Council named as top performer
THE Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) has been named one of the state’s top 14 community engagement performers.
SDRC Mayor Ron Bellingham said community engagement was one of the council’s top priorities especially with the unique obstacles amalgamation brought to the region.
“It was a significant issue for the new council as a case of what’s going on and what the changes meant for the community,” Cr Bellingham said.
Transparency was on the agenda as councillors recently visited “far flung” areas of the district to gauge and interact with the community, which often included heated debate.
“We’ve recently been to Maryvale and Leyburn and will go to Ballandean and Tannymorel on April 20,” he said. “We’re spreading ourselves across the region... We’ve sought feedback on the Morgan Park plan, the Condamine River plan and the medical shortages at Allora and Killarney.”
Of the 54 councils who returned the community engagement survey only 29.6 per cent had developed formal community engagement policies. The new State Government data showed size didn’t matter when it came to communication – with Balonne, Banana and Maranoa regional councils among the top performers.
Local Government Minister Desley Boyle said the data showed Queensland councils recognised the value of communication, with 90 per cent reporting they used a range of methods to keep ratepayers informed.
“The data shows councils recognise the importance of engaging with their communities as part of normal council business,” Ms Boyle said.
“But the survey also shows councils have some work to do,” she said.
Ms Boyle said having a community engagement policy in place enabled councils to identify the most effective and cost efficient ways to inform Queenslanders about issues, as well as better inform council decision making.
“The survey showed there is room for improvement in the way community engagement is undertaken and evaluated,” Ms Boyle said. “Only a third of councils in the survey said they had developed formal community engagement policies to guide their process.”