How the City of Casey Involved Its City Council in Engagement

Over the 8 years City of Casey has been a client of Bang the Table, they have expanded and evolved their online engagement strategy and use of tools. The City of Casey went from using their EngagementHQ site Casey Conversations as a little more than a survey tool to using it as a hub for all of the city’s online engagement activities. “I’m really proud of that progression,” said Dinuki Scharenguivel, Team Leader Engagement and Advocacy. Not only have their engagement projects ramped up, they’ve found a way to get the rest of the council involved.

The New Engagement Strategy: Embedding engagement across the organisation

The dedicated engagement team at City of Casey consists of Dinuki and Laura Garner, Community Engagement Advisor. There will be fifty-nine engagement projects across the coming year, which might seem daunting for a team of two. But they’re not alone – they have enlisted the help of Engagement Experts across the Council.

The new strategy is easy to understand and means that engagement is not an afterthought, but part of the initial planning stages of a project. “Community engagement is now front-and-centre,” said Dinuki. “It’s just part of the conversation.”

What are Engagement Experts?

Engagement Experts are staff across the City of Casey that have transferable skills — like digital video creation, working with youth, or communications experience — along with enthusiasm for the projects and the Council.

The selected Engagement Experts received IAP2 training, and learning how to use EngagementHQ. While it was a bit of time commitment on the part of the organisation and staff, this ensured the Engagement Experts developed the skills required for their new role.

Because being an Engagement Experts is usually outside of the staff member’s job description, it’s important they are engaged in the projects they’re working on. “Enthusiasm can fizzle as quickly as it starts,” said Dinuki. This is where Laura’s creative flair came into play.

Making engagement fun

As an introduction, Engagement Experts left chocolates with a note on staff desks, inviting them to get together and talk about what engagement means to them and the organisation. When Engagement Leaders report for duty, they’re not stuck in boring meetings. Laura has a knack for getting the team energised, sometimes with a costume and props. Not only does this make the project fun and engaging – it’s also a great testing ground for engagement activities before taking them to the broader community.

Recognition and thanks for good work is really important. There’s no doubt the Engagement Team is being looked after. “They’re our babies!,” said Dinuki.

What’s next for the City of Casey?

The council members are completely embracing the online space, including Facebook Live. “We now live stream all of our council meetings. Last night’s council meeting had 20,000 views.” It’s just not possible to get that many community members into a council meeting venue, even in their brand new office at Bunjil Place. They’re looking to make online access the standard.

The City of Casey is also making it a priority to close the loop on engagement projects — ensuring no matter the outcomes, they always go back to the community with the results. With such creative leaders at the helm, we’re excited to see how City of Casey will continue to engage their community. Watch this space!

Tips for anyone who is considering adopting an organisation-wide approach to engagement:

  1. Foster executive buy-in:
    Make time to speak with the executives and managers in your organisation to ensure they understand why engagement is so important. Once they are onboard, keep them up to date on projects.
  2. Be patient and supportive of your staff:
    Your staff are your best resource, so make time to help them develop new skills. It may take some patience but will pay off in the long run.

Hear more about Dinuki and Laura’s projects and The City of Casey’s approach to engagement in our latest podcast episode here

Published Date: 1 December 2017 Last modified on January 31, 2019

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