Consultation and Engagement
Less than twenty years ago, consultation wasn’t really a consideration in the planning process. In 1994, Socom wrote the consultation manual for Moreland City Council. It was the first consultation manual written for a local government in Victoria.
Today, consultation and engagement is part of the planning vernacular. Yet it is still often given only token consideration and not truly integrated into the planning process of an organisation. When it is truly integrated, it is amazing what can be achieved.
However, as a result of many poor consultation and engagement programs that have not delivered meaningful outcomes for the community, people have become bored with public information sessions, community reference groups and the like.
Consultation fatigue is a real issue and needs to be carefully considered in the context of an engagement project.
Dealing with it effectively means that organisations need to change the way they think about engagement and plan for it. This means changing the way people are treated, the value that they experience through the relationship and the mediums that we use to communicate.
Getting these aspects right doesn’t completely solve all the issues as different communities have different capacities to deal with issues that can affect them. An assessment of a community’s resilience to, or appetite for, change is an important consideration in any effective engagement program.