Community Satisfaction and Development Application Surveys

Council commissioned Jetty Research, an independent research firm, to assess the level of satisfaction among our residents on the Council's services and preferred communication options.

 A second survey of applicants who had applied for development approvals over the past two years was also undertaken.

The survey results of our first comprehensive community satisfaction survey will provide information and insight for setting priorities, reviewing levels of service and preparing budgets based on the feedback from residents. The Development Application survey results have provided constructive feedback on how the process can be improved.

The findings from the two community surveys will be shared with our community by posting the survey results on the Council's web site, following Councils consideration of this report.

The community satisfaction survey will be conducted on a 2 year cycle commencing in 2011/12, with the data to be used as a baseline to measure future community satisfaction.

Overview of Community Satisfaction Survey

  • Objective was to asses resident satisfaction and priorities with regard to program, works,  services and facilities and to establish baseline data to assist in the future benchmarking of Council's performance
  • The survey methodology was based on a random fixed line telephone poll of 400 residents with coverage from the 2453, 2454 and 2455 postcodes.
  • The survey took place from 21 March to 2 April 2012.
  • 89% of the poll sampled ratepayers as opposed to residents with 58% of the poll indicating they lived in an urban setting and 42% in a rural setting.
  •  74% said they had lived in the Shire for more than 10 years
  • Services with a high satisfaction rating included libraries (4.09), cleanliness of streets (3.61), water supply (3.60), parks/reserves/playgrounds (3.52) and sporting facilities (3.51).
  • Services with a low satisfaction mean included footpaths and cycleways (2.66), maintenance of sealed roads (2.51), economic development (2.50), development application processing (2.41) and maintenance of unsealed roads (2.33).
  • Services rated important to respondents were maintenance of sealed roads (4.23), river water quality (4.10), waste and recycling (4.06), protection of the natural environment (3.98) and flood management (3.91).
  • Water supply, waste and recycling, sewerage, parks/reserves/playgrounds, cleanliness of streets, protection of the environment and maintenance of public toilets were ranked as being of  high importance and high satisfaction
  • In contrast maintenance of sealed roads, river water quality, bridge maintenance, maintenance of unsealed roads, footpaths/cycleways and flood management were regarded as having high importance but low satisfaction, and therefore require focus.
  • Overall 26% of respondents were satisfied with Council's performance. The mean satisfaction of 2.98 is a useful benchmark for improvement
  • The survey found that the majority of resident contact with the council was by telephone (55%) or by face-to-face (29%) and that the main areas of contact related to ranger matters, development applications, road and footpath improvements, water/sewage and vegetation/trees.
  • The preferred methods for receiving council information about non-urgent matters was the Bellingen Courier Sun (61%), council newsletter (54%) and by email (29%).
  • The preferred methods for receiving information about urgent matters was the council website (27%), recorded phone message (24%) and ABC Local Radio (23%).

Summary of Survey of Development Application (DA) Applicants

  • The objectives of this survey were to measure satisfaction with the DA process, to establish baseline data for future benchmarking of council's performance and to provide user feedback on how the approval process could be streamlined and improved.
  • The survey methodology was based on a sampling frame of 343 applicants with 180 telephone interviews being conducted.
  • The survey took place from 16-23 April 2012.
  • 75% of the applicants did not associate themselves with a professional group, such as builders, planning consultants, architects etc meaning they were one off participants in the process.
  • The friendliness, approachability and professionalism of planning and front line staff rated high, with the timeliness of the approval process and consistency of information rating lower.  
  • 69% believed that council provided adequate information prior to submitting the DA, 58% were aware of council's DA Guide and 84% had referred to the Guide when preparing their application.
  • Perceived time delays were the major issue. Awareness and currency of the DA Online Tracking tool should also be a focus.


Community Satisfaction Survey 2012 (PDF - 905.71KB)

DA Survey 2012 (PDF - 924.95KB)