Strategic planning and community engagement

Local councils in NSW are required to develop, consult and deliver on a range of plans and strategies, all of which include issues with the potential to impact on Aboriginal communities. These key strategic planning instruments require an integrated consideration of social, environmental and economic issues, and must be based on social justice principles of equity, access, participation and rights. Community engagement and consultation – including engagement and consultation with local Aboriginal communities – is the best way to ensure ensuring these planning instruments are a genuine reflection of the needs, aspirations and objectives of the various communities within the local government area.

The Integrated Planning and Reporting framework (IPR)

Designed to bring together the various statutory and reporting processes undertaken by councils, this framework requires all councils to develop a minimum 10-year strategic and corporate planning framework.

The guiding principles, set out in section 8(a), require council decision-making to:

  • Recognise diverse local community needs and interests
  • Consider social justice principles
  • Consider the long term and cumulative effects of actions on future generations.

The Community Strategic Plan (CSP)

The CSP represents the highest level of strategic planning undertaken by a local council for its local government area. It is a 10-year blueprint identifying the main priorities and aspirations for the future of the local government area. All other plans developed by the council as part of the IP&R framework must reflect and support the achievement of this CSP.

Building the CSP takes time and must involve a whole-of-community engagement process. It must be based on the social justice principles of access, equity, participation and rights; as well as the quadruple bottom line (including consideration of social, environmental, economic and civic leadership issues). At the end of each council term a report is prepared which examines progress towards the identified outcomes on the plan.

Delivery Program

This four-year program turns the strategic goals of the CSP into actions that are the responsibility of the council. It is the key go-to document for councillors, identifying all of the key activities the council has committed to undertake over its four-year term. All plans, projects, activities and funding allocations of the council must be directly linked to the Delivery Program.

A new Delivery Program is required after each ordinary election of councillors.  It is drafted and placed on exhibition before being adopted by the council for commencement on 1 July following the election.

The Delivery Program is reported to council by the General Manager at least every six months.  If any significant amendments are proposed, the councils must re-exhibit it, explaining the proposed changes and inviting community comment.

Operational Plan

The Operational Plan spells out the detail of the Delivery Program, identifying the individual projects and activities that will be undertaken in a specific year to achieve the commitments made in the Delivery Program. It must include the council’s annual budget, along with the statement of revenue policy, which includes the proposed rates, fees and charges for that financial year. Operational Plan responsibilities are linked to team planning and the staff performance system.

Resourcing Strategy

The community’s aspirations and objectives, outlined in the CSP, cannot be achieved without sufficient resources – time, money, assets and people – to implement them. The Resourcing Strategy consists of three interrelated elements:

  • Long-Term financial planning
  • Asset management planning
  • Workforce planning.

Of these, Workforce Planning is a crucial part of councils seeking to properly represent and reflect the Aboriginal people and communities in their local government area. The role of workplace planning in building a consultative organisation engaged with Aboriginal communities is addressed in a later section of this document.