Page 76 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 10 February 2015

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Examples would be the inquiries into the educational achievement gap, live music and vulnerable road users—just three examples where the community has been given an opportunity through the Assembly’s committee process to help shape policy not just for the government of the day but, in fact, for the entire Assembly, with all parties generally represented on those committees. We have also over the years issued a range of discussion papers and exposure drafts on legislation, again providing the community with that opportunity to engage with policy debate on legislative reform.

Since being a member of the executive, I have been working with my directorates, seeking to improve consultation processes. I want the directorates—and I have been very clear about this with them—to be open to input from the community, to listen to their concerns and to have the flexibility to respond and adapt so that services and facilities can be delivered to meet community needs and get the best possible outcome for the city.

Consultation, of course, can take many forms, with many degrees of engagement. Some of it can be quite simple and sometimes it is very difficult, through both the nature of the problem and the type of community that needs to be engaged, but it always needs to happen with an open mind.

An example of a consultation that has been well received by the community is the installation of new water refill stations around the city, an initiative of the parliamentary agreement. You might ask how the government work out where these should go and where the community would find them most useful. We asked the community through a consultation process. Ten of the drinking refill stations were installed at preselected district and neighbourhood ovals, based on government knowledge of them being high-usage locations, but the community was then invited to help determine the final 20 locations. Over 600 surveys were completed, with the most popular locations nominated including City Walk, Mount Ainslie lookout, the events terrace at the National Arboretum, Tuggeranong town park and along the Eastern Valley Way cycle path in Belconnen. Water refill stations are now being installed at these locations and should be completed by the end of the financial year.

This is a neat example of a focused consultation being used effectively to gather information about a specific community need. The survey was also an opportunity to further examine community attitudes by asking people how the provision of these facilities would affect their behaviour. Over 80 per cent of the survey respondents said more drinking fountains would encourage them to carry a reusable water bottle, reducing plastic bottle waste caused by purchased drinks—again, a good example of gaining valuable information about community needs to inform government policymaking.

Another focused example of public consultation is the development of the ACTION Nightrider service. We are aware that it takes time to build patronage for a seasonal service such as this, and with that in mind ACTION is trying really hard to provide a model of service delivery that meets the needs of the community—both existing passengers and those who have not yet used the service.

This year ACTION came to me with an idea on a new way to approach the service that they thought would make it more attractive. I said, “Well, let’s see if we can

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