Nature’s Best – Let’s Plan the Rest

A significant process of connecting with the community to inform the development of a Strategic Plan
Client : District Council of Yankalilla
Date : 2020.03.01
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From October 2019 – February 2020 the District Council of Yankalilla undertook a significant process of connecting with the community to inform the development of their Strategic Management Plan 2020-2030. This process was titled Nature’s Best – Let’s Plan the Rest.

Becky Hirst was contracted to work together with Council staff to plan, deliver and report on the entire engagement process. This included working with the Chief Executive Officer to prepare an Engagement Plan for adoption by Elected Members, working with the Community Outreach Team to plan and deliver a broad range of engagement activities across the District, and to provide a comprehensive summary report of the process and its findings to assist the Council in developing their Strategic Management Plan.

A wide range of methods for genuinely and actively listening to the community were used and the Council connected with hundreds of people across their district during the process, who shared with us so many diverse opinions, needs, ideas and priorities.

Outputs included –

  • > Designing and facilitating six highly participatory Township Forums across the district, with over 230 people attending to share their priorities for the future;
  • > 300 people attending a series of What’s the Future events where the Council heard from panels of local experts who engaged in conversations about specific topics of relevance to the district;
  • > Over 400 people attending a What’s the Future of Normanville Foreshore interactive and innovative SpeakOut event;
  • > Visiting three schools in the district, engaging over 60 children and young people in conversations about the future of their district;
  • > All ratepayers received a brochure and reply-paid survey, with over 172 surveys returned;
  • > 72 people joined conversations online via Your Say Yankalilla and Council’s Facebook page.

The Council’s Mayor and Chief Executive Officer were keen to not to take a draft Strategic Plan to the community for them to comment on, but instead went to the community with a ‘blank page’, to identify shared hopes for the district that would help them to plan effectively for the future.

Through this process of connecting with the community, a series of strong priority themes began to emerge. The people who attended the Township Forums undertook a process of prioritising and naming these themes, and these provided a basis for the conversations that occurred for the rest of the process.

A “What we Heard” report was prepared which highlighted a summary of what Council heard relating to each of the priority themes. The report intended to provide a narrative overview of the breadth and depth of qualitative discussions held in relation to each of the priorities that emerged.

The major successes of this project included –

  • > Strong senior leadership buy-in from the outset, with the Mayor and CEO being actively involved and visible in the process;
  • > The commitment of Council to provide support from their Community Outreach Team in providing strong community knowledge and connections, as well as practical assistance in organising and setting up events;
  • > High participation rates from community in a non-controversial or emotive engagement topic (over 10% of the population involved) through a range of factors, including the involvement of the Community Outreach Team, community providing tips about when and where to hold meetings, positive branding and messaging and clear communications.

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COVID-19 - Becky Hirst Consulting has withdrawn all face-to-face services for the foreseeable future. We are still available to our clients for community engagement expertise, planning and evaluation; online workshop planning and facilitation; and online training and mentoring. Please get in touch to discuss your needs!
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