Regional councils ranked top in Qld engagement report

Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to citizen engagement with Queensland's regional councils among the highest achievers, according to a new report.

New State Government data shows size doesn't matter when it comes to community engagement – with Balonne, Banana and Maranoa regional councils among the top performers.

Minister for Local Government Desley Boyle said the data showed Queensland councils recognised the value of communication, with 90 per cent reporting they used a range of methods to keep ratepayers informed.

"The data shows councils recognise the importance of engaging with their communities as part of normal council business," Ms Boyle said.
"But the survey also shows councils have some work to do," she said.

Of the 54 councils who returned the community engagement survey 90 per cent undertook some form of formal community engagement with 52 per cent allocating specific community engagement roles and responsibilities to staff.

Almost 45 per cent of councils had a community engagement management guide in place or a consistent communications process. Only 29 per cent had developed formal community engagement policies.

"The survey shows there is room for improvement in the way community engagement is undertaken and evaluated," Ms Boyle said.

"Only a third of councils in the survey said they had developed formal community engagement policies to guide their engagement process.

"The survey shows only one in three councils had gone the next step and integrated the outcomes of their community engagement with asset management planning.

"These factors add up to lost opportunities which could also effect the long-term financial position of the council."

Ms Boyle said having a community engagement policy in place enabled councils to identify the most effective and cost efficient ways to inform Queenslanders about different issues, as well as better inform council decision making.

"As well as looking at whether an advertisement in the local paper or a community meeting is needed, councils need to be considering community engagement in all aspects of local government business," said the Minister.

"Having a formal community engagement policy arms councils to better plan for the future."

The data will be regularly collected by the State Government to support local governments as they move to self-reporting, enabling them and their communities to compare performance and track council progress.

Regular sustainability and reporting currently applies to 58 non-Indigenous mainland councils and the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, with Ms
Boyle planning to expand this to take in all 73 local councils in Queensland in the near future.

The community engagement survey identified Queensland's best performing councils are: Balonne Shire Council; Banana Shire Council; Brisbane City Council; Bundaberg Regional Council; Cairns Regional Council; Gold Coast City Council; Ipswich City Council; Logan City Council; Mackay Regional Council; Moreton Bay Regional Council; Redland City Council; Maranoa Regional Council; Scenic Rim Regional Council; and Southern Downs Regional Council.


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