Engagement
  • Last updated:
  • 01 May 2020

Creating opportunities for community participation

Part five of this Intelligent Community series focuses on engagement with and within our community: Intelligent Communities devote time and resources to educating and engaging their citizens, businesses and institutions as true partners in understanding challenges, identifying solutions and planning a better future.

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The Sunshine Coast is growing by almost 8000 residents each year and this trajectory will continue to 2041 when our region will be home to more than 500,000 people. While this growth brings exciting opportunities, we also need to plan and support our communities well to ensure we remain strong, continue to thrive and can adapt well to change.

It’s vital that Sunshine Coast Council has a clear framework for the future so that people and places remain connected, inclusive and cohesive as we grow. The Sunshine Coast Community Strategy 2019-2041 outlines this framework based on what our community told us they want the future to look like. Its purpose is to:

  • Empower our community to live healthy and active lifestyles
  • Focus on ensuring community places and spaces are vibrant, inclusive, accessible, adaptable and meet the needs of people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds
  • Strengthen connection, inclusion and opportunity for all people in our community
  • Build capacity in our communities to be connected, resilient and to respond to local issues
  • Nurture creative and innovative approaches to building a strong community.

Community engagement

Council undertook an extensive program of engagement between September 2018 and July 2019 to ensure the Community Strategy is shaped by, and reflective of, the diverse voices of our region. This engagement included focus groups, stakeholder forums, online and face-to-face surveys, pop-ups stalls, social media, internal and external stakeholder advisory group meetings, and key sector networks consultation.

Approximately 1600 community members and stakeholders contributed through this engagement, with their voices and ideas creating the Community Strategy’s shared vision for the future of the Sunshine Coast as well as influencing the outcomes, priorities and Action Plan. Community engagement will continue to be a key method of implementing and delivering the Community Strategy.

Have your say website

Council's community engagement program also gives residents the opportunity to have their say and stay informed on a range of council activities via the Have Your Say online portal.

Since the web portal launched in 2011, 159 project consultations have been listed on the Have Your Say site, which received 156,500 site visitors in 2009 (average 544 visitors per day) and 1,200 new registrations. 

Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS)

The REDS provides a 20-year vision and blueprint for sustainable economic growth for our region.

Regional business, industry and local government leaders developed the REDS and enhanced through valuable contributions from Sunshine Coast residents and community organisations.

Leadership, collaboration and identity

Industry, business and government are unanimous in their view that the region must continue to work together to provide the leadership, direction, sustained commitment and the policy settings to deliver on the REDS. This joint collaboration remains the cornerstone of this strategy and is essential for the region to secure our future.

Achievements since 2013

  • In 2018, council published the REDS Implementation Report Card 2013-2018 which highlights achievements in the first five-year cycle.
  • Council hosted REDS Taskforce meetings and events to create a shared understanding of the opportunities and collaboration for collective benefit. The seven high-value industry task forces consisted of 50 industry leaders, meeting up to six times a year each, as well as additional projects for four years.
  • One of the REDS’ 40 actions for delivery in the first five years was the development and implementation of Industry and Investment Plans (2014-2018) for the seven high-value industries which have the greatest potential for success in the new economy.

Promotional activities

Since 2013, council has promoted the REDS and region shaping projects through:

  • Monthly presentations to Chambers of Commerce and industry events.
  • A monthly TV advertisement highlighting economic, social and environmental projects.
  • A monthly insert in My Weekly Preview magazine.
  • Media releases posted to council’s website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts, with senior council staff using these platforms to share the information across their networks and the broader community.
  • Monthly business enews distributed to 2500 subscribers.
  • Annual State of the Region report delivered by the Mayor.
  • Councillors promote region shaping projects in their bi-annual newsletters to their constituents which are delivered to letter boxes and are also available online

B-Well + Prosper program

Council offers a range of programs through the REDS to support local businesses. B-Well + Prosper is an online portal that connects small business owners and their employees to information on how to establish healthy workplaces, looking after yourself, stress in the workplace - including cash flow stress, and how to manage signs of employee burn out - effectively an introductory level employee assistance program.

People’s Day

Residents and visitors were invited to explore, engage with and celebrate the new Maroochydore city centre with a free program of events, education and entertainment on 10 August 2019.

REDS Implementation Plan 2019-2023

In 2019, council published the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy Implementation Plan 2019-2023 which outlines the priorities set for delivery in the next five-year phase, in collaboration with multiple stakeholders.

Development.i

Launched in October 2018, Development.i is an Australian-first application tracking system which allows people to easily search, visualise, track and be alerted to development applications in their street, suburb, division or across the region. Home owners, concerned citizens, community groups, real estate agents, development consultants, investors, town planners and councillors can:

  • Stay informed about what is happening in their area
  • Gather information to help prepare applications
  • Make a submission or comment on a development application, and
  • Provide enhanced and simplified data to inform decision makers.

Engaging new users

  • Council targeted communication and marketing material to the general community through our promotional video.
  • A series of training videos were produced to support the rollout and engagement.

Community impact

Overall, Development.i has seen a: 

  • 27% increase in use compared to the previous system with no net impact on customer enquiries
  • 25% increased generation of free development.i site reports (4,000+ per week)
  • Over 17,000 email alerts sent to registered users
  • 25% increase in mobile use
  • Phone enquiries down 10%.

One of the more satisfying outcomes has been uptake of the platform as an education tool in the University of the Sunshine Coast’s planning curriculum, where it is helping students study the planning process, undertaking land appraisals, and strategic planning and policy making.

Additional outcomes

Development.i has not only transformed how council and the community engage on development; the platform has been used for two additional solutions which address different community and industry needs:

  • Adventure Sunshine Coast provides walking, cycling, mountain biking, horse riding and canoeing activities across the region to get people active.
  • Works Hub displays current and scheduled works and closure information across the Sunshine Coast road network.

In August 2019, Council signed an agreement that enables Development.i to be offered to other local governments around Australia.

Smart City Program

The Smart City Communications Strategy aims to raise awareness and engagement, both internally and externally, of our Smart City Program and provide an opportunity for institutions, organisations, innovators and council staff and the public to provide feedback and ideas to contribute to creating a smarter Sunshine Coast.

Another objective of the strategy is to attract investment into the Sunshine Coast (in particular the new Maroochydore City Centre) and position the Sunshine Coast as a leading smart region in Australia.

Disaster Hub

Provides up to the minute information and essential information for the community, emergency service agencies and council to ensure that the best decisions are made before, during and after disaster or emergency events.

World Environment Day

Since 1979, the Sunshine Coast Environment Council and the region’s environmental advocates have been getting together in the first week of June to celebrate World Environment Day (WED).

  • Attracts 8000+ people
  • Plastic-free event
  • Supported by 135 volunteers
  • More than 35 community groups represented
  • Local cleantech companies connect with the community through interactive exhibits and display the best in innovation from the Sunshine Coast
  • Healthy, delicious and ethical food options through conscious food vendors and cooking workshops
  • Artists share their love for the natural environment through their art form
  • Talks and workshops include presentations about the latest developments in research and industry, as well as practical initiatives people can implement in their own lives
  • Sustainable fashion takes centre stage on the red carpet where cutting edge fashion design is fused with sustainable textiles
  • Fun and informative space to wonder at the world of science, from slime-making workshops, to insects under microscopes, science shows to interstellar observations

Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC)

SCEC is the peak environmental advocacy group on the Sunshine Coast. Established in 1980, SCEC advocates for better environmental policy, supports local groups on campaigns to protect our natural landscape and marine environments, and encourages action on climate change through education and community engagement.

More information

Read more about the region-wide programs and initiatives across the awards' Intelligent Community indicators:

  • Broadband: encouraging deployment and adoption, and deploying our own networks where necessary
  • Knowledge workforce: creating economic value through knowledge, skills and ability to use information effectively
  • Innovation: creating a culture that engages the entire community in positive change
  • Digital inclusion: providing access to digital technology and connectivity, and offering digital skills training
  • Sustainability: improving the quality of life for our community.

The Sunshine Coast has been named a global Top7 Intelligent Community for the second successive year. The annual awards program recognises the accomplishments of communities in developing inclusive prosperity on a foundation of information and communications technology, based on six key indicators: Broadband, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, engagement and sustainability. The 2020 Top7 Intelligent Communities are now in the running for the prestigious Intelligent Community of the Year, to be announced in October.