Community engagement is a key priority for our community and for Council.
Our Community Engagement Policy(PDF, 297KB)
outlines the ways in which Council will inform, seek input from and involve the community in Council planning and decision-making.
What is community engagement?
Community engagement plays an important role in making Bellingen Shire a great place for residents and people who work in and visit the area.
It is a two-way process through which the community’s aspirations, concerns, needs and values help inform Council’s decision-making process.
Community engagement ensures that community members affected by a Council decision have a genuine opportunity to be informed of, and provide input into, the decision-making process.
We value our community as a source of local expertise and actively seek community feedback. We ask for and listen to your ideas, feedback and concerns in order to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of the whole community.
All residents of The Shire are welcome to participate. We encourage you to use your knowledge and personal experience to help us develop solutions to the problems and issues that affect you.
How do we engage and consult?
Council’s community engagement might include:
- a stall at a market to talk to residents about an issue
- hosting a series of design workshops about a new plan
- posting a survey about park equipment online via our Have Your Say engagement platform.
We do our best, within our resources, to find the most suitable ways to reach stakeholders and the general community to ask for their views.
Nearly all of our community engagement projects will be listed via Have Your Say
Read Council's Community Engagement Strategy.(PDF, 2MB)
When does Council engage the community?
There is a growing expectation that engagement will occur regardless of statutory requirements, so it’s important for us to be clear with you about when we will ask for community input and when it is not appropriate to do so.
Council is committed to engaging the local community when developing plans, policies and programs, other than routine administrative and operational matters.
On matters that are not subject to statutory consultation requirements, Council may choose to not engage the community when we are confident we already have sufficient community feedback to proceed, have adopted a plan which is the result of community consultation or when we are bound by legal restraints.
Deliberative democracy is another form of community engagement. It's an opportunity for Council to hear from a broader cross-section of the community and to think about decision-making from a new perspective and to apply Community-Led Governance.
To date we have run two deliberative exercises and through this process are developing our own model of democracy which we are trialling.
Community engagement for planning and development
The Bellingen Shire Community Participation Plan(PDF, 2MB) set outs how and when Council will engage with the community on planning functions under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
This plan helps to ensure that our community is aware of the opportunities and processes that allow them to participate in planning matters that affect them. Council staff use the plan to guide processes and procedures for community consultation on planning functions.
It is important to note that the plan describes the high level processes and minimum requirements for how Council will engage on planning functions. It does not outline specific engagement strategies for each type of planning proposal or project.