Sunshine Coast Council Community Engagement Framework Review, 2021

  • Project Name: Sunshine Coast Council Community Engagement Framework Review, 2021

  • Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD

Establishing excellence within a community engagement framework.

The Context

The Sunshine Coast Council has a vision for their community—’together we thrive’. As part of this vision, the council is committed to involving the community in decision-making processes and keeping the Sunshine Coast inclusive, connected and with opportunities for all to be involved. Their Community Engagement Framework was developed to set out clear and effective ways to engage with the community on matters that are important to the region.

Our team at Engagement Plus had previously designed and developed the existing Sunshine Coast Council Community Engagement Framework and Toolkit in 2012. Now, the council wanted a review of the current framework and toolkit to see where changes can and should be implemented.

The Engagement— Community Engagement Framework Review

The Sunshine Coast Council contracted with Engagement Plus to complete a strategic review of community engagement practice and revise the existing Community Engagement Framework and related Toolkit.

The Approach

We designed our review to include both internal and external engagement activities. These engagement activities helped us to gain a better understanding of the:

  • Awareness among council staff of the toolkit
  • Usefulness and practicality of the toolkit
  • Current usage
  • Adequacy of the toolkit as a resource
  • Relevance of the content in the toolkit to the Sunshine Coast context
  • Effectiveness of the tools contained within the document.

The results of the internal engagement showed us that the current framework needed an extensive rework. Working with council we decided to develop two separate documents—the revised Community Engagement Framework and the companion Toolkit.

As a first step we needed to understand how best to revise the current framework. So, we completed a significant benchmarking study reviewing twenty examples of community engagement frameworks from other local and state governments around Australia and overseas. During our review we identified some common elements and innovative practices that were being used in well-thought-out community engagement frameworks.

We utilised both this best practice review and the internal engagement outcomes to revise the current framework to bring it up to date.

The Outcomes

Sunshine Coast Council launched its Community Engagement: Excellence in Engagement Framework in March 2021. This detailed and innovative framework sets out council’s commitment to continue to advance engagement that is authentic and meaningful, and that gives each member of the community the opportunity to participate in decision making on matters that are important to them, and to the region as a whole.

Engagement Plus was instrumental in the development and revision of the Sunshine Coast Council engagement framework. We continue to remain part of the project and are currently training council staff on how to best use the revised framework and toolkit, as well.

Lessons Learned

The fantastic outcomes achieved here show how important it is to undertake regular reviews of all community engagement processes and frameworks. The revised framework gives the Sunshine Coast Council more opportunity to be visible in the community and to engage with people on issues that matter to them. It allows for increased authentic conversations and a stronger partnership between the council and the community.

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Timely reviews can help you to be sure you are advancing authentic and meaningful engagement with your stakeholders. Get in touch to see how Engagement Plus can help you today.