Communications

Communications and consultation staff within amalgamating councils have a dual role in the process. They must both assist those leading the amalgamation in undertaking internal and external communications activities about the amalgamation, as well as take stock of, and plan for, the future operations of the amalgamated unit. The activities immediately below apply to the latter. Establishing a framework for engaging consultative committees and interest groups in the new council, including policies and procedures, is also discussed below

Internal and external communications and consultation activities regarding the amalgamation process are documented in the Guidance for Leaders section, as a critical function in the amalgamation process. Though not listed here, communications staff and any working group established will work alongside leaders in also delivering those activities.

The Office of Local Government provides guidance for council community engagement. A checklist of considerations for amalgamation-related consultation (PDF, 156KB), along with other helpful information, can be found on the Resources page.

Stage 1 - Review

Communications

  • Establish a communications working group within the project management framework. Critical paths and/or timelines to be established.
  • Determine the current state of internal and external communications systems. This includes collating and reviewing systems and processes, policy, standards and reporting relating to internal and external communications activities. The 'Resources' page provides two checklists for communications: Internal communications (PDF, 100KB) and External and media communications (PDF, 163KB).

Consultation

  • Collate and review existing community consulation and staff consultation systems and processes.
  • Document any existing consultative or community/stakeholder committees established by each council e.g. s355 committees, Aboriginal advisory committees and working parties, precinct committees etc.
  • Consider and document any other significant interest groups that exist within current council boundaries.
     

Stage 2 - Plan

Communications

  • Review all current systems and processes, policy and reporting requirements for each council. In doing so:
    • Audit communications processes for effectiveness. 
    • Identify better practice processes across the merging councils. 
    • Align strategies.
    • Address any ICT systems issues.
  • Develop a communications framework and plan for the new entity. This will be unique to each entity due to size, resources and functionality and may include all policy, process and systems, internal and external communications, events, public relations, branding etc. The 'Resources' list provides a Marketing and Communications Framework (PDF, 468KB).

Consultation

  • Compare and analyse current policies and procedures for engaging with consultative committees and interest groups.
  • Audit consultation processes for effectiveness. Identify better practice and align strategies and establish a standardised methodology.
  • Develop a community governance framework, including a community consultation plan. Well recognised resources can be attained from the International Association for Public Participation Australasia including the IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum (PDF, 496KB).
  • Ensure integration of consultation strategies with new organisational communications plans.

Stage 3 - Mobilise

Communications

  • Finalise the new communications framework and plan, and all supporting policy, procedures, reporting requirements and any budget implications.
  • Continue to link with key internal working groups where applicable and support community consultation and engagement strategies.

Consultation

  • Establish an interim framework for engaging the consultative committees and interest groups in the new council, including policies and procedures. Note: Councils may decide to continue to operate their current committees separately under existing policies until further into the implementation phase, to allow time to consult these groups on a preferred consultation framework in the new council.
  • Finalise the community consultation plan and community governance framework.
  • Proactively and strategically manage all ongoing community consultation events and activities.

Stage 4 - Implement

Communications

  • Implement the new communications framework and plan.
  • Ensure all procedures are communicated and accessible to employees.
  • Develop and implement any training requirements.

Consultation

  • Implement new plans and policies, maintaining integration of consultation strategies with new organisational communications plans.
  • Continue consultation with the consultative committees and interest groups to implement merged policies and procedures while ensuring levels of engagement and representation are maintained.