Community at the centre
Crafting a ground-breaking community charter for DELWP
Together for good – the client challenge
In 2016 the Department of Environment, Land Water & Planning (DELWP) embarked on a program of work to strengthen their engagement with Victorian communities, and create greater clarity of what interactions and outcomes all Victorians could expect from the organisation.
DELWP partnered with Cube Group to engage broadly and deeply with Victorian communities across the state, and also the department’s workforce and key stakeholders, to develop an innovative ‘community charter’ and set a transformational benchmark for the way public sector organisations make and keep promises to local communities.
Bringing the right thinking and people to the table
Developing the community charter required a sophisticated approach to engagement that reached all corners of the state, and incorporated the authentic voices of staff, stakeholders and most importantly Victorian communities.
We created a cascading program of more than 15 workshops in metropolitan and regional Victoria, with several sessions being run in parallel in the east and west of the state. Importantly, no two workshops were the same and were nuanced to the unique communities and DELWP teams we engaged with. The bespoke nature of our preparation demonstrated to participants our genuine desire to hear unconstrained ideas, concerns and insights from individuals in the communities.
Bringing our program of consultation together required disciplined project management, and a significant investment in project communications that ensured our key messages were consistent and timely throughout the engagement process.
We distilled the outcomes of our consultations to create the DELWP community charter, including drafting and design of the document itself and a practical guide for its implementation and operation.
We‘re proud the charter was considered a respectful interpretation of the key concerns, ideas and priorities shared by the local communities and DELWP staff and stakeholders we engaged with across the state.
The positive change we delivered
The DELWP community charter is featured as a case study in the 2020 Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR)Working together in place policy framework ( https://bit.ly/2Y1ZVS3) which describes the role and value of the charter, and forms the basis for the description below:
The DELWP community charter guides the department’s formal and informal interactions with communities, including how it builds capacity, connects with local networks and improves its public communication.
The charter’s commitments set out what individuals and communities can expect from the department. Its commitment to ‘be available, speak and listen, take action’ includes having a local, community focus by engaging with and being visible in local communities. DELWP is also committed to respecting the way communities want to work with them and adapting their approach to local needs.
DELWP’s community charter is a good example of adapting the way government operates to respond to the needs and views of local communities. It demonstrates how DELWP will be visible in local communities and talk to community members where they live, work and play.
Through the community charter, DELWP recognises and harnesses Victorian communities in delivering services that support thriving environments and communities.
The community charter has been translated into 10 languages for accessibility, and is available here:
Insights for inquisitive minds
Confidence is strengthened when policy making reflects the unconstrained voice of local communities. Listening and acting on the concerns and priorities of local communities builds trust.
Achieving outcomes at place means being visible in place, and understanding that every local community is different
Community commitments must consider service delivery capacity and capability to ensure promises made are promises kept
“Putting the community at the centre is more than lip service. It means active listening and true understanding come before anything else.”