A Guide to Effective Community Engagement by lindahy

VIEWS: 124 PAGES: 24

More Info
									A Guide to Effective
Community Engagement

Community Engagement Unit
Strategic and Executive Services
Executive Summary
  Community engagement is the two-way exchange of information between the Department of
  Emergency Services and the community before a policy or service delivery decision has been made.

  It is an open and accountable process which enables individuals and groups to participate in
  decision-making processes and influence the outcomes of a policy or decision.

  Community consultation is one of the major components of any engagement strategy. It can be a
  valuable tool for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of services, and ensuring that decision
  makers stay in touch with the community.

  This Guide to Effective Community Engagement provides Emergency Services staff with advice and
  guidelines on effective community engagement and consultation practices.

  It is presented in two chapters – Community Engagement and Internal Consultation.

  The first chapter, Community Engagement, clearly defines the principles of community engagement
  and features the following resources:
  n  A comprehensive checklist for those preparing to undertake a community consultation program.
  n  A community consultation strategy outline.
  n  A range of consultation techniques and implementation methods.
  n  Processes to evaluate community engagement strategies.
  n  A list of websites featuring further useful information on community engagement and
     consultation strategies.

  The second chapter, Internal Consultation, features the following resources to assist operational
  managers in proposing service delivery initiatives to improve the internal consultation and approval
  processes of this agency.
  n  A business plan outline.
  n  A framework for an information booklet or a powerpoint presentation to support the service
     delivery proposal.

  While this guide will provide Emergency Services staff with important guidelines and tools for
  community engagement and consultation, it should be noted that the process needs to remain
  flexible, and requires tailoring to the specific initiative and needs of the community and stakeholders
Table of contents

     Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 4

     Chapter 1: Community Engagement .................................................................................... 5

           Why engage the community? ......................................................................................... 5
           What issues require community engagement? ............................................................... 5
           What community engagement resources already exist? .................................................. 5
           Community engagement planning checklist .................................................................. 6
           Community engagement strategy ................................................................................. 8
           Methods of engagement .............................................................................................. 10
           Choosing a method ..................................................................................................... 10
           Risk and issues management ...................................................................................... 16
           Evaluation processes .................................................................................................. 17

     Chapter 2: Internal Consultation ...................................................................................... 18

           Business plan outline .................................................................................................. 19
           Framework for presentations ...................................................................................... 20

     Summary ........................................................................................................................ 22
                                                             A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

      Community engagement is no longer an optional extra for Government agencies. It should be the
      centrepiece for effective democratic practice, service delivery decisions and policy development.

      Consulting elements of the community in a symbolic gesture at the end of the decision-making
      process is no longer acceptable.

      While there is increasing expectation by the public to participate in Government decision making, the
      Department of Emergency Services also values the improved learning opportunities presented by
      effective community engagement.

      Innovative approaches to engagement are required across the agency, along with relevant training in
      consultation and communication techniques by staff working in communities.

      Government agencies are moving away from the traditional methods to consult the community, such
      as surveys, opinion polls and public meetings. Increasingly, they are using innovative methods such
      as focus groups, citizens’ juries and interactive websites.

      However, the key to success is matching the methods of consultation with the purpose of the exercise
4     and the community in question, and then implementing the chosen methods in a planned and
      competent manner.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

Chapter 1: Community Engagement
      This chapter features a range of guidelines and resources to assist Emergency Services staff in
      developing and implementing community engagement strategies.

      Why should Emergency Services engage the community?
      For the Department of Emergency Services, there are a number of advantages in consulting the
      community before making a policy or service delivery decision. These include:
      n   building a cooperative and responsive relationship between the Department and community;
      n   exploring a range of solutions by all stakeholders;
      n   learning more about each other’s roles and constraints;
      n   maximising ownership of issues and decisions;
      n   ensuring appropriate policies or services are developed through a consultation process which
          clearly identifies the community’s needs; and
      n   enabling the Department to understand the full range of impacts of a proposed initiative.

      Some concerns have been raised that community engagement by Emergency Services may increase
      public expectation to levels that cannot be met. However, that will not happen if the community
      engagement strategy is properly planned and delivered.

      If there are constraints on what can be done, regarding decisions and final outcomes, it is important to
      clearly state those at the start of the process. Any constraints should be supported by valid reasons.

      Community consultation should not be so late in the life of an issue that it is simply tokenistic, or
      merely confirms decisions already made.

      Consultation should occur when the community has the best chance of influencing outcomes.
      Consultation participants need enough time to express their views, and enough time to receive
      feedback on any outcomes.

      What issues require community engagement?
      There are certain issues which require community engagement. The following list can be used as a
      guide to assist in deciding which issues require community engagement:
      n  The issue directly affects a significant group in the community.
      n  The proposal will significantly affect the levels of service to the community.
      n  A significant number of people, or particular groups, are likely to have strong views on the issue,
         including staff or volunteers.
      n  The Department has insufficient information on which to make an informed decision about an
         issue affecting a number of people.

      What community engagement resources already exist?
      The Department has been engaging the community on various levels for some time through the
      Emergency Services Advisory Council, statewide Local Ambulance Committees, Rural Fire Council, SES
      Volunteer Executive Committee, and an extensive volunteer network.

      This Community Engagement Resource Kit will further support the work of those groups and promote the
      value of community participation in the planning and policy development processes of this agency.
                                                           A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

    Community engagement planning checklist
    Community consultation is a vital component of any community engagement strategy. There are four
    levels of consultation contributing to the engagement process. They are:
    1. Information sharing.
    2. Response seeking.
    3. Community input into planning.
    4. Cooperative decision making and planning.

    Effective community consultation is about partnerships. Any community consultation process should
    be underpinned by a clear mutual understanding of the issue, objectives, purpose and expectations.
    This requires concise definition of the subject of the consultation, reasons for consultation and the

    The agenda and process should be responsive and flexible, and any constraints should be
    highlighted from the outset. Constraints should be supported by clear, valid reasons.

    Effective consultation will not necessarily always lead to agreement. However, it should lead to a

6   better understanding of the position of the participants and the rationale for the final decision.

    This section provides a checklist of questions to be addressed during the engagement planning

    Community engagement undertaken by the Department of Emergency Services staff and volunteers
    will generally include most elements contained in this checklist.

    1. Identify the issue.
       n  What requires consultation?
       n  What needs to be discussed and decided?
       n  Are there any anticipated contentious issues?
       n  What are the genuinely non-negotiable issues?

    2. Define the objectives.
       n   What are the objectives of the consultation?
       n   What information is being sought from the consultation?
       n   What are the limits of the consultation?
       n   Is consensus decision making a goal?

    3. Identify the participants.
       n  Who are the stakeholders?
       n  Who should be consulted?
       n  Do specific population groups need to be targeted (eg the elderly, youth, people with
          disabilities, Indigenous Australians or people from a non-English speaking background)?
       n  What level of internal consultation is required?

    4. Choose the techniques.
       n  What techniques should be used (refer to section titled Methods of Engagement)?
       n  Are the chosen techniques most appropriate to the objectives and the participants?
       n  Have non-traditional techniques been considered?
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

      5. Delivery techniques.
         n   What background information, data, maps and research are required for participants?
         n   What formats are appropriate for conveying information to participants (eg pamphlets,
             letters, powerpoint presentations, media stories or advertisements etc)?
         n   Is written information concise, consistent and in appropriate formats?
         n   Have jargon and technical terms been minimised and fully explained where necessary?

      6. Quality control.
         n  Do those leading the consultation process have effective communication, negotiation and
            analytical skills?
         n  Would using a facilitator assist in the consultation process?
         n  What process will be followed in the event of conflict?
         n  What level of consultation is required if a major issues arises during the engagement process?

      7. Maximise the ability of stakeholders to participate.
         n  What are the possible constraints to participation and the means to overcome them?
         n  What are the most appropriate methods to invite participation?
         n  Have special interest groups been considered?
         n  Has support and advice been obtained from community leaders or organisations on protocol
            for consulting with Indigenous Australian communities?                                           7
      8. Formulate the timetable.
         n  Is the consultation a one-off process, or is it ongoing?
         n  Is the timetable realistic?
         n  What are the time constraints?

      9. Estimate the resources.
         n   What resources and staff are required?
         n   Is there a need for staff training?
         n   Is there a need for external personnel (eg a facilitator or mediator)?
         n   Is there a need to hire a venue, organise catering etc?
         n   Is there an opportunity to collaborate with other divisions or Government agencies?

      10. Outcomes and implementation.
          n  Are the outcomes clearly defined?
          n  How will decisions reached through consultation be implemented?
          n  What are the approval processes?

      11. Feedback.
          n  How will the outcomes of consultation be conveyed to participants?
          n  How will the outcomes be conveyed, where relevant, to Executive Management, the Director-
             General and the Minister?
          n  How will the outcomes be conveyed to staff, stakeholders and the general community?

      12. Evaluation.
          n  Has an evaluation process been developed (refer to section titled Evaluating Processes)?
          n  How will a successful consultation process be defined and measured?
                                                           A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

    Community engagement strategy
    Before considering a community engagement strategy, decide what it is that you want from the

    Firstly, are you informing, reporting back or sharing information about a policy, service delivery
    initiative or any other Emergency Services issue?

    If the answer is ‘yes’, then you do not need to consult. You need simply to plan an information
    program aimed at informing relevant groups or stakeholders in the community.

    Secondly, are you:
    n  Seeking involvement in planning and designing?
    n  Seeking feedback on current policy or future levels of service?
    n  Obtaining information in order to make informed decisions about an Emergency Services
       initiative that affects the community?

    If the answer is ‘yes’, you will need to plan consultation. You need to be open and transparent about

8   which parts of the issue can and cannot be negotiated or influenced by the consultation.

    To ensure effective and inclusive consultation, the following also needs to be considered:
    n   Those who conduct the consultation should be fair and impartial.
    n   Those who facilitate workshops and public forums are well trained for the role.
    n   The venues and times for consultation allow maximum participation, taking into account issues
        such as location and access.

    There should be a reporting process in place to ensure relevant executive management and media/
    communication staff are briefed on issues as they arise throughout the engagement process.

    Following is a community engagement strategy outline:

    Executive Summary
    Detail the objectives of the community engagement strategy.

    n   Provide any relevant information regarding service delivery in the area to be affected by the
        community engagement strategy.
    n   Outline any previous consultation that has been undertaken by Emergency Services in the area in
        the past.
    n   Outline any recent changes to service delivery in the area.
    n   Provide details of any formal communication between the community to be affected and the
        Department in the past, such as Ministerial correspondence.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

n    Detail any relevant community perceptions regarding service delivery in the area to be affected by
     the community engagement strategy.
n    Outline any related issues expected to be raised by staff and volunteers.
n    Provide details of local political support for the community engagement proposal.
n    Detail what conflict, if any, is anticipated.

Provide a list of key stakeholders which should be consulted during the community engagement
process. That list may include, where relevant, the following stakeholders:

External stakeholders
1.   Local Parliamentary Member
2.   Local Government Mayor, CEO and any relevant councillors.
3.   Staff and volunteers to be impacted
4.   Major business and industry stakeholders
5.   Major community organisations
6.   General community, representative groups or special needs groups
7.   Union representatives
Internal stakeholders
1.   Minister and Ministerial staff
2.   Director-General
3.   Divisional heads
4.   Other divisions which may be impacted
5.   Industrial relations staff
6.   Relevant divisional media/communication units

Engagement methods
n    Outline the planned methods of community engagement (refer to section titled Methods of
n    The method should match the nature of the issue and the requirements of the stakeholder.

Provide a short summary of the community engagement strategy, implementation timeframes, and
evaluation processes.
                                                             A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

     Methods of Engagement
     The decision regarding what methods of engagement to use should be made early in the planning
     process, perhaps in collaboration with key stakeholders, and be based on a clear rationale for the
     involvement of particular groups.

     The outcome of the consultation will be influenced by the methods used and the effectiveness of
     planning undertaken.

     Methods may need to be adjusted to effectively engage specific groups. For example, Aboriginal and
     Torres Strait Islander people, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people with
     disabilities, older people and young people.

     Keep in mind that some consultation techniques may not be suitable for issues where strong feeling
     already exists. For example, having a public meeting about the planned closure of an ambulance or
     fire station is unlikely to produce any effective debate. Techniques that are participative and
     deliberative – such as citizens’ juries – can be much more useful for tackling controversial issues.

10   There is little point in consulting unless the exercise is designed and carried out in such a way that
     the results will be valid and the intended decision can be influenced by the result of the consultation.

     Importantly, feedback is a vital part of the consultation process. It is important for the feedback to be
     honest, especially if the stakeholders are critical, or when the agency has decided to do something a
     majority of the stakeholders do not support.

     Choosing a method
     The first part of this section lists methods and their application to particular levels of engagement,
     from information sharing through to cooperative decision making. The second part expands on a
     selection of those methods and supplies more information and a list of useful resources.

     Although no single method is more effective than another, it is essential that the method chosen
     matches the needs of the community and stakeholders involved, and the objectives of the
     engagement process.

     The choice of method, or methods, will be influenced by factors such as:

     n   objectives of the engagement process;
     n   appropriateness of the method to particular stakeholder groups (people from a non-English
         speaking background, Indigenous Ausutralians, young people, people with disabilities, and older
     n   available resources (money and time);
     n   type of information required (qualitative and/or quantitative);
     n   level of participation being sought;
     n   size and nature of the community; and
     n   how the community indicates it wants to be engaged.

     Engagement strategies are most effective when a combination of engagement methods is used.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

 Process                        Useful Methods
 Information sharing -          n   flyers or mail-outs
 informing the community of     n   articles or advertisements in the local newspaper or electronic
 potential issues.                  media
                                n   brochures or newsletters
                                n   presentations to local social, sporting or community group
                                n   presentations at stakeholder meetings
                                n   displays in public places such as libraries or town halls, or at
                                    community events
                                n   community meetings
                                n   information on websites
                                n   fact sheets or question and answer sheets
                                n   issues/discussion papers
                                n   telephone hotline number

 Seeking response - seeking a   n   surveys or interviews
 community response                 interactive websites

 regarding a specific issue.    n   focus groups
                                n   reference groups
                                n   brochures or newsletters with a tear-off response sheet
                                n   shop fronts
                                n   open days
                                n   roadshows
                                n   presentations with question and answer sessions ·
                                    feedback forms or questionnaires
                                n   community meetings
                                n   telephone polls
                                n   door-to-door canvassing

 Community input into           n   stakeholder meetings
 planning and policy making -   n   seminars or workshops
 ensuring the concerns of the   n   advisory committees or taskforces
 community are considered in    n   citizens’ juries
 major decisions.               n   steering committees
                                n   search conferences

 Cooperative decision making    n   This demands more complex processes, including integrating
 and implementation - working       many of the above methods.
 much more collaboratively      n   Information sharing and response-seeking methods may be
 with the community and             used to begin the process. More interactive methods, such as
 stakeholders.                      workshops, citizens’ juries or advisory committees can then be
                                    used to facilitate the partnership between the Department and
                                    the community.
                                                            A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

     The Department of Emergency Services uses surveys to gather information from both internal and
     external stakeholders. Surveys consist of a series of questions put to respondents and delivered in a
     variety of formats including face-to-face, over the phone, online and mail-out.

     Surveys are used to gather specific responses to specific issues. They are usually applied to a
     representative sample, which has been randomly selected from a population or community.

     They are often used to gather demographic data, gauge community attitudes and expectations,
     determine levels of customer satisfaction, or measure community understanding of an issue.

     Surveys can be employed to gather quantitative data by using ‘yes/no’ questions, a rating scale or
     multiple-choice. Qualitative information can be gathered by using questions that require a general

12   Surveys can be used as the first step in a complex community engagement process. Combining them
     with other methods can increase their effectiveness. Used in conjunction with a focus group or
     community workshop, a survey can be used to identify issues, provoke discussion or provide

     n  An efficient method of gathering information relatively quickly.
     n   Can be repeated and used to establish benchmarks, or used to compare performance against
         other benchmarks.
     n   Can be useful in determining what the “silent majority” thinks rather than just vocal interest
     n   Respondents can remain anonymous allowing information to be gathered on sensitive issues.
     n   A less subjective method that is more transparent and accountable than others.
     n   Can be used before and after a process to evaluate its effectiveness.

     n  Surveys are of limited use when the engagement process is seeking information about more
         complex issues, or where discussion and clarification of views is required.
     n   Analysing responses to general response questions generally requires a great deal more time and
         resources than questions requiring a ‘yes/no’ answer.
     n   To gather valid information, surveys need to be constructed by someone with the relevant skills
         and knowledge.
     n   Validity can be diminished by poor question design, inferior sampling methods or reduced
         response rates.
     n   Questions are open to misinterpretation.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

      Focus Groups
      Focus groups are in-depth consultation with small groups of selected participants. Group
      participants are usually selected on the basis of some common characteristic. A facilitator or
      moderator is required to stimulate the discussion and keep the group focused. Focus groups are
      generally used to gather more complex, qualitative data.

      Focus groups are useful when a deeper understanding of attitudes and behaviours is required. They
      provide a more interactive method of exploring issues compared to the one-way flow of information
      provided by surveys.

      Focus groups are not just a group of people being interviewed. The aim of a focus group is to
      generate discussion and allow participants to react to each other. It provides an opportunity to
      explore people’s attitudes and feelings.

      Unlike surveys that tend to use representative samples of communities, the composition of focus
      groups is usually based on similarities. An engagement process might utilise a number of different       13
      focus groups providing a range of perspectives. For example, an engagement process for a service
      delivery issue might use a variety of focus groups, consisting of staff, volunteers and specific
      community groups such as the elderly, the young, Indigenous Australians and people from non-
      English speaking backgrounds.

      The optimum size of a focus group is 6 to 12 participants – too small and the group might be
      dominated by a few, too large and the group loses focus and participants may become frustrated.

      Focus groups usually meet for one to two hours. Any longer and results could start to diminish.

      n  Focus groups can be an effective method of gathering the views of target groups and groups that
          are traditionally hard to engage (eg the young or the elderly).
      n   Participants do not require an adequate level of literacy, as with surveys.
      n   Unanticipated, important issues may arise out of a focus group’s discussion.
      n   They can provide a variety of different perspectives and interpretations of an issue.
      n   Focus groups do not require complex sampling processes.

      n  It is difficult to compare the results from different focus groups in the same quantitative way you
          can with properly administered surveys.
      n   Because the participants are not representative of the community, the results cannot be
      n   Focus groups are dependant on the skill of the facilitator.
                                                             A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

     Community Meetings
     Community meetings are a widely used, traditional form of consultation. They are usually promoted
     through open invitations to the community to attend a venue to discuss an issue. The agenda may be
     set beforehand, but typically discussion will focus on issues raised during the meeting.

     Despite their wide use and the expectation that a community meeting should be part of a
     consultation process, community meetings are not always a productive method to use.

     A community meeting can be a useful means of sharing information with large groups in the
     community, but have limited use in gathering information, particularly in relation to a controversial

     The decision to use a community meeting should be made carefully. Consideration should be given
     to more deliberative and participative methods of engagement, especially if the goal is effective
     interaction with the public.
     A skilled facilitator or mediator may be essential.

     n  Community meetings are useful for communicating information to large groups.
     n   They can be conducted at local venues at a time convenient to the community.
     n   It can be a relatively inexpensive method and can be organised quickly.
     n   Meeting outcomes can be reported in the local media, which then reaches those who did not
     n   They can be a way of letting the community vent its anger about an issue.

     n  Most community meetings tend to attract a narrow section of the community and, therefore, are
         not usually representative of the wider community.
     n   They can often concentrate negative feeling into one forum.
     n   The audience often has little real chance to contribute.
     n   Often participants can be intimidated by louder, more vocal people and not speak up.
     n   Organised opposition groups can hijack the agenda.
     n   Turnout is often poor unless the issue is controversial.
     n   If the meeting is confrontational, it can lead to bad publicity.
     n   The meeting can be difficult to manage when the issues are emotive.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

      Citizens’ Juries
      In a citizens’ jury, participants are brought together to deliberate about an issue in an informed way.
      Participants are randomly selected. Juries usually consist of around 12 participants who are given
      written evidence to consider before the jury meets. The topic to be considered is clearly defined.
      “Witnesses” are recruited for both sides. The length of deliberation depends on the issue involved.
      The jury cross-examines the witnesses and deliberates before reaching a decision. The jury issues its
      findings in a report.

      Citizens’ juries are useful for involving the community in complex or controversial issues. They can be
      used when the question or questions to be deliberated are known in advance. They can increase the
      level of knowledge and debate in the community about an issue.

      By their nature, citizens’ juries increase the capacity of the participants to debate the issues at a
      higher level, while still providing a community perspective.

      Citizens’ juries can be used promote consensus building. If a jury’s findings are not acted upon,         15
      justification for this must be given.

      n  Citizens’ juries encourage and develop a more informed debate, while maintaining a community
      n   They allow for more in-depth analysis and deliberation of issues.
      n   The jury can examine the “witnesses” to ensure that all questions are answered.
      n   The use of witnesses from both sides ensures fair treatment of the issues.
      n   Citizens’ juries provide a more interactive process that provides tangible results.
      n   They can involve the community in significant and complex decision-making.
      n   They provide a forum of people representative of the community.
      n   It is an open and accountable method.

      n   A citizens’ jury may need to be preceded by other methods to uncover and clarify the issues and
          questions to be deliberated.
      n   Citizens’ juries usually require a greater commitment of time and resources.
      n   They require more planning time and effort, especially in the selection of jurors and witnesses.
      n   They usually require an independent and skilled facilitator.
      n   Because of the size of the jury, it may be difficult to include all stakeholder groups.
                                                            A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

     Risk and Issues Management
     Risk and issues management necessitates being aware of what is happening both internally and
     externally and being proactive in addressing issues before they become matters of concern.

     Issues should be identified, where possible, in the planning stages of the community engagement
     strategy. The success of the engagement strategy could depend on how early those issues are
     identified and managed.

     Issues emerging during various stages of the process should also be monitored, with the aim of
     avoiding unnecessary conflict and achieving the best possible outcomes.

     The benefits of effective risk and issues management are:
     n   greater awareness of risk exposure;
     n   more efficient use of resources;
     n   more effective contingency planning;
     n   enhanced decision making;
     n   better identification of opportunities; and
16   n   a reduced incidence of undesirable outcomes.

     Ongoing communication between the manager of the community engagement strategy, Ministerial
     staff, the Director-General, divisional heads, where relevant, will ensure any risks are addressed

     The Department of Emergency Services’ media and communications units should be well briefed on
     any planned community engagement process.

     Unit managers should be kept informed of any negative issues arising throughout the process. They
     will provide advice on dealing with such issues.

     Where suitable, print and electronic media strategies can be incorporated in an engagement process
     to directly reach a large number of stakeholders.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

      Evaluation Processes
      It is important that the consultation process itself is evaluated to identify the strengths and
      weaknesses in the overall community engagement process. This will provide information on which
      aspects of the process have been less effective so that these can be modified for future processes.

      Evaluation needs to test the achievements of the objectives of each engagement process, as well as
      assessing how stakeholders perceived the effectiveness of the process.

      The evaluation process should be identified at the start of engagement and include mechanisms
      which will allow for review and modification throughout the process.

      Some questions to consider as part of the evaluation:

      n   How could it have been done better?
      n   Was the method and the information provided appropriate to the participants’ needs?
      n   Did any of the participants complain about the process? Why? Were these complaints valid? What
          could we have done to avoid those complaints?
      n   Were any strengths identified?                                                                     17
      n   What skills were lacking?
      n   What skills were discovered?
      n   Would a facilitator or community engagement specialist improve future processes?
      n   Even if stakeholders or members of the community did not get the result they hoped for, are they
          satisfied they were heard and their views considered?

      It may be appropriate to hand out evaluation forms to consultation participants in meetings and
      workshops. Analyse and use the results to improve your planning and skills in the future.
                                                               A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

     Chapter 1: Internal Consultation
       Innovation and flexibility are keys to the sustainability of any service-oriented organisation.

       While the Department of Emergency Services already plays a vital role in every Queensland
       community, there are increasing opportunities for service enhancements, integration of resources,
       and improved collaboration by the Department’s operational divisions.

       The development of proposals for new or changed service delivery initiatives has become part of the
       day-to-day business of the operational divisions.

       The success of any proposal and subsequent implementation is dependant on many factors, perhaps
       the most crucial of which is a comprehensive internal consultation strategy.

       An effective internal consultation strategy can achieve widespread support for service delivery
       changes and should:
       n  clearly define the advantages and disadvantages of any service delivery initiative;
       n   identify impacts on the agency, staff and volunteers, the community and other stakeholders;
       n   identify and address potential risks and issues; and
       n   incorporate a process to inform the Department’s Executive Management, the Director-General,
18         the Minister, and staff and volunteers.

       Any service delivery proposal should also examine opportunities for integration of the agency’s
       resources and collaboration between the agency’s operational divisions, and include a
       comprehensive business plan.

       This chapter has been produced to assist operational managers in fire, ambulance and counter
       disaster and rescue services in developing proposals for service delivery changes. It promotes a
       coordinated approach to service delivery changes across the agency, and aims to foster an agency-
       wide commitment to continued learning.

       The tools in this chapter aims to improve the success rate of service delivery proposals by providing
       the Department’s Executive Management, the Director-General and the Minister with all the relevant
       information required to make an informed decision. They will also promote a more coordinated
       approach to service delivery proposals across the agency.

       Business plan outline
       The rate of success of new service delivery initiatives proposed by the Department of Emergency
       Services’ operational divisions can be improved through better planning practices.

       A comprehensive business plan should be the cornerstone of any service delivery proposal and be
       used as a blueprint for planners and managers.

       The benefits of developing a business plan to support proposed service delivery initiatives include
       more informed decision making at all levels. The business plan will provide information to support
       the development of a community engagement strategy.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

      While a business plan will clearly identify the advantages of a service delivery proposal, it will
      also establish a system of checks and balances to identify any potential issues, and set up
      benchmarks to ensure the proposal is successfully implemented.

      Finally, it will give decision makers all the relevant information required to make an informed
      decision about whether to proceed with the proposal.

      Business plan format
      Below are some suggested headings for use in designing a business plan. They support the
      three main issues to be addressed by a service delivery proposal:
      1. What will be the impact on existing service delivery?
      2. Is the service delivery proposal operationally sound?
      3. Is the proposal financially viable?

      Executive Summary
      n   Provide a concise summary of what is included in the business plan.
      n   Provide an overview of the service delivery proposal.
      n   Provide details on the project team managing the proposal.                                       19
      n   Outline the proposed timeframes for implementation of the proposal, including sufficient
          time for a supporting consultation process where relevant.

      n   Provide reasons for the proposed service delivery change. This should include a clear
          summary of any service delivery history in the area being targeted by the proposed change.
          Relevant supporting documentation should be attached as an appendix to the business
      n   Provide details of any consultation on service delivery in the targeted area to date.
      n   Highlight any relevant political or agency issues existing in the targeted area.

      Impact on service delivery
      n   Provide details of the existing levels of service delivery in the targeted area.
      n   Provide details on any improvement or reduction in service delivery which would occur as a
          result of the implementation of the proposal.

      Operational implications
      n   Maps which feature the targeted area and relevant information, such as operational
          response areas, levy boundaries, and the location of existing or proposed facilities should
          be provided as supporting documents with the business plan.
      n   Clearly identify impacts on other Emergency Services’ operational services provided by
          permanent or part-time staff or volunteers in the area.
      n   Outline implications for existing Emergency Services’ facilities and equipment in the area.
                                                           A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

     Financial implications
     Provide full details of any revenue implications, such as capital funding requirements; revenue from
     proposed property sales; levy boundary changes; changes in salaries; and proposed savings on
     recurrent costs.

     n   Highlight any identified negative impact on the community, stakeholders, local politicians, staff
         or volunteers.
     n   Highlight any known public perceptions which may impact on the proposal.

     Provide a list of key stakeholders in relation to the proposed service delivery proposal for
     incorporation into a comprehensive engagement strategy which can be developed in support of the
     business plan.

     Summarise the business plan and service delivery proposal in a couple of paragraphs. Provide
20   details, where relevant, of plans to develop a supporting consultation strategy and communication
     plan to assist with the implementation of the service delivery proposal.

     Framework for a Presentation
     The following outlines provides a guide for the development of an information booklet and
     powerpoint presentation to support a service delivery initiative.

     The objective of the booklet and presentation is to provide information about a proposed service
     delivery change to internal stakeholders and, where appropriate, external stakeholders or
     stakeholder groups.

     Remember to keep the information clear, concise, consistent and relevant.

     Service delivery change

     n   Provide your audience with an outline of what you will be presenting.
     n   Audiences remember the beginning and end of a presentation – an outline of what you will be
         presenting can be an effective opening.

     What is happening?
     n   Provide details of what is happening.
     n   Use plain English – avoid technical or operational jargon.
     n   Don’t confuse the audience with too much information – keep it relevant and consistent.
A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

             Why is it happening?
             n   Provide an explanation of why the change is occurring.
             n   The audience will want a clear understanding of the reasons for the change.
             n   Maps, graphs or diagrams can help – make sure they are clear, consistent and relevant.
             n   You might be able to include options that have been considered and why they have been

             What are the impacts?
             n   Provide details on the likely impact/s of the change.
             n   Be honest, don’t try to hide or diminish the impact/s.
             n   Include the likely benefits or improvements to service delivery.
             n   The audience will want to know how the change is likely to affect them personally.

             When is it happening?
             n   If possible, provide a timetable for the change.

             What will happen in the future?
             n   If possible, detail plans for future service delivery in the affected area.
             n   A summary of the main points is an effective way to conclude the presentation.
                                                            A Guide for Effective Community Engagement

      The Department of Emergency Services is committed to continually improving its community
      engagement practices. Effective engagement improves the quality of decisions and is an important
      part of being responsive to community and stakeholder needs.

      Increased opportunities for information sharing, consultation and active participation will bring the
      Department and the community together to enhance planning and decision-making processes, and
      provide better solutions for communities.

      For more information on this Community Engagement Resource Kit contact the Community
      Engagement Unit, GPO Box 1425, Brisbane 4001, (07) 3109 5012.

A Guide for Effective Community Engagement


To top