Town of Victoria Park (with a population of almost 40,000) started using EngagementHQ to engage their community in 2015 for their Evolve project, as part of their Your Thoughts site. The Evolve project was created to understand the community’s future needs and desires for the Town, and to develop a Strategic Community Plan for future years.
Changing the Approach – Why Online Engagement?
Prior to this project, the Town of Victoria Park had not used any online engagement tools. They had a few hiccups with previous projects, resulting in community outrage. This resulted in the Town making a conscious effort to engage more broadly, using a number of different tools.
Anthony Vuleta, Chief Executive Officer at the Town of Victoria Park, explains that the council had their work cut out for them.
“After a failed town centre project, it was really important for us to rebuild trust with our community. We needed to show people that we value their input and ideas, and that means hearing from as many people in the community as possible,” he said.
The Town of Victoria Park didn’t sugar coat their approach, and were transparent about issues with previous projects when communicating the change of approach with Evolve.
Expanding Their Reach
Since then, the Town of Victoria Park has assessed their strategy and committed to applying the core values for public participation through its policies, strategies, practices and procedures.
Creating an online space gave the Town the opportunity to engage with members of the community who’s availability was limited or unable to frequently attend meetings or workshops. This approach made online participation possible, and Your Thoughts became a hub for information collected online and offline.
“Not everyone can attend workshops. Our EngagementHQ site meant we had a place we could share information collected in real-world meetings and workshops. No one was left out.”
From the 10,000 unique visitors to the site, 16% engaged by contributing to the forums, surveys and other online engagement tools. The site and the council’s openness and transparency has also been instrumental in helping the town to work on rebuilding their relationship with the community.
You can find the Town of Victoria Park’s projects on their EngagementHQ site, Your Thoughts Victoria Park.