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Charter Toolkit

This is a living toolkit and new tools and case studies are welcome. Please email your suggestions to DPTI.PlanningReform@sa.gov.au.

The Community Engagement Charter Toolkit is a living, interactive guide that helps practitioners fulfil their obligations under the Community Engagement Charter when planning for engagement.

The toolkit provides step-by-step guidance together with a range of templates, case studies and examples to help develop the best engagement approach for different types of projects, policies or schemes.

Requirements of the Charter must be met when creating or amending a designated instrument which includes State Planning PoliciesRegional Plans, Design Standards and the Planning and Design Code. Requirements must also be met when creating or amending an Infrastructure Scheme.

Mandatory aspects of the Charter

  • Engagement plan - An engagement plan must be prepared and approved by  the State Planning Commission and demonstrate that Step 1 and Step 2 of the Toolkit have been achieved. The engagement plan template provided is a guide only and is not required to be used.
  • Evaluation - The State Planning Commission’s (the Commission) minimum performance indicators must be used to measure the success of engagement against the Charter’s principles. These must be included in the engagement plan and are analysed in the engagement report.
  • Engagement report - An engagement report must be prepared for the Minister for Planning at the conclusion of the engagement process. It is recommended that the engagement report template is used in order to satisfy all of the information requirements for the report.

Step checklist

  • Determine your engagement purpose, background and objectives.
  • Determine your stakeholders’ scope of influence.
  • Conduct a stakeholder and community analysis.
  • Consider how the characteristics of your stakeholders and community will need to be accommodated in the design of your engagement, applying the lens of the Charter principles.
  • Consider how to best demonstrate the tangible impacts of policy changes through visual and graphic means.

Examples of this step

Why this step is important

It is essential to have clear project team agreement on what is being engaged on and why. This will ensure from the outset that the best process is followed. It’s important to be on the same page, as all your engagement activities will stem from this point on. It is also important that you understand what engagement may have already been undertaken as this will influence who you engage with and how you go about it.

Defining what you are engaging on will enable you to craft your engagement purpose, objectives and develop the messages for engagement.

How to do this step

Defining what you are doing involves being clear about the following:

  • What planning policy, strategy or scheme are you engaging on?
  • Is the policy, strategy or scheme being newly proposed or amended?
  • Why is the engagement being initiated (e.g. what are the key drivers? What issues are looking to be resolved? What opportunities are looking to be maximised?)
  • Is there any relevant background or history that should be considered?
  • Which location/area does the policy, strategy or scheme apply to?

It is important to recognise that your engagement approach may vary depending on the type of planning instrument you are engaging on, particularly in regards to:

  • the level of participation required, as outlined in the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Spectrum
  • the level of impact and/or interest that the decision may have for stakeholders and communities
  • the extent to which stakeholders and communities can influence what is being proposed.

Examples of this step

Refer to the case studies for examples of determining the scope of influence.

Why this step is important

It is important that communities understand from the outset what aspects of the proposal they can influence and those they cannot: ‘scope of influence’ refers to the range of things that stakeholders can actually do something about. Determining the scope of influence will enable you to identify appropriate engagement activities as part of Step 2. The scope of influence should be clearly articulated in all communication materials related to the engagement.

How to do this step

  • To complete this step you will first need to identify the extent to which communities, through their participation in engagement activities, can influence the final outcome. There may be aspects of the proposed planning instrument (i.e. the proposal) that are not negotiable (e.g. the geographic extent of a zone amendment) but others that are negotiable (e.g. specific conditions within a zone amendment).

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

It is essential to have clear project team agreement on who your stakeholders are, their interest in the proposal and the level of participation they will have. This will determine the ‘reach’ of your engagement and the activities you later identify. Stakeholder categories can be a useful way to identify relevant stakeholders. Consider categories such as: social, environmental, economic, state and local government, community/interest groups, industry, adjacent property owners/occupiers. It is recommended that an entity external to local government engage with the relevant council(s) as they have a detailed understanding of stakeholders and other aspects of their area.

How to do this step

To determine the level of engagement required, the IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum is a recommended tool, as it is well known and used by councils. The Spectrum is also the foundation of the South Australian Government's 'Better Together' program. If desired, alternative engagement frameworks can be used to determine your approach to engagement. Identifying the level/s of participation for your engagement requires two steps:

  1. Identifying stakeholders and communities who are likely to have an interest and/or be impacted (positively or negatively) by the proposal and determining what this interest or impact is.
  2. Identifying the levels of engagement required for each stakeholder group by considering the above.

What is 'reach'?

‘Reach’ refers to those who the engagement is targeted at and whose participation is desired. This could be those people impacted (positively or negatively) by the decision and/or those that have a particular interest. ‘Reach’ can therefore be defined by a locality, geographical area, people, communities and/or groups.

Examples of this step

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

Every community is unique. The reach of your engagement may require you to work with stakeholders of different cultural, professional or religious backgrounds. Considering particular needs or preferences in how your stakeholders engage will help maximise the engagement outcomes.

How to do this step

After you have identified your stakeholders and communities, consider how the Charter principles may apply to them.

To ensure your stakeholders have the best opportunity to contribute to the engagement, remember to address the following:

  • cultural needs
  • age-related needs or preferences
  • language needs
  • preferred means of communication
  • accessibility requirements (e.g. physical ability and also timing and location of engagement)
  • existing schedules or forums for stakeholder meetings (e.g. meeting frequency of councils, boards or community groups).

These considerations will inform the engagement activities developed in Step 2.

Step checklist

  • Determine the stages of engagement required for your proposal.
  • Determine the approach to each stage of the engagement (activities, resourcing and timing).
  • Consider your organisation’s capacity to deliver the engagement plan.
  • Include the Commission’s minimum evaluation criteria and identify any other measures of engagement success.
  • Prepare an engagement plan for your project which includes the information gathered as part of Steps 1 and 2.
  • Submit your engagement plan to the State Planning Commission for approval.

Examples of this step

Refer to the case studies for examples of different types of engagement and how to set objectives for your engagement:

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

The Charter encourages engagement to be weighted towards engagement at an early stage and scaled back when dealing with a settled or advanced policy.

As such your engagement is likely to occur over multiple stages - at the very least it should occur early in the proposal’s development and again once the draft proposal is prepared. For each stage of engagement, both the stakeholders and the level of engagement may change.

For example, you may involve or collaborate with residents in the development of a draft proposal (Stage 1) and then consult with them again on the draft proposal (Stage 2). You may consult with the wider community only as part of Stage 2.

How to do this step

Determining the stages of engagement require you to consider the following:

  • Engagement is likely to occur over multiple stages.
  • The objective of each stage of engagement may differ, e.g. do you seek early input to inform the development  of a proposal, or do you seek feedback on a completed draft proposal?
  • The primary level of engagement for each stage may vary.
  • The timeframes in which each stage of engagement must occur may impact your approach.

Determining your engagement activities will require you to consider many disparate elements, including:

  • The Charter principles: you will need to put these principles into practice for each engagement activity (refer to tool Charter Principles in practice (PDF, 224 KB).
  • The characteristics of your stakeholders: you will need to determine the needs of your target audience in terms of  venue, timing and communication requirements. You can tailor your engagement methods based on the information gained from your stakeholder analysis, completed as part of Step 1The level of engagement required: if you are only ‘informing’ your stakeholders of a change, then a public press advertisement or letter may suffice. However, if you are  ‘consulting’ your stakeholders on a change, then you may decide to invite written submissions or hold a community event.
  • Your stakeholders’ scope of influence: you will need to determine the level of influence that your stakeholders have on the outcome of the proposal. Choose activities that gather the level of information needed to develop the proposal and that set the right level of community expectation. For instance, where there is a lot of room to move in a proposal, use techniques that encourage people to contribute diverse ideas such as a workshop. Where there is less room to move, you may deliver activities that seek feedback on particular options only.
  • Educational materials required: you may need to provide supporting information to the community to build their understanding of the matter at hand so they can provide informed feedback. It is important to provide information in plain English and consider visual tools or scenarios to demonstrate on-ground development outcomes.
  • Methods to ‘close the loop’ on the engagement: you will need to provide stakeholders  with feedback on the results of the engagement and how it will be, or has been, used to inform the development of the proposal.
  • Any mandatory requirements for engagement.

The Charter provides for flexibility in the delivery of an engagement. The important thing is to ensure that the Charter principles and any statutory obligations are adhered to in your approach.

When developing your engagement approach remember to:

  • be clear about your stakeholders' scope of influence in relation to the decision being made
  • ensure that the engagement techniques used match the scope of influence.

Why this step is important

It is important to ensure that you have the resources to implement your engagement plan (e.g. people, skills, finances, materials, venues).

Expensive engagement doesn’t necessarily mean good engagement. What is important is that there is adequate opportunity for people to provide input and that they have access to the information they need to provide informed feedback.

How to do this step

Reflecting on your organisation’s readiness to deliver an engagement will help identify areas that need more support or resourcing; the good engagement work that is already happening; and whether you need to amend your plan accordingly.

Similarly, as the engagement plan is implemented, it may be subject to change as new issues or ideas emerge.

Key questions to ask include:

  • What resources do we have available to implement this engagement plan (both financial and staffing)?
  • Do we have the internal capacity to deliver this engagement process (i.e. the skills and expertise)?
  • How else might we resource this engagement plan?
  • How do we build our internal capacity to deliver this (or any future) engagement plan?
  • Do we need to adjust the engagement plan to match our available capacity?
  • Are there any opportunities to collaborate and share the responsibilities for engagement?

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

Consider how the ‘success’ of your engagement process will be measured. It is important to do this early, as you will need to incorporate the methods for collecting ‘measurable’ evaluation data into the engagement. Doing so will ensure the engagement can be adequately assessed and you can ultimately determine whether the principles of the Charter have been met.

Evaluation data will need to be included in your engagement report to the Minister for Planning when you submit your initial or amended planning instrument for a final decision. The State Planning Commission is responsible for ensuring that all relevant engagements have met the requirements of the Community Engagement Charter and that the Charter itself is reviewed at least once every five years.

How to do this step

The Commission has developed minimum performance indicators to facilitate a consistent approach to evaluating engagement against the Charter’s principles and enabling an informed view for reviews of the Charter performance. These performance indicators must be listed within the Engagement Plan. Refer to Measuring success tool (PDF, 268 KB) and Template - engagement plan (DOCX, 83 KB).

A lot more can be done to measure the success of engagement.  As an engagement process is planned it is important to consider what can be learned about the process so that key questions can be identified in the evaluation approach.

In developing additional measures of success, consider what successful engagement would look like for:

  • the project team
  • the decision-maker
  • the community and stakeholders.

Outline the measure and how you will implement it. Your measures will probably include a mixture of quantitative (e.g. number of submissions, website hits, number of workshop participants) and qualitative measures (e.g. description of activities undertaken, description of how feedback influenced the policy, strategy or scheme). Depending on the scale/significance of the proposal you might like to consider the use of applications or web tools that assist you to capture and analyse feedback or engagement outcomes. Your measures need to focus on the success of the engagement process itself - did those people who wanted to have input actually provide input? And did the collective input add value to the final policy, strategy or scheme? We want good engagement to power good planning outcomes. Measuring planning outcomes is an important longer term process but not the focus of this Guide.

If further evaluation measures are proposed these should be added to the engagement plan and the final evaluation provided in the engagement report.

Examples of this step

Refer to case studies for example of demonstrating the Community Engagement Charter’s principles in action.

Tools for this step

Why is this step important

This step seeks to ensure you are meeting the requirements of the Community Engagement Charter.

How to do this step

Reflect on the Charter principles (PDF, 224 KB) and assess how well your engagement plan addresses them. Make any adjustments to ensure the principles are adequately represented, along with all statutory requirements. How well your engagement plan addresses the principles will be a major consideration of the Minister for Planning and the State Planning Commission in approving your engagement plan.

Examples of this step

The State Planning Policy engagement plan is an example of an engagement plan prepared for the purposes of meeting the Community Engagement Charter.

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

The engagement plan is a document that articulates the guiding steps for engagement.

Practice Direction 2 - Consultation on the Preparation or Amendment of a Designated Instrument (PDF, 128 KB) requires that an entity preparing or amending a designated instrument must prepare an engagement plan. The engagement plan must be submitted to the State Planning Commission for approval. The State Planning Commission will check that the proposed engagement meets the principles of the Charter. The intent to meet the principles of the Charter is demonstrated through completing the Steps 1 and 2 in this Toolkit.

How to do this step

Using the information gathered through Steps 1 and 2, prepare your engagement plan. While a template is provided with this Toolkit, the Charter does not prescribe a particular template for the plan. The most important thing for your engagement plan to capture is the information outlined in the steps of this Toolkit. You may use your organisation’s engagement plan template, another template or the ‘Better Together ‘template available from the Better Together website along with other proven engagement tools.

Why this step is important

Before you commence engagement, you are required to submit your engagement plan to the State Planning Commission (the Commission) for approval. Prior to this, staff from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will assess your engagement plan and may seek amendments or clarifications before forwarding it on to the Commission with advice.

How to do this step

It is recommended that the engagement plan be submitted to the State Planning Commission with initiation documentation. However, it is recognised that there may not be enough information to determine the details of the engagement plan at this early stage. As such, the engagement plan could be lodged after the initiation.

Step checklist

  • Implement the engagement plan and actively review and amend as required.
  • Close the loop with participants at the end of each activity and stage.
  • Gather the information required to measure the success of your engagement – it is important to address the Commission’s minimum evaluation criteria as part of this process.

Example of this step

Refer to the case studies  for examples of engagement and the State Planning Policy survey (PDF, 111 KB).

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

To ensure you meet the requirements of the Community Engagement Charter you must engage in accordance with it.

How to do this step

Deliver the engagement activities in line with your engagement plan. A number of tools are available to assist you in getting the most out of your engagement activities (see above).

Why this step is important

A part of listening to the community is getting feedback on the engagement approach.  If feedback suggests that the engagement in itself is not adequate, then consideration should be given to varying the plan.

How to do this step

As the engagement gets underway, you may need to review and amend your plan as new issues or ideas emerge or you learn more about your communities and/or your resourcing needs change. This may mean rethinking the activities you have planned and altering the timing of the engagement or and the kind of stakeholders you target. As you review your actions, consider the resourcing requirements and adjust your plan as required. Be flexible. Actively review and change direction if you need to throughout the engagement. The reality is that all engagement plans will change in some way at various points in the engagement process.

You do not need to get the Commission’s approval to vary the engagement plan. An explanation of any changes to the engagement plan and any additional engagement can be provided in the engagement report that you submit to the Minister for Planning at the end of the process.

Examples of this step

The case studies demonstrate how real organisations have approached the task of 'closing the loop' with participants at the end of an engagement task. Also refer to the What We Have Heard Report on the car parking review (PDF, 724 KB) as an example of an engagement summary report.

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

As you complete the stages of the engagement, ‘close the loop’ with participants by providing them with information about how their feedback will be, or has been, used. Participants may include those who attended a workshop or forum or it may include the broader community. An important direction of the Charter is to ensure that participants involved in engagement are shown that their input was heard and that they understand whether or not it has impacted the proposal. Doing so shows participants that their involvement was valued and meaningful, and that the engagement and policy process is open, transparent and accountable.

How to do this step

The Charter does not require a set format to ’close the loop’ on engagement activities. The important thing is to summarise the diversity of feedback received; outline how the information has been, or will be, used; and communicate with stakeholders in a way that is accessible. Options for closing the loop include:

  • preparing an engagement report and providing it to participants and/or the wider public at the end of each stage of engagement
  • providing closing statements at the end of activities (such as workshops), reiterating the kind of feedback received and explaining how this information will be used
  • sharing the results of the engagement online, via brochures or other published means
  • conducting information events or presentations to groups on how the engagement results have influenced the proposal.

Closing the loop

Remember that ‘closing the loop’ is part of an ongoing process and not just something that occurs at the end of an engagement when you submit your planning policy, strategy or scheme to the Minister and State Planning Commission for approval. It should be somethings that occurs multiple times throughout the engagement process at the conclusion of each engagement activity or stage.

Example of this step

The State Planning Policy survey (PDF, 111 KB) is an example of setting questions to gain feedback on a project and using the minimum performance indicators to evaluate the success of engagement.

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

As you implement your engagement activities, ensure you are gathering the required the information to support your evaluation and the measures of success identified in Step 2. You will need this information to be able to complete your engagement report (in Step 4), which is submitted to the Minister for Planning. If multiple people are running different engagement activities, ensure that everyone is aware of the data collection requirements.

How to do this step

Ensure that your project team has the tools they need to gather the required information for your evaluation (e.g. feedback form, attendance sheet, web analytic tools) and that you collect all the necessary details (e.g. attendance numbers at events, details of participants, names of organisations).

Collect feedback and evaluation data from stakeholders throughout engagement activities and be sure to address the Commission’s minimum evaluation criteria. A survey template is provided that can be used for collecting responses to the minimum evaluation criteria (see ‘Tools for this step’, above).

Step checklist

  • Close the loop with participants and communities regarding the decision outcome and how input has been used to inform the final planning policy, strategy or scheme.
  • Determine the level to which the measures of success (including the minimum evaluation criteria) have been achieved and cross-check the delivery of your engagement against the Charter principles.
  • Prepare your engagement report and submit this with planning instrument in question to the Minister for Planning to facilitate a final decision.

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

An important direction of the Charter is ensuring that people know how their feedback was used to influence a planning outcome. If your project involved a multi-stage engagement, you will have already closed the loop with your stakeholders at the end of each engagement activity and stage. Once the proposal for the planning instrument has been completed, you need to again close the loop with your stakeholders regarding the feedback that was received and how it has been used to inform the proposal.

How to do this step

Refer to the Closing the loop at 3C.

It is a legislative requirement that the engagement report is published on the SA Planning Portal. In accordance with Practice Direction 2 - Consultation on the Preparation or Amendment of a Designated Instrument (PDF, 128 KB), an engagement report will be published within five days of the final decision being handed down by the Minister for Planning. The engagement report will provide stakeholders with a summary of the engagement process, including what was heard and how input into the engagement has been considered.

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

AAt the end of the project it is important to determine how successful the engagement has been. Understanding what went well in your engagement and what could have gone better will help inform future engagements. The information gathered as part of this step will also form part of your engagement report to the Minister for Planning and the State Planning Commission.

How to do this step

Using the information collected, analyse how well your measures of success were achieved and how well the principles of the Charter were addressed.

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

You are required to submit an engagement report to the Minister for Planning in accordance with Practice Direction 2 - Consultation on the Preparation or Amendment of a Designated Instrument (PDF, 128 KB), along with the final proposed or amended planning policy, strategy or scheme. If the Minister considers that the Charter requirements have not been sufficiently met, the Minister may seek advice from the State Planning Commission.

How to do this step

Using the Template Engagement Report (DOCX, 96 KB) will ensure that the requirements of the Practice Direction (above) is met..

The engagement report should outline the engagement conducted, the feedback received and how that feedback was used, or not used, to shape the final proposed policy or instrument. The engagement report must also include an evaluation of the effectiveness of the engagement that considers whether:

  • the measures of success have been achieved
  • the principles of the Charter have been met
  • all mandatory requirements have been met.

The engagement report will be published on the SA Planning Portal by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure five days after the Minister for Planning has made a final decision on the proposed policy or instrument. The only exception to this rule applies to new or amended State Planning Policies, whereby the engagement report is published five days after the Governor’s final decision.

Step checklist

  • Conduct a 'lessons learned' exercise with your project team and share your engagement journey with your peers or industry.

Tools for this step

Why this step is important

Identifying areas for improvement and what worked well can result in more effective engagement exercises in the future. It can also help to better utilise time and resources in subsequent engagements and manage risk more successfully.

How to do this step

As a project team, reflect on how well the engagement went. Record and share your learnings to improve future engagement processes, participation, skills and outcomes.

Key questions to ask include:

  • What went well? What was challenging?
  • What would you change if the same or similar situation presented itself again in the future?
  • Was there anything you could have done better?
  • Were the measures useful in understanding the success of the engagement?
  • How can your learnings be recorded and applied to your next engagement process?

The important thing in this step is to celebrate your successes and hard work and identify opportunities for improvement to future processes. Share your engagement journey with your colleagues and your industry to help improve their engagement skills. Consider doing a presentation to staff or at an industry event or share your story in a publication or as a case study on the SA Planning Portal.

Page last modified Monday, 11 February 2019