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Top 10 Quotes on Community Engagement in South Australia: Community Alliance SA

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After the Community Alliance formed, our many member groups spent a lot of time, and used a lot of butchers’ paper, coming up with what we call our ‘Platform for Change’.  It included statements on the reforms and processes we want in order to bring about genuine community engagement, such as “Community Alliance SA is calling for reform based on a genuine partnership between communities, government and the development sector” and “Our goal is the establishment of a planning and development system that engages all parties in an open, transparent, accountable and sustainable process from the initial design concept through to implementation”.

The two of us recently attended a ‘Stakeholder Engagement’ workshop held by Becky Hirst.  This helped us to understand how a good engagement process works.  One of the most exciting aspects of being part of this workshop was that we were representatives of the ‘other side’, members of the actual community that governmental bodies need to engage with.

Of everything we learnt from Becky, the most crucial and informative was the description of the different levels of engagement from informing, consulting, involving and collaborating to empowering.

This and the other knowledge we gained will help us to better focus on the kind of engagement required and will, of course, help us advocate for what we and our group members want!  The workshop also helped us understand the difficulties involved in carrying out really good engagement practices.

The Community Alliance recently held a public forum on the planning and development system in South Australia.  We were heartened by the recognition so many of the politicians and experts gave to the need to involve and truly engage the community. These are our top ten quotes on community engagement from the forum (in no particular order) –

1. “Communities need to be informed and engaged so that they can in turn inform and engage government”
Nick Xenophon, Independent Federal Senator

2. “Rob Crocker (Secretary of the Community Alliance SA), and all of the Alliance, I would like to recognise you for being so passionate about people and place”
Vickie Chapman MP, Deputy Leader Liberal Party and Shadow Planning Minister

3. “Respectful engagement with local people can lead to a better outcomes and is a fundamental part of our democracy.  These are decisions that affect your lives and your neighbourhoods”.
Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader Greens SA

4. “I do think it is critical that we find a way to ensure communities are more embedded in the (planning) process and I do agree with this objective”
John Rau MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning

5. “The current system of public consultation is terribly inadequate.  There is a lack of genuine public engagement”.
Prof Rob Fowler, President Conservation Council SA

6. “You have to engage the public from day one”.
Kevin O’Leary, Adelaide-based planning expert

7. “Engagement is one of the areas that we would love to do more work in…..that is one of the reasons we are here tonight”.
John Hanlon, Chief Executive, Dept Planning Transport & Infrastructure

8. “I am all in favour of conflict.  Unless you listen to dissenting voices and what they are saying, we are not going to achieve the outcomes that South Australia deserves”.
Dr Iris Iwanicki, President Planning Institute of Australia SA

9. “You will not get an engaged public unless you give options.  This is a fundamental ingredient of a good planning document”.
Kevin O’Leary, Adelaide-based planning expert 

10. “The best way to address social planning is to sit in the community space and listen”.
Dr Iris Iwanicki, President Planning Institute of Australia SA

With a good engagement process…..we can ‘put the people back into planning and development’.

Helen and Tom

Helen Wilmore is Treasurer and Tom Matthews is President of the Community Alliance SA, an umbrella organisation representing resident and community groups dedicated to ‘Putting the People back into Planning and Development’. Our goal is a planning and development process that is accountable, transparent and sustainable, and that guarantees genuine community consultation.

1 Comment

  • Ray May 28, 2013 - 7:53 am Reply

    Some great comments from people who matter and can make it happen.

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