Why is Council setting up a community panel to develop its Customer Service Charter?

We want to provide great customer service. In order to achieve this, we think it’s important to collaboratively develop our Customer Service Charter with the people it affects most – our customers.

The community panel offers an opportunity for 30 randomly selected, representative community members to be provided with enough time and information to dive deeper into the issues and matters that affect customers and customer service most. The panel, together with a wider engagement process and an employee panel process, forms part of a co-design approach to developing a more genuine and implementable charter.

What is a community panel?

Establishing a community panel is one method of running a ‘deliberative’ community engagement process. 

A deliberative process puts the community and stakeholders at the centre of a decision. This type of process also usually included broader community input (which is often considered by the representative group in their deliberations), and is inclusive of all voices.

Deliberative processes involve randomly and independently selected group of everyday people that are broadly representative of the demographics of a wider community coming together to discuss and make recommendations on an issue. The group usually meets over several days, and their discussions are supported by professional facilitators.

These representatives have access to all the information they need to have an in-depth conversation, are given sufficient time to properly consider that information and directly present their findings to decision-makers, having a real impact on the issue or decision at hand.

How will the panel be selected?

The community panel will be independently and randomly selected by an external contractor. Invitations to participate were distributed by mail to approximately 10,000 random addresses in Kingston and those who received an invitation were asked to register their interest to participate.

Using census data to ensure the final panel is broadly representative of the City of Kingston in terms of age, gender and geography, 30 panel members will then be randomly selected from this group of people who have registered.

Council has no influence over the selection process, and the panel will be broadly representative of the demographics of the wider Kingston community.

How will the broader community be involved and informed?

It’s important that everyone has an opportunity to have their say and provide ideas and input for the community panel to consider.

That’s why everyone is invited to complete an online (or hard copy) survey, or complete a submission during August and September. This input will be collated into a wider engagement report that will be considered by the community panel. You can also register to observe a panel session.

To ensure a diverse range of views are heard and included in the process, targeted discussions will also be held with groups that are usually less likely to participate in a survey or submission process such as youth, people with a disability and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Will members of the panel be paid?

The panellists will meet for almost three full days outside of work hours, a significant commitment in representing their community. Each participant will receive $250 in recognition of their time and to cover any costs associated with participating.

What will the panel be asked to do?

The panel will be asked to consider the following question:

Council wants to deliver great customer service. We need to find a balance between meeting diverse community expectations and budget constraints. How do we do this?

The panel will work together (with the support of professional facilitators) to consider a wide range of inputs, ideas and evidence, discuss this question and decide a response. This response will be detailed in a report that the panel members will create together and present to Council. 

What evidence will the panel consider to make its recommendations?

The Community Panel will consider a range of evidence it its deliberations including (but not limited to):

  • data and information provided by Council on its customer service performance, systems and processes, including a background paper prepared by Council and all materials referenced in the paper
  • a wider engagement report detailing results of broad community consultation activities run over August and September
  • expert speaker presentations – including from speakers nominated and requested by the panel itself
  • information and data requested by the panel itself. 

What will happen with the panel’s recommendations?

The community panel will develop recommendations that will be presented by the panellists directly to the City of Kingston and will be used to shape the new customer service charter.

An employee panel made up of both appointed and randomly selected staff members from across the Council’s various service areas will then use the community panel’s recommendations to develop a final version of the customer service charter.

Has this process been done before by Council?

This is an exciting new engagement approach for the City of Kingston, and the first time we have included deliberation as part of an engagement process. We think it’s a great opportunity to work together with our community to weigh up information, make decisions and develop recommendations.

What is the role of the employee panel?

The employee panel (made up of both appointed and randomly selected staff members from across the Council’s various service areas) will meet over a few days in November. The staff panel will be independently selected, and will be broadly representative of the City of Kingston’s diverse staff team. This group’s discussions will also be supported professional facilitators.

The employee panel’s role is to consider and discuss the community panel’s report, and use the recommendations in this report to create a customer service charter which is ready to undergo final approval by Council and graphic design.

What is Council's role in the process?

Council has engaged MosaicLab, a team of experienced engagement practitioners and facilitators specialising in high influence engagement and deliberative democracy, to coordinate widespread community and employee engagement.

Council will work with Mosaic Lab to provide all the necessary information and support that is required to make this engagement process a success, including by remaining neutral and not having a stake or interest in the content or outcome.

Where can I get more information?

You can find more information at yourkingstonyoursay.com.au/customerservice or by calling our friendly Customer Service team on 1300 653 356.