Community: Do We Understand It?
Question one of the Ten Hardest Questions in Local Government, according to the LGAQ.
I’m going to challenge myself by addressing the ten hardest questions in Local Government (according to the LGAQ – Local Government Association QLD), one by one. But I also want to challenge you to read these and offer any insights in order to help us to do better.
The first question…
Community: Do we fully understand what is important to our community?
In my opinion, for too long councils and community have been brandishing a ridiculous us against them mindset. When people ask me what was the biggest shock in becoming mayor my answer is, “going to sleep on election night as a concerned and involved community member who had made a decision to put her ideas where her mouth was, and waking up as mayor, and the enemy”.
Seriously, how does this even happen? I believe much of the mistrust and innuendos stem from a lack of information sharing, so the answer to transparency and understanding lies in working out how we share vast amounts of information with you and in turn how you share information with us?
The top 5 issues we face when trying to understand the needs of our community are:
1. there are some very loud voices in community – but they may not be conveying the thoughts of the majority so how do we find out the thoughts of the quiet minority?
2. The tyranny of distance within our region makes face to face contact very time consuming, difficult to arrange and expensive yet many people favour this method of communication.
3. Telecommunications are not of the standard where we can use alternative methods of communication reliably and not everyone has embraced social media.
4. Letter writing is an almost extinct art with time frames of ten day delivery making this form of communication almost defunct.
5. When I do a radio interview I have about 2 minutes to share information which may have been a year in the making and when I do a TV interview (which is extremely rare as they don’t come out this far!!) I have the same issue.
So do we fully understand what is important to our community? As we all live, work and play here and we are a small community, we think we have a good idea of what’s important to our friends, family, neighbours, acquaintances, colleagues and anyone else who has taken the time to speak to us, but is there room for improvement?