to an adult-adult relationship. Hear hear!
The questions we need to ask are whether we are hearing that communities are connecting better with Government? Are we witnessing communities being heard by decision-makers once they’ve ‘had their say’? Are we seeing better, more sustainable decisions being made by Government? Hmm… I’m not so sure. What do you think?
As for me, I’m out. No more “Have your say” here. It has developed a reputation for being over used and under delivered. It’s officially banned.
Long may it rest in peace.