A series of community engagements on waste management using an open web forum, a telephone survey, and two deliberative forums. Close to 1,500 people participated and the results of the consultation helped inform the council's draft waste management strategy.
Problems and Purpose
In preparation for drafting a new waste and water resource management strategy, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council in Victoria, Australia embarked on a community engagement program to seek input and feedback from the public on three key areas:
Household kerbside collection service: Are there ways the kerbside service can be enhanced to continue to deliver an efficient and effective service and support the community to maximise resource recovery?
Resource recovery infrastructure: Are there ways the Shire’s waste disposal infrastructure and services can be enhanced to meet the needs of the community and maximise resource recovery?
Landfill: How can the Shire best provide for the disposal of its waste to landfill in the short to medium term?
and: How should Council continue to support development of Alternative Waste Technologies?
(Chit Chat 2014, p1)
Background History and Context
Waste management is often a contentious issue, and this is no different in Mornington Peninsula. The Shire's main landfill site is due to be full by 2017, meaning that the question of where waste goes is somewhat. In addition to reducing landfill waste for practical reasons, a high proportion of the region's greenhouse gas emissions are generated from landfill. The council is committed to sustainability as evidenced in its 'Sustainable Peninsula' project that launched in 2002 (Mornington Peninsula Shire 2012). Previously, the council has also embarked on community engagement programs along this theme, including Morning Peninsula Shire Conversations.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The engagement program was convened and funded by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. Surveys and communication materials used to promote the process were developed by Out of the Box Consulting, an independent marketing consultancy. The deliberative forums were designed and facilitated by Chit Chat, but is also listed as a MosaicLab project and a Fire Light Consulting project. This is probably due to the fact that often facilitators working on a single project together are individually associated with different organisations.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The online forum was open to all and attracted 3,000 unique visitors and 1,000 active participants.
A random demographic sample of citizens was contacted for a telephone survey and a total of 348 surveys were completed.
All 146 Participants in the two deliberative forums were self-selecting and representatives were present from all but one township on the peninsula (Chit Chat 2014, p3-4).
Methods and Tools Used
An online forum where people could discuss ongoing issues related to waste management was set up and attracted 3,000 unique visitors. Out of these, 1,000 actively participated through reviewing content or contributing to discussions.
A telephone survey gathered input from a random demographic sample of citizens from the majority of townships across Mornington Peninsula. This was conducted by an independent telemarketing company. In total, 348 surveys were completed.
Two deliberative forums were held with 146 attendees in total. Participants in the forums were self-selecting and all but one township on the peninsula was represented (Chit Chat 2014, p3-4).
The council also used a variety of techniques to inform as many people as possible about the waste management issues affecting the local area, such as open information sessions, meetings with local community groups and stakeholders, and regular updates on the council website (Chit Chat 2014, p2).
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Deliberation
The forum was held over two evenings, each lasting three hours. The first session focused on information sharing, ensuring that participants received the relevant information from different perspectives. A community representative and landfill industry representative spoke, as a well as a speaker who informed the group about alternatives to landfill. These presentations were designed to give context to the issue and enable participants to think more broadly about waste management. They also provided catalysts for attendees to start their own conversations. The second session asked participants to make decisions on what they thought was the best way forward for waste management in Mornington. Decisions were made by voting through a clicker system, whereby each participant could vote anonymously through a clicker on which options they preferred (Keith Graves 2014). Participants could vote according to their preference on the option (rather than yes or no) on a scale of 'love it' to 'loathe it' including 'I can live with it' (Chit Chat 2014, p37).
The council sought to reach as many members of the local community as possible. Part of this objective was also to inform as many people as possible about the waste management issues affecting the local area - as well as gathering community input. A number of strategies were used to keep people informed of the engagement process, alongside the process itself, including:
- information sessions
- info on the council website
- meetings with local community groups
- radio interview
- brochures and flyers
- letters and phone calls to stakeholder groups and local residents (Chit Chat 2014, p2)
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The consultation results were used to feed into the council's draft waste management strategy. The strategy takes note of the engagement process and also notes a second round of consultation where the public were invited to comment on the draft bill. Ultimately, the council's strategy seems to be broadly in line with the preferences expressed by participants at the deliberative forum about the reduction of landfill waste. In particular, the council decided to close the Rye landfill site in 2018 and is currently seeking expressions of interest for alternative sites/operators (Mornington Peninsula Shire Council 2015). The idea of moving landfill to an alternative site off the peninsula was most preferred by attendees at the deliberative forum.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Want to contribute an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!
Morning Peninsula Shire Conversations
Chit Chat(2014) Let's talk waste consultation report [pdf], available at: http://www.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Your-Property/Rubbish-Recycling/Strategies...
Keith Graves (2014) Let's talk waste [YouTube], 8 December, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9u_EkRSFUE
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (2012) Sustainable peninsula ten years on [pdf], available at: http://edit.aquabelle.com.au/uploads/media_items/sustainable-peninsula-b...
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (2015) Municipal waste management strategy [online], available at: http://www.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Your-Property/Rubbish-Recycling/Strategies...
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council