What is community and stakeholder engagement?

Community and stakeholder engagement is a term which describes the processes used to involve the community and stakeholders in decisions that affect their lives.

Quality engagement helps local governments make better decisions by incorporating the interests and concerns of affected stakeholders within the constraints faced by the organisation such as legislation, technical considerations and budget.

Community engagement can include participating at consultation workshops run by the City, being interviewed, completing paper or online surveys, or providing formal comment on a proposal, project or initiative.

Effective communication is an important part of engagement. Stakeholders need to be aware of an opportunity to provide feedback, and understand the details of the project to be able to contribute meaningfully. 

Sometimes, feedback from the community and stakeholders is not able to influence a project or decision. An example of this is when the City of Stirling is not the decision maker.

In these cases, engagement means ensuring information is available and those affected are kept informed about the decision. 

Why seek feedback when not everyone will agree with the decision?

It is true that not everyone will agree with or be happy about a decision on a project or initiative they have been consulted on. Local governments must make difficult decisions on matters that are often very complex – planning matters are an excellent example of this!

By clearly and effectively communicating information to stakeholders throughout a project, and providing genuine opportunities for input (where possible), organisations are better able to understand the views of their community and consider these when designing options or making a decision.

Communities and stakeholders who are kept in the loop have a better chance of supporting the process and understanding why the final decision has been made. This ultimately contributes to increased transparency, better relationships and more trust.

What is the purpose of a policy?

Policies are formal documents used to guide decision-making, increase accountability of organisations and ensure expectations on matters are clear to internal staff and the communities or customers they serve. Policies are used to inform procedures and other working documents used by staff. In the case of the City of Stirling, policies are endorsed by Council.