Tag Archives: Communication

Monash Council making decision without consulting residents

Decision making at Monash Council does not appear to have changed.  Residents using Gardiners Reserve indicate they have had no say in the choice of pitch to be laid, fencing or lighting.  EM&U have been asking for several years for Council to consult with stakeholders at the beginning of the decision making process.  Stakeholder representatives should be involved in the process from the very beginning and have a role throughout the whole process. Instead we see the usual token effort to involve stakeholders at the last stages.

It is hard to understand how Council has decided on a synthetic pitch yet has no information to pass to residents.  On what basis did Council make the decision for a synthetic pitch?  Has a procurement contract been signed?  If so, with whom?  During the 2016 election the community asked for transperancy.  The Department of Local Government has called for transperancy.  Monash Ratepayers has called for transperancy. Yet the decision about pitch at Gardeners Reserve appears to be far from transparent.

When will the ‘Have Your Say’ section on the Monash Council web site have the option for community members to add items they would like to have a say about?

Below: Letter from resident to EM&U 28 Feb 2017

Dear Empowering Monash and You,

I am writing to you as a resident of Monash with regards to Council’s proposal for a Synthetic pitch at Gardiners Reserve, Sixth Avenue, Burwood.

This major decision seems to have already been made in regards to the type of pitch surface, fencing and lighting without community consultation or understanding the community’s needs. Council are proceeding with a design for an estimated project cost of $2.9 million which will be decided on in the 2017/18 budget.

As residents, we were first informed by reading an article in the Monash Leader in January that mentioned the synthetic pitch, and not by council itself. We rang immediately and within a few days received a letter in the mail, with promise of a consultation in February.

We have since received a second letter inviting us to an informal consultation at Gardiners Reserve on the evening of March 9, with an opportunity to:

– hear about what is being proposed
– understand what the scope of works would be, if Council decides to fund the proposal in its 2017/18 budget
– understand why Gardiners Reserve has been chosen for the proposed synthetic pitch; and
– ask any questions we may have about e project and discuss any concerns.

We are very concerned that the decision to proceed with a synthetic pitch over alternative treatments seems to have already been made, and that we are being consulted very late in the process and are not being given the opportunity to have input into any decisions which will directly affect us.

Despite our requests for information on the decision process so far from Council officers, Councillors and the CEO we have not received any information, and are being told that we have to wait for the consultation to take place.

Worryingly, the consultation on 9 March is not listed in the ‘have your say’ page on Council’s website, and we fear that it may be limited to only one or two streets despite the wider community using this open space.

We hope that you will be able to offer us your valuable advice and support in this matter.

Sincerely,
[name and contact details supplied]

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No Jargon, Plain English! – An inexpensive solution for Monash Council

Council information jargon
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you seen this article?

Monash Council needs gun communications expert to decipher planning jargon into ‘plain English’. Monash Leader Mayor Paul Klisaris says Monash Council might have “lost some people’s interest” with jargon in the first mail-out.  – Source: Monash Council needs gun communications expert to decipher planning jargon into ‘plain English’ 

Perhaps Monash council should have joined the ‘Drop the Jargon’ day and pledged to use plain language! This day was for professionals, health services and local governments to challenge themselves to use plain language.  www.dropthejargon.org.au  

Monash council needs to understand what community consultation and engagement is, as if they did they would have asked the community if a communications expert is needed or the best option to help the community understand information or plans provided to them.

This is what I propose!

Why waste funds on hiring a communications expert when there is a simple way to communicate information to the community?

The best way to provide information to the community is to implement or commence a Community Information Reference Group. Community members can join to review information, including budget and proposed planning documents to ensure that fact sheets are written in plain English and cater to all consumers or community members. This way the community will understand the information provided to them and can have a say. The council can follow examples from health/community services which already provide information, that is accessible and easy to understand and reviewed by community members as part of the Standard 2: Partnering with Consumers. 

A great example is what Link Health and Community has introduced. Their publications or information are reviewed and approved by consumer members. They also have a vital role in producing their quarterly magazine to ensure that it is in a format that is suitable for community members.  

Other Councils such as Mitchell Shire Council have prepared plans in consultation with the community and developed in a format to communicate to community in a clear way. Link: Wallan Structure Plan, Mitchell Shire Council

Review Council Information
Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This option would be more cost effective as well as Council consulting and engaging with the community. Hiring a communications expert would only assist short time and will not cater to the changing diversity and demographics of the community. Community members are the experts! They are the ones that will read the information provided to them!

Council could commence a long term transparent Information Reference or Working Group and consider these points:

  • Diverse community members should have input in reviewing information or plans to ensure all are catered for
  • Run informal meetings monthly or what members prefer to review items and ensure there are no barriers for members of the group to attend and participate
  • Members to have input on the planning and delivery of information to the public
  • A community engagement officer to facilitate the meetings and take notes or record of discussions, but members should have authority over the decision making
  • Councillors should be invited to the group to listen and seek advice, not as members of the group, as this will ensure community members will have unbiased feedback and authority over discussions and decisions
  • Members to decide on guidelines that are suitable for the committee and reviewing information

Info standing man EM&U Stuart MilesLinks to more info:

Example of a plain English guide

Victorian Government Accessible Communication Guidelines

Communicating data with Colour: a guide to producing accessible maps and visual data

Communicate Clearly – A Guide to Plain English

The challenges of communicating the law to the public

Accessible Communication Guides – Whitehorse Council

Darebin’s Inclusive Communications Charter

Wyndham Cruiser – Wyndham Council

MONASH COUNCIL – Listening posts or Sticky posts?

‘Sign in the Garden’ post image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net ‘Very busy man’ sticky notes image courtesy of jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey 2014 revealed that Monash Council needed to improve in community Consultation & Engagement and Communication. Due to this, the council has decided to hold ‘listening posts’ in different areas for the community to have an opportunity to raise issues or provide feedback. For those of you who do not know what ‘listening posts’ are, it means Council staff members will attend different areas where the community will be able to approach them and raise any concerns they have.

There will be a ‘listening post’ on Sunday 20 July 8am – 1pm at Mulgrave Farmers Market. This is your chance to inform the Councillors or council staff members of any concerns you have. Don’t forget to bring your ‘sticky notes’!

Other Listening Posts will be held:

Thursday 31 July, 3.30 – 6.30 pm
The Glen level 2

Saturday 2 August, 10.30 – 12.30 am
Holmesglen Reserve Ashwood

Saturday 23 August, 10.30am  – 12.30pm
Warrawee Park, Oakleigh

Wear your EM&U name badge to the Listening Posts to help spread the news about our group.  If you do not have one email EMonashU@gmail.com.

If you really want them to listen you can try this!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigtialPhotos.net
               Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigtialPhotos.net

Do you think it will be ‘listening posts’ or ‘sticky posts’?  Come along and see for yourself!