Strategic Community Plan

​​​​​​​​The Strategic Community Plan outlines community long term (10+ years) vision, values, aspirations and priorities, with reference to other local government plans, information and resourcing capabilities.

The Strategic Community Plan outlines community long term (10+ years) vision, values, aspirations and priorities, with reference to other local government plans, information and resourcing capabilities. The Strategic Community Plan is not static. A full review is required every four years with a desktop review every two years.

The Strategic Community Plan:

  • Establishes the community's vision for the local government's future, including aspirations and service expectations.
  • Drives the development of local government area/place/regional plans, resourcing and other informing strategies, for example workforce, asset management and services, and
  • Will ultimately be a driver for all other planning.

The integration of asset, service and financial plans means the local government's resource capabilities are matched to their community's needs.

Where structural reform is being put in place, this integrated approach to planning will help the new local government entities identify and meet the requirements of the local community.

Related resources

Community engagement

Engaging with your community is essential for the development of a Strategic Community Plan. Community engagement is a tool to identify the long term goals and priorities of your community. This can be done through a range of activities including surveys, meetings, on-line forums and facilitated workshops.

  • Using engagement processes to have a conversation with your community.
  • Designing and planning the engagement process.
  • Implementing the community engagement process.

Engagement process

Conversation with your community:

  • the engagement process
  • core values and principles
  • engaging diverse communities.

Designing and planning

Designing and planning the engagement process:

  • knowing your community
  • tools and resources
  • identifying community aspirations/priorities.

Implementing engagement

Implementing the process:

  • engagement methods
  • community feedback
  • evaluating engagement.

Using engagement processes to have a conversation with your community

What is the engagement process?

Community engagement is "any process that involves the public in solving problems or making decisions, and uses public input to make decisions" (IAP2, 2006).  Meaningful community engagement is a critical component in the development of the Strategic Community Plan, underpinning the Integrated Planning and Reporting process. It provides an opportunity for the community to have input into decision-making and setting the direction of the local government authority.

Strong leadership to support the engagement process from the Chief Executive Officer, Executive team and Elected Members will play a significant role in developing a Strategic Community Plan.

Core values and principles

The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is an international leader in community engagement providing a recognised global standard for best practice. This in turn will help local governments to make better decisions that reflect the interests and concerns of the broad community.

IAP2 Core Values and Principles can help organisations, decision-makers and practitioners make better decisions and the IAP2 Spectrum assists in selecting the level of participation that defines the public's role.

Engaging diverse communities

The diversity of the local community is a crucial consideration when planning an engagement process. There are 'hard to reach' groups that are often neglected due to a range of barriers that inhibit their participation, such as age, gender, ethnicity, language and mobility. Such groups include culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD), Indigenous, youth, children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Many local governments utilise diverse methods and techniques for working with stakeholders. They play an important leadership role by building key partnerships in order to meet the identified needs of a diverse and representative range of community members.

For some useful examples of community engagement practices please view the following links.

Designing and planning the engagement process

Know and understand your community

It is essential to understand the demographic profile of your community and the various groups of interest as part of your community profiling.

It is also important to be aware of key issues that are important to your community. Designing and Planning the Engagement Process should cover this important aspect.

How do you identify community aspirations and priorities?

What different techniques, tools or models can you use to identify community aspirations and priorities? How can you encourage community participation to create a Strategic Community Plan that will provide a clear direction and a shared vision? Selecting the engagement tools and techniques that are most appropriate to your community is critical. Determining clear engagement objectives will assist in deciding the best engagement format.

There is a range of tools and techniques available that can be used to deliver your engagement process. It is important to have a good understanding of your chosen techniques, including the benefits and challenges of each. This will assist in meeting the expectations of both your internal and external stakeholders and identify community aspirations and priorities.

A number of well established models are available to generate the opportunities to provide information such as the Oregon model, Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and Appreciative Inquiry. These models can help to define your visioning process.

Identifying Community Aspirations and Priorities Selecting the right engagement techniques to give community members an opportunity to provide input is crucial.

How do you identify community aspirations and priorities?

When selecting techniques there will be several considerations:

  • What you are trying to find out, for example what information are you seeking?
  • How many people you would like engage with?
  • How does the community prefer to be engaged with, for example what will facilitate the most meaningful engagement?
  • What is the resourcing capacity of the local government?
  • What are your timeframes?

How will you engage with your community?

  • How clear will the community's voice be in the Strategic Community Plan (SCP)?
  • Will you use language that can be easily understood by your community?
  • Can you encourage innovative engagement practices?
  • Will you have an all-organisational approach?

In choosing the most appropriate techniques a local government can ask:

  • What are the benefits and limitations of each engagement technique?
  • Which technique(s) will elicit the greatest participation?
  • Which techniques are the most cost-effective?
  • Which techniques are most innovative?
  • Which techniques are the most socially inclusive?

What resources will you need to do this?

What are the human, financial and physical resources you will need to generate positive engagement opportunities with your community?

A cost effective approach to broad community engagement is to build upon any existing process, resources or events (i.e. existing local activities, events or meetings that brings the community together).

Community engagement will require significant resources. The Community Engagement Plan should identify the resourcing capacities required for an effective engagement process.


  • Can your local government identify the role and skills of all staff members in the engagement process?
  • Can your local government foster the leadership and commitment to engage with the community?
  • Will your local government embed community engagement into the organisation and its practices?
  • Can your local government create opportunity for a shared process where both staff and councillors become involved?
  • Should your local government consider use of an independent facilitator to create balance and neutrality?


  • What are the materials needed?
  • What locations are suitable for each of the engagement techniques to be used?
  • Are the locations suitable to reach your diverse community members?
  • What existing activities or events can you leverage off?


  • Has an estimated budget been developed for the engagement process?

Informing information

  • What is your baseline?
  • What informing documents will assist the engagement strategy (for example Asset Management and Long Term Financial Plans)?
  • What existing plans could be used to inform your engagement process (such as a Plan for Future, Corporate Plan, Service Plan or community, youth or senior plans)?


  • Has sufficient time been allowed to plan and promote engagement and encourage participation?
  • Have other factors been considered such as school holidays or community or state events?
  • Has a timeline been developed?

Bringing the engagement plan together

To bring everything together to deliver the best outcomes requires effective and thorough community engagement planning. Developing a robust project plan is a key element of good engagement. You may plan your engagement using your organisation's existing project planning framework or adapt methodologies from other sources, such as IAP2's planning templates.

The Queensland Government and the IAP2 resources are both excellent starting points when planning your engagement approach.

Designing and planning the engagement process should answer the key questions:

  • What does your community look like?
  • What are the current issues that you need to be aware of?


  • Why are you engaging?
  • What do you want to find out?
  • What is the demographic profile of your community?
  • When is a good time to engage?
  • Are there other Council projects that may impact on the quality of engagement to develop an SCP?
  • Consideration of the Regulatory requirements and Advisory Standard


  • Who are you targeting?
  • How will you reach these groups/ community members?
  • Have you developed a stakeholder communication plan?
  • What about your internal stakeholders and decision makers - what is their view of community engagement?
  • How will you capture the visions, aspirations and objectives of the community?
  • What is the level of engagement or participation you have chosen?
  • What techniques will work?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Have you completed a risk assessment?
  • Have you incorporated an evaluation strategy for the engagement process?
  • Consideration of the Regulatory requirements and Advisory Standard

How do you bring it all together?

Engagement process
  • Do you have a clear picture of the desired outcome?
  • Have you committed resources to the project?
  • Have the roles of elected members, staff and independent facilitators been established?
  • Is the process to be articulated within the local government? Or to the community?
Engagement planning
  • Planning is essential to the engagement strategy; Customising templates (fro example IAP2) may be useful to assist alignment with the selected methodology.
  • The scale and scope of engagement will have implications on resource allocations and costs.
Engagement project management

Consider the use of project management tools governing the tasks/ timelines schedule, updates and changes records management and reporting.

Case studies

Implementing the engagement process

Delivering your community engagement

Selecting the best engagement methods to achieve the desired level of community participation requires careful consideration. Think about innovative and diverse techniques that can encourage participation and reach intended audiences across your community.

While choosing engagement methods consider utilising diverse and innovative techniques to reach all parts of your community.

What did the community say?

Once you have obtained feedback from the community, it will be necessary to analyse the results. Identifying key and common themes in the feedback is integral to the development of the Strategic Community Plan.

  • The City of Subiaco Think2030 Visioning Summary gives a broad overview of the community engagement activities undertaken during Stage 2 of the project, as well as the results and conclusions.
  • The City of Port Phillip Community Plan 2007-2017 articulates the key contributions influencing the concepts and organising structure of the Community Plan as well as detailing how progress is reported back to the community.
  • Maitland City Council has a series of reports stemming from community engagement.
  • The City of Swan's Community Engagement Framework 'Toolkit 6' highlights the importance of feedback to community engagement participants.

Checking the analysis is right

To maintain transparency, you may like to provide the community with an additional opportunity to check that an authentic community voice has been captured. It is important to use community language, and to not filter, reinterpret or translate the community's voice as far as possible.

Evaluating the engagement process

Evaluating the engagement process will also ensure that future engagement will keep the document up to date.

Engagement evaluation

Determining whether the goals and objectives of engagement were achieved:

  • Who will be involved in the evaluation?
  • How will you interpret the merits and results of the engagement process?
  • What evidence of performance, success and opportunities will be collated?
  • Is there a need for more engagement?

Engagement reporting

  • Does the evaluation focus on both the outcomes and the process of engagement?
  • Did the engagement process meet the community's expectations?
  • What processes exist for ensuring the analysis is accurate?
  • Are the outcomes from the process reportable to the community?
  • What continuous improvements can be generated?
  • What analysis can feed into any future reviews?
Page reviewed 01 May 2023