In the Adelaide suburb of Glenunga, a new community hub was proposed and a community consultation conducted in order to better understand the community's needs.
Problems and Purpose
Glenunga is a suburb in the South Australian city of Adelaide. It is in the local government area (local council) of Burnside. In October 2008 Burnside council dicussed the possibility of developing a new community hub in the area. The impetus for this was the underuse or poor state of other local parks and facilities. However, it was decided that before proceeding, a feasibility study ought to be undertaken to determine the perceived need for a community and sports hub, and assess the community's needs and views.
The purpose of the 'needs analysis and feasibility study' was ultimately to do just that - assess the needs of the community regarding the hub, and determine how feasible the project was. The aim was not to engage with the actual planning process, which was dependent on exogenous factors like funding (City of Burnside 2009, p5).
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The engagement process was instigated by the City of Burnside council and funded by them. $50,000 (AUD) was set aside to develop the proposal for the community hub, although it's not clear how much of this went towards the community consultation stage of the proposal. The community engagement process was organised by Simply Speaking Seanachai, and the feasibility study report prepared by Hames Sharley, an architects firm.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Five focus groups were held with two for local sports and social clubs, and three for the local community. It is not clear how participants were recruited to take part. 15 people attended the former and 24 the latter.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The Glenunga engagement employed the 'focus group' methodology which asks participants for feedback on pre-defined issues and courses of action.
Two sets of focus groups were held, with stakeholders (sports and social clubs) and the local community. The content for each varied slightly, with the sports and social club groups focussing on specific issues such as the membership numbers and whether there had been a growth or slump in the numbers of people using the club or sports facilities. Participants also discussed what they did not want to see happen in terms of a future community hub.
The community focus groups were held over two mornings and one evening. During these sessions, a technique called 'focussed conversations' was used to help guide discussion. This method divides the conversation up into manageable, natural ways of discussing a topic. Overall there was general support for the development of a multi-purpose community hub that could be used by different sports clubs and with other facilities.
In addition to the focus groups, members of the community also made written submissions; these comments reflected the feelings expressed in the community focus groups.
Participants were asked to evaluate the focus group sessions to contribute to an ongoing effort to improve community engagement, but only a small number of evaluation forms were turned in. Out of the smaller pool of evaluation data, feedback was positive with people feeling that they had gained something from the experience of participating (Hames Sharley 2009, p29).
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Following the feasibility study, Burnside council decided to pursue the community hub project, since the consultation "identified that there was both an opportunity for improvement and general interest within the community for the development of a hub that is available for the whole community" (City of Burnside 2012). Following this, a further community consultation was undertaken to inform the development of the community hub and in 2012 the council approved the Master Plan for the Glenunga community hub (City of Burnside 2012).
The new Glenunga Community Hub was opened in February 2016.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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City of Burnside Council (2012) Complete background to the Glenunga community hub project [pdf - attached below]
Hames Sharley (2009) Glenunga Community Hub Feasibility Study: needs analysis report [pdf], available at: http://www.simplyspeaking.net.au/uploads/6/2/4/4/6244578/glenunga_commun...
The following entry was summarised from Simply Speaking Seanachai's website.