The Blue Mountains community has been particularly hard hit by recent shocks. The Black Summer bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact not just on people’s lives but on their livelihoods. With 74% of the City classified as World Heritage National Park, the LGA has the highest visitation of any other National Parks in Australia and tourism is one of the biggest economic drivers in the region.
In this context, it is not surprising that Blue Mountains City Council has elevated the engagement strategy for the update of its Community Strategic Plan to ensure they have genuine conversations with the community about what has passed and what we can collectively learn from our experiences in planning for a better, more sustainable and prosperous future.
Council commissioned JOC Consulting to deliver an ambitious engagement program that captures the hearts and minds of a local community who passionately want to protect this unique world class area for the benefit of current and future generations. The engagement approach encompassed a mix of events and techniques – from face to face pop-ups dotted across the region to collaborative online workshops and forums that utilised best practice online tools and experiences.
All engagement activity was focussed on transcending engagement and zoom fatigue to gather rich qualitative and quantitative data and provide actionable insights that will inform the review of the CSP in a meaningful way.
The insights gathered to date have directly informed the revised CSP and will help to set the direction and priorities for management of Council’s assets and resources into the future. We have received excellent feedback from workshop participants and genuine appreciation from the community that Council has invested in such a robust engagement process.