Community engagement resources

Our community engagement resources aim to help councils better understand the community engagement expectations of the Fair Go Rates system. These resources support the guidance material.

When applying for a higher cap, a council must show how the views of ratepayers and the community have been taken into account. We do not prescribe how councils should engage with their communities, this decision sits with councils. In an application, we expect to see evidence that a council has met our key engagement principles as set out in our guidance material.

Community engagement toolkit

The toolkit is designed to provide support to councils who are considering applying for higher caps, it includes:
  • community engagement tips for councils applying for higher caps
  • a graphic outlining key considerations when developing an engagement plan in the context of the Fair Go Rates system
  • an engagement narrative map showing how a higher cap application might demonstrate that it has met the community engagement requirements
  • case studies of council engagement on higher caps.

We do not prescribe particular tools or methods of engagement, however, we recognise that some councils may be looking for additional support. To assist, the community engagement toolkit also includes:

  • examples of community engagement tools and techniques
  • a principles-based guide to deliberative engagement in small rural councils

Toolkit documents:

Deliberation at scale: Principles and practical ideas for small rural councils
Engagement Case Studies
Engagement tips for councils
Higher cap application engagement narrative map
Key considerations when developing an engagement plan in the context of the Fair Go Rates system
Examples of engagement tools and techniques

Deliberation at scale

In the initial years of the Fair Go Rates system, the majority of applications for higher caps were from small rural councils. We have heard consistently that they have limited resources to undertake some of the more complex engagement processes undertaken by other councils in Victoria.

We do not advocate for or mandate deliberative engagement, but we are interested in supporting the sector and facilitating discussions about what might be useful for councils to better engage with their communities.

As a result, we commissioned KJA and the newDemocracy Foundation to develop resources on small-scale deliberative engagement:

Community engagement forum

In October 2017 we held a community engagement forum in Bendigo. Council staff from across Victoria came together for some insightful presentations and discussions on community engagement in the context of the Fair Go Rates system and more broadly. 

The forum aimed to ensure councils are better equipped to meet the community engagement expectations of the Fair Go Rates system, provide updates on community engagement at the state government level, and facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

We have published a Fair Go Rates System Community Engagement Forum: Summary Report that provides an overview of the forum, a summary of the key themes that emerged throughout the day, and the content generated in group workshops and via Poll Everywhere.

Videos of the presentations are available on our YouTube channel.

Presentations by local and state government representatives are available. 

Council experiences applying for higher caps – presentation by Pyrenees Shire Council
Council experiences applying for higher caps - presentation by Towong Shire Council

Public Participation and Community Engagement: Local Government Sector – presentation by Victorian Auditor-General’s Office
Developing the Victorian Government Public Engagement Framework – presentation by Department of Premier and Cabinet
Public Participation for Policy in Places – presentation by Local Government Victoria

Engagement technical working group

An engagement technical working group was established in 2016 and continues to meet regularly. We worked closely with this group to develop our community engagement toolkit and the forum. The working group's terms of reference and meeting notes are available on our website.

External resources

If you’re looking for more support with community engagement, there are many external resources to assist in developing engagement policies and plans These resources should provide some useful starting points to those seeking further tools and guidance on engagement. 

International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)

IAP2 has developed an extensive suite of resources for engagement. Its public participation spectrum is a widely-used engagement tool. On their website you will also find a searchable online resource bank which contains a wide range of resources including case studies, examples of engagement policies and plans (including from local government) and other information.

Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO)

VAGO has developed a better practice guide called Public participation in government decision-making which provides a high-level framework for agencies across the public sector to use when deciding how best to involve the public in government decision-making as well as the principles and elements that VAGO will use to audit public participation exercises. It may be a useful guide for those seeking to develop an engagement plan or strategy.

Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA)

The VLGA has worked for many years to assist local governments and their communities to work together and find ways to discuss, engage and resolve what is best for their neighbourhood.

The VLGA has recently created a deliberative democracy hub which provides a wealth of examples of the way in which deliberative approaches to community engagement, particularly citizen juries (or citizen panels), have been used in local government. Case studies are provided to illustrate the different ways in which citizen juries have been run, as part of a broader community engagement strategy, on topics such as budgets, infrastructure and planning. The hub also contains resources on the rationale behind deliberative approaches and practical considerations such as timing, design, delivery and evaluation. Updates on training opportunities can also be found on the VLGA website. 


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