We have come to expect great things from the City of Casey, their engagement staff and their EngagementHQ site. A couple of years ago we selected their city budget consultation project as our staff pick, and speaking of budgets, it is budget time for councils in Australia at the moment.
The project we picked this time is of different nature to our last Casey pick, and it is of slightly different nature to most of the other projects we usually pick.
Read below what is different and why we like it or read the first Casey Staff Pick.
Client: City of Casey, Victoria, Australia
Project: Casey People's Panel
Publish Date: 18 April 2017
Topic: The council has engaged the community through a people panel process, which was highly successful and something of a case study in itself. This EHQ project is all about closing the loop with the community, while also looking ahead of what is coming.
Widgets: Photo Gallery, Document Library, Lifecycle, Key Dates
- The commitment to transparency and "closing the loop": Conducting People's Panels (or 'Citizen Jury', as it is also known by) has been increasingly popular over the last few years in Australia. It aims to include the community more directly in the decision-making processes of local governments. Both in the real-world, as well as online.
Naturally, the recruitment, process and outcomes of People's Panels is not always as transparent as it should be, because at least some of the consultation happens behind closed doors. However, Transparency can be key to a successful People's Panel and the City of Casey show their commitment to the process by outlining in detail how the panel worked, why it was established and what the outcomes were.
This "Closing the loop", as we like to call it, is a crucial part of community engagement as whole, but unfortunately one that we find is often overlooked.
- Plain English: All text and language on the project page is simple and kept in plain English. You will find almost no jargon on the page. The same is true for the content in all key documents.
It may seem we are stating the obvious here, but too many projects we see are loaded with technical terms and jargon, therefore making consultation detail inaccessible to the wider public.
- Photos: The photo gallery contains plenty of images from the various panel events. Appealing visuals from real-word engagement events posted on EHQ is something that we do not see often enough. It doesn't take much to do either, the quality of most mobile phone cameras is more than enough when reporting back to the community.
- Looking ahead: Currently the project page is all about the process leading to where the consultation is at today. However, the team is also looking ahead, saying "Council's draft planning documents will be available for your comment in May. We'd love to hear from you, so check back then!". You can bet the team at Casey will have a great process of including the wider community in the consultation then.
- Browsealoud: The orange bubble in the top right in their EHQ is Browsealoud, in case you were wondering. This is a plugin that acts as a screenreader, translation and readability tool. While EHQ is fully accessible already, Browsealoud is a great plugin if you want to provide an additional accessibility feature. Click on it and have a play to see what it does and get in touch with us if you want to find out more.
For further consideration:
Cross Project Links: A few links to open consultations would have been useful inclusions in the project. As people read about engagement activities they may get into the mood to have their say on other projects as well and opportunities to do so should be provided.
- Follow Project Widget: Because there will be additional stages of consultation that will include the wider community, using the Follow Project widget would have made sense. This would have allowed people to register their interest and allow the team to contact a wider audience when the next engagement phase commences.
OVERALL: Running People's Panels is a committed process and transparency is a key component of it. The City of Casey have ensured this by closing the loop with the wider community through this informative project page. It puts emphasis on the importance of the panel, while at the same time include the entire community in the latest stage and set the scene for the next set of consultation activities.
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 24 April 2017. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.