IAP2 Australasia’s premier Core Values Awards recognise and encourage projects and organisations that are at the forefront of public participation. The awards were created to encourage excellence, quality and innovation in public participation. Embedding the IAP2 Core Values in organisations and projects that demonstrate leading practice is a key focus for the awards. In 2013, IAP2 Australasia offered three award categories: Project of the Year, Organisation of the Year and the Australasian Research Award.
Awards for Regional Project of the Year were also awarded.
The “Hepburn Shire Council Plan” engagement project won the IAP2 Australasia 2013 Core Values Award for Victoria.
From the document (pages 13-14):
OurSay partnered with Hepburn Shire Council to design and deliver an innovative online and face-face community consultation process with the express objective of involving as many people as possible in the drafting of the Hepburn Shire Council Plan for 2013-2017. The project was named “What’s the big idea?” and ran from 15 February to 26 March 26, 2013.
To inspire public participation, the Hepburn Shire Council committed to addressing the top ten most voted ideas registered by the community on OurSay.org/Hepburn-Council-Plan. The promise was that the top 10 ideas put forward and promoted by the community would be discussed at a Conference of Big Ideas by councillors, council officers and the community. Outcomes of the debate would then inform the strategic directions of the Council Plan.
To ensure that ideas were effectively registered, OurSay and Hepburn invited community organisations and leaders to 6 workshops across the Shire to help the community to define strategic ideas and actions. These ideas and actions were registered directly on to the OurSay forum and community members were trained to use the forum. The workshops were attended by 93 community members and a total of 61 ideas were registered.
Once the workshops were complete the community was ready to promote the OurSay forum. To ensure community ideas received votes, each community member had to use the OurSay campaigning tools embedded in the forum and share their ideas using social media, email and traditional community organising. This transformed the community member from someone being engaged to someone championing the engagement process. To receive as many votes for their idea as possible, highly involved community members had to reach out and find new people to vote for their idea.
At the conclusion of the online forum over 10% of households in Hepburn Shire had contributed 264 ideas, 3399 votes and 693 comments.
The top 10 ideas, which received the most votes were then discussed at the Conference of Big Ideas.
The conference was attended by all the Councillors, the Council management team, the OurSay team and 75 community members, including authors of 8 out of the top 10 ideas. Importantly, the author of the idea was provided the opportunity to present their idea, which was then followed by Councillors and Council officers discussing the strengths and challenges of each idea. Following this, all community members in groups of 8 were then asked to note down their thoughts about each idea. All this information was then collected and used to develop the council plan.
The proceedings were filmed so that anyone who couldn’t attend the conference can still benefit from hearing the council’s perspectives on the strengths and challenges of each idea. The video can be found at: http://oursay.org/hepburn-council-plan
Summary of the Process
1. Formal commitment from Hepburn Council to proceed: January
2. 6 face-face community workshops to get the ball rolling: Start of February
3. Online forum begins and maintained for 5 weeks: Start 16 February
4. Conference of Big Ideas: March 26
5. Council Plan is developed and a consultation draft is published: April