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Chapter 3: Community Engagement



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Chapter 3: Community Engagement

Overview


In October and November 2014, many West Belconnen residents took the time to provided and share their thoughts and personal experiences on how services for
West Belconnen residents could be improved in the future and how a stronger feeling of community could be built.

In this initial phase, West Belconnen residents were provided several different formats to engage and share their thoughts and views, with some methods being more successful than others. The aim was to establish which of these formats of engagement and consultation were most effective, with a focus on trying to engage those members of the community who are most difficult to reach.

With this aim in mind, proposed future considerations for engagement have been provided throughout this report to support the West Belconnen Local Services Network and to assist in future consultation processes.

Consideration for future engagement:



  1. The roving community storyboards should be continued as a consultation method. It is suggested that an individual is located with the storyboard to engage in conversation with community members and encourage people contribution.

  2. Mail box drop (postcards) and newspaper advertisement were widely distributed around the West Belconnen area and provided the community with information of the Local Services Network and the different method which residents may like to contribute. It is proposed that this format was not as successful in disseminating information as initially thought. Of the two formats, the newspaper advertisement was more successful than the postcards.
  3. Social media was used to reach those individuals with Facebook and Twitter accounts. This engagement format is free of charge, is not difficult to use or time consuming and has the potential reach thousands of people. It is proposed that this method continue to be used.


  4. While neighbourhood forums provided in depth conversations and information gathering, it is proposed that future forums be limited to mid week forums rather than weekends or evenings.

  5. Targeted focus groups should be conducted throughout the Local Services Network with a particular focus on disadvantaged groups that may not attend a neighbourhood forum or other engagement formats.

  6. Based on successful examples of individual client journey mapping, it is suggested that training and support be provided to workers in the Local Services Network to build capacity for engaging hard to reach community members.

  7. Online survey should be used to provide an easy means to collect data from the community. However it should not be exclusively relied upon to provide feedback from the community as a whole.

  8. Personalised invitations to West Belconnen residents who are actively engaged and motivated to improve the outcomes for their community.

  9. Previous and new consultations relating to West Belconnen should be collated and made available for future reference, to avoid over consulting particular groups, and to ensure key themes are shared across multiple stakeholders.

  10. Child specific surveys can be of great assistance in gaining a whole of community view on service delivery and connectedness. Due to public school policies and clearance requirements, additional time is required if the surveys are to be extended to public schools.

  11. Youth specific surveys could be delivered through ACT high schools, colleges and youth services. Due to public school policies and clearance requirements, additional time is required if the surveys are to be extended to public schools.

This initial community consultation process also aimed to gauge what is of importance and concern to the community in West Belconnen, what local residents enjoy about living in this community, and what they would like to see change in West Belconnen. These conversations focused on both community building and service improvement areas.

Five key themes emerging from these conversations and are outlined at page 80 to 84 (Attachment A), along with information on how the themes may be taken forward by the Local Services Network.

Key themes outlined include:


  • Improved Services

  • Community Facilities

  • Building a Sense of Community

  • Improved Education and Employment

  • Better Transport

Engagement Activities


A variety of community engagement activities were undertaken, and while some were more successful than others, the feedback provided was constructive and consistent.

The engagement activities included:



Roving Community Storyboards were developed to reflect the current state of
West Belconnen, the desired service experience, and to provide people with the opportunity to respond to the prompt ‘Tell us your ideas for better services in West Belconnen.’

Attached to the boards were post-it notes and markers so people could quickly and easily share their feedback. The storyboards were hosted by a variety of services, including West Belconnen Child and Family Centre, Uniting Care Kippax,


Belconnen Community Service, and Canberra City Care, as well as at Kippax Fair,
the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, and several other community events in the
West Belconnen area.

Overall, feedback from the storyboards was valuable, reaching individuals we may have otherwise had difficulty consulting with, and providing insight into the ideas the community has about West Belconnen.

It is worth noting that while the boards were effective on their own, they were substantially more effective when they were accompanied by an individual who was willing to engage people in conversation about their service experience, capturing comments on the post it notes as they spoke.

At first glance many people failed to think of anything to contribute, but when asked about previous experience with services they had a whole range of valuable suggestions.



Consideration for future engagement: The Story Boards should be continued as a consultation method. It is suggested that an individual is located with the storyboard to engage in conversation with community members and encourage people contribution.





Mail box drop (postcards) and newspaper advertisement were widely distributed around the West Belconnen area and provided the community with information of the Local Services Network and the different method which residents may like to contribute. Twelve thousand postcards were dropped in West Belconnen home letter boxes that accepted ‘junk mail’. A newspaper advertisement was placed in the
Northside Chronicle Newspaper, which is delivered free of charge to those home accepting ‘junk mail’.

It is proposed that this format was not as successful in disseminating information as initially thought. Of the two formats, the newspaper advertisement was more successful than the postcards.




Consideration for future engagement: The newspaper advertisement appeared to be more successful and economically viable than the postcard and should continue to be a useful consultation method.




Social media were used to engage those individuals with Facebook and/or Twitter accounts who were linked in with the Community Services Directorate social media accounts. It is difficult to determine the number of people which this method reached and engaged with. However, this method is free of charge, is not difficult to use or time consuming and has the potential reach thousands of people. It is suggested that the Network continue to use this method with the possibility of creating a Facebook and/or Twitter account to connect with those West Belconnen residents that use social media.

Consideration for future engagement: It is suggested that the Network continue to use social media with the possibility of creating a Facebook and/or Twitter account to connect with those West Belconnen residents that use social media.



Neighbourhood Forums were held on 25, 27 and 30 October across West Belconnen for residents and service providers. The forums were jointly hosted by Belconnen Community Services and the Better Services Team, Community Services Directorate.

The forums were spread over a variety of days and times, with one on the weekend and two mid-week, in the evening and mid-morning, to ensure everyone who wanted to attend would have the opportunity to do so. In addition, the forums were held in a variety of locations including Flynn, Holt and Charnwood.

The forums were promoted widely, including through social media, mail box drops,

CD-net, through Canberra Connect and in the Chronicle.

The forums had low participation rates, however, as a result of these small rates discussion was in depth and very informative. Interestingly, largely the same topics and themes were covered over each forum, giving confidence that while the sample size at each forum was small; the results from the forums are reliable.

The mid-morning forum attracted the highest number of participants, with both the weekend and evening forum attracting smaller numbers. It was also noted that the majority of attendees were retired community members or people delivering services in West Belconnen, supporting the preference for mid-week forums.




Consideration for future engagement: While neighbourhood forums provide in depth conversation and information gathering, it is recommended that future forums be limited to mid week forums rather than weekends or evenings.

Targeted focus groups were organised with a variety of different individuals including a new parents group, West Belconnen People and Places Committee and an advisory committee of adults with intellectual disabilities.

Each of these groups proved incredibly fruitful feedback, and a great depth of insight into the different experiences of these groups in both receiving and providing services in West Belconnen.

T

Consideration for future engagement: Targeted focus groups should be conducted throughout the Local Services Network with a particular focus on disadvantaged groups that may not attend a separate forum or engagement activity.
argeted focus groups proved to be the most effective activity for seeking detailed input, by going where people already are, and by engaging on issues that matter to them. When combined with other methods for reaching particularly isolated or disengaged groups, targeted focus groups can provide valuable input from diverse participants.

Individual Conversations were anticipated using a conversation tool that was developed for services to use with a variety of their clients, many of whom use services regularly. Unfortunately, the response from this was insufficient, with services indicating that they didn’t have the time or confidence to engage clients in using the tool.

Similar tools have however been effectively used by other processes, including the Health Care Consumer Association’s Real People, Real Data project. This project provides valuable insight into individual client journeys and indicates a potential opportunity to improve the conversation tool methodology for the Local Services Network. Learning’s from both approaches will be used to inform future roll out of the conversation tool, including by providing training and support to workers in the Local Services Network.




Consideration for future engagement: Based on successful examples of individual client journey mapping, training and support should be provided to workers in the Local Services Network to build capacity for engaging hard to reach community members.

An Online Survey was hosted on the ACT Government Time to Talk website opening early October and closing early November. The survey received 33 responses from both service users and service providers in the West Belconnen region.

The survey was exclusively available online, and as a result access from the entire community was unlikely. However, the responses received were detailed, beneficial, and in line with other consultation outcomes. Additionally, responses were reflective of a broad spectrum of participants.



Consideration for future engagement: Online surveys should be used to provide an easy means to collect data from the community, however, it should not be exclusively relied upon to provide feedback from the community as a whole.


Personalised invitations to attend the Neighbourhood Forums were sent from the Director General, Community Services Directorate to the five West Belconnen residents who recently participated in the Older Person’s Assembly. Two of those residents invited attended a Forum and were eager to share their views and ideas on how Older West Belconnen residents may continue to enjoy and benefit from living the area.


Consideration for future engagement: Based on the success of personalised invitations, broadening the scope to include additional stakeholder groups, such as young people could be another method.


A Review of Previous Engagement and Consultations was completed to ensure that consultation did not miss any key themes. Many of the themes from previous consultations aligned closely with what was established in this consultation.

Previous consultation included the West Belconnen Comprehensive Community Plan, Kippax Group Centre Planning Review: Community Consultation Outcomes Report, Beyond NAIDOC and Let’s Make it Fair, as well as consultation completed with groups through other services, including the South Sudanese community.

Previous consultation themes provided a good base to establish the focus of consultations both in this phase, and potentially for future phases as well. Reviewing previous consultations also ensured that the same groups or individuals were not being asked the same questions through multiple engagement processes.

Consideration for future engagement: Previous and new consultations relating to West Belconnen should be collated and made available for future reference, to avoid over consulting particular groups, and to ensure key themes are shared across multiple stakeholders.



Consultations with children was conducted which involved child friendly surveys developed for use in schools, pre-schools, playgroups and potentially childcare.

Due to public school policies and clearance requirements, these schools were unable to complete the survey during the initial consultation phase. However, one independent school was able to provide results within the timeframe. Several children attending playgroups with their parent or guardian also completed the survey.

Results from the completed surveys were useful in providing another point of view on service provision and sense of community in West Belconnen. Preliminary results also reflect what has been established through previous methods of community engagement.


Consideration for future engagement: Child specific surveys can be of great assistance in gaining a whole of community view on service delivery and connectedness. Additional time is however required to comply with public school policies if the surveys are to be extended to public schools.

Whilst young people were not significantly surveyed during this stage, the roving story boards were hosted by the Belconnen Community Centre-Youth Centre, with staff assisting to gather information on issues relevant to young people in the area.




Consideration for future engagement: In future phases, youth specific surveys could be delivered through high school, colleges and youth services such as Youth Justice.







Engagement Outcomes

Five key themes emerged from the community engagement activities and the review of previous consultations. Within each of the themes are several topics, Attachment A provides a detailed breakdown of the five themes and topics discussed below.

Improved Services


Improved Access to Services

People want to be able to access information easily when they need it. Services also need to be available on weekends/evenings for those who work. People are concerned about age restrictions on services that should be available to meet their needs. People also commented that services should be able to direct them to other services if they can’t provide what they need.


Available Services

Improving services for young people was high on many people’s agendas. A youth venue which is located in West Belconnen and open in the evenings and on weekends, education assistance for young people, and support groups for young people at risk, were all raised as key supports which may help improve the lives of young people in West Belconnen. In addition, community entertainment events, including music festivals and a leadership development group, were suggested as key activities to encourage young people to engage in community participation.

In addition to services for young people, gender specific services including women’s services in the region, a Men’s Shed in West Belconnen, a father’s support group, and more groups/activities that are specific to men in the West Belconnen area. More services for children during the week and outside work hours were also identified.

Support for the elderly is also needed in West Belconnen. People feel that neighbours should be looking out for the older people living in their street, that there should be parks with benches to provide a place to relax outside. Older people in the community should feel as though they have places to go and things to do in order to avoid feeling isolated.

People also believe there should be more affordable healthcare, housing options that are both more affordable and more diverse, and an increase in outreach services to reach the most vulnerable members of the community.


Improved Promotion of Services

Services should be promoted by other services across West Belconnen, regardless of if they are co-located or not, and if a service is unable to help someone, they should point them in the right direction, rather than just dismissing them.

Services need to work together, they should have common processes, and share information where they can, people do not want to have to tell their story multiple times. This would also help to prevent doubling-up and to ensure services are working as effectively as possible for the best outcomes.

Furthermore, people want to feel that when they access services they are respected and treated with dignity, people should be able to provide constructive feedback and be supported and encouraged to do so without fearing negative repercussions for speaking up. Feedback should also happen on a continuous basis, it should not just be a one off.


Community Facilities


Facilities

The community would like to see an increase in the number and quality of community facilities currently in West Belconnen. In particular more dog parks, more challenging playgrounds, a swimming pool and sports complex, recreational areas that appeal to the whole family, and more childcare facilities. In addition, a focus on the development of infrastructure including more banks, cafes, supermarkets and department stores is necessary, particularly for the suburbs of West Belconnen that lack any shops.


More Accessible Facilities

Community infrastructure and facilities need to be accessible to the entire community, including those living with a disability. The community wants facilities like swimming pools to be financially accessible, for community facilities to be well maintained (including mowing the grass to avoid snakes), to ensure shared spaces remain somewhere everyone in the community feels welcome. In addition, all community areas should be well lit to ensure the safety of those using them.

People would also like public housing to be better maintained; the potential for volunteers to contribute to this was suggested. Indeed, people are happy to have public housing on their street as long as it is not easily identifiable as such, this also helps to encourage a feeling of inclusion in the community.


Protection of Indigenous Land

Throughout the development process in West Belconnen, the community believes it is of great importance to ensure that indigenous land and heritage sites are protected.


Building a Sense of Community


Community Ownership

People feel that there should be more of a sense of community in the West Belconnen area, and that people should be able to have a sense of ownership, and take pride in their community. People think this could be developed through an increase in community events that are based in, and focused on West Belconnen. In particular, there should be more events on the weekends, and specifically for children and young people, and also a West Belconnen Market should be developed, featuring local produce.

People identified that a significant barrier to developing a sense of community was the red tape that exists around community events, including being unable to block off the street for street parties, and being concerned about helping out by doing things like mowing the median strip because of the potential liability involved. However, people also thought that through compromise, this could be easily overcome. An excellent example of compromise would be the parties held at the shops, while discontinued, they provide an excellent starting point.

Local businesses could also contribute to creating a sense of community by providing excess food for those who may need it, and to allow things like community vegetable plants at places like Kippax Fair.


Community Participation

Encouraging community participation can go a long way towards preventing anti-social behaviour. People have made it clear that they want to be involved with their community, and while they don’t want to be a part of the design process, they do want to be consulted, and kept up to date with what is happening in their community.

People can contribute through volunteering, and they have made it clear that they would like more opportunities to do so, as well as someone to organise opportunities so that they can just arrive and help out. Pro-social behaviour such as volunteering, particularly when based in the community, has the potential to minimise behaviour like bullying.

Bullying was an issue that came up frequently during consultation; people made it clear they believe it to be a whole community issue, and it can only be combated that way. It was a particular issue among people who come from diverse backgrounds and people with disability.

Therefore, it is important to appreciate the diversity of the community and residents within West Belconnen, and indeed, people made it clear that people should appreciate people who have different life experiences than their own. It was also suggested that events with a focus on diversity and multiculturalism, like pot luck community meals, be embraced in the community.

Education and Employment


Employment

People felt that there needed to be more employment opportunities in the


West Belconnen area, so that they didn’t have to travel to Belconnen town centre or the city. This is particularly important for young people looking for casual retail and hospitality opportunities. Additionally, people felt that they could benefit significantly from job network services that would help link them with employment.

Improved Options for Education

People felt that there needed to be more options for education, particularly at the


high school level in the West Belconnen area. In particular people wanted a college, and more high school options, more after school activities, and more advertisements of services in schools. It was also suggested that Year 6 inductions for High School should be scheduled before applications are due so people are more informed to make decisions.

Transport


Public Transport

A large number of people felt that the bus services could be significantly improved in West Belconnen. People felt there were not enough bus services throughout West Belconnen and between West Belconnen and Belconnen, particularly during the day. They also felt that there should be several places to re-charge and purchase


MyWay cards in the West Belconnen area.

Community Transport

People felt that the bike tracks and footpaths around West Belconnen could be maintained much better, particularly outside city centres. Bike paths should also be extended so it is possible to ride safely from West Belconnen to Belconnen city centre.

Additionally, people felt a community transport service that was either heavily discounted or free should run between the Holt, Charnwood, Flynn and Kippax service hubs.

Parking

People felt it was not appropriate for them to have to pay for parking when visiting community services, and consequently that parking should be free near vital services and amenities. In addition, people suggested that better/safer parking is necessary at Kippax Fair and the West Belconnen Child and Family Centre.





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