Community Consultation Review


From Linda Thomas

Stage One and Stage Two of the consultation process for the Community Conservation Program (CCP) Review are now completed.  Thank you to all who participated in the survey, focus groups and online discussion.


A summary of the key findings of the consultation is provided below. Detailed reports on both Stage One and Stage Two will be available on Blue Mountains Have Your Say ( )  from 16 August 2013. Hard copies will be also available in each of Council’s branch libraries.


Stage One process


  • Online survey of eleven questions about the CCP on Blue Mountains Have Your Say
  • Survey period between 1 – 31 March 2013
  • Survey open to all current volunteers and staff involved in Council’s CCP)
  • 80 survey responses submitted (estimated 16% of all CCP volunteers)


Stage One Key Findings

The majority of respondents for the Bushcare / Landcare, Community Water Monitoring and Bush Backyards programs identified the current model as their preferred model. All Trackcare respondents preferred the alternative model.


Volunteer motivation

  • was a desire to look after the environment and reduce impacts on bushland were common motivations for joining any of Council’s CCP’s
  • Developing their skills and environmental knowledge and connecting with other local people were common motivations for joining the Bushcare / Landcare, Community Water Monitoring and Bush Backyards programs, and were also commonly cited as reasons for the continued involvement of volunteers. 
  • Trackcare respondents were also motivated to join to provide legitimate, Council-approved access to better tracks for bike riding.  
  • A strong motivation for continuing involvement for participants in all programs was the satisfaction of achieving good on ground results and development of a sense of environmental stewardship.


Level of satisfaction with Council support

  • high level of satisfaction from Bushcare / Landcare and Bush Backyards respondents
  • satisfaction level ranging from Excellent to Poor from Trackcare and Community Water Monitoring participants


There was a wide range of comments on the preferred models and additional suggestions to improve the existing programs .


Stage Two process

Three focus group workshops delivered between 20 May to 27 May 2013.

Workshop participants were an invited representative sample of 24 community volunteers and 10 Council staff. 

  •  Online survey of five questions about the CCP on Blue Mountains Have Your Say
  • Survey period between 10th May to 5th June 2013
  • 253 visitors to CCP Have Your Say made 526 site visits and made 102 comments.


A report on the results of the focus group and online discussion consultation has been provided by community engagement consultant, Straight Talk. 


Stage Two Key Findings


Key outcomes of the Focus Groups were:


  • Workshop participants saw merit in determining a common set of criteria to evaluate all program models.  Collectively, Council staff and Blue Mountains Conservation Program participants agreed on ten criteria to evaluate all Community Conservation Programs. These are:

The program:

1.  has a clear and well understood role in the community

2.  engages with volunteers and has community ownership

3.  actively educates and promotes environmental stewardship

4.  is trusted by Council, volunteers and the wider community

5.  is consistently/ securely funded ; well-resourced and cost effective

6.  attracts consistent rates of volunteer participation

7.  has measurable outcomes:

  • Social benefits
  • Environmental improvements
  • Economic (financial)benefits

8.  manages risk well and has good governance (processes)

9.  meets a community demand/ need

10.  helps support Council outcomes / responsibilities


  •  Council staff and volunteers identified their preferred model for each Conservation


These are:

  • B2 ( current model) for Bushcare and Landcare (including Swampcare)
  • B1 ( current Bushcare model preferred to either of the Trackcare models) for Trackcare (bikes)
  • T2 (current model) for Trackcare (climbers)
  • BB3 ( current model) for Bush Backyards
  • S1 ( current model) for Community Water Monitoring (Streamwatch)


  • Potential modifications to each of the preferred models were identified to strengthen  each model.


Key themes of the online forum responses were:


Q. What do you most like about Council’s CCP?

A. The service provided by Council Bushcare Officers


Q. What do you least like about Council’s CCP?

A. Insufficient communication with and support of the program by the rest of Council


Q. What is your preferred model and why?

A. The current Bushcare model B2 was strongly preferred to B1 and the current Bush Backyards model BB3 was preferred to the other Bush Backyard models.

16 commenters responded to what they liked about other models and the answers were very diverse.


Q. If Council changed the way it supported the Community Conservation Program what would you be most concerned about?

A. Responses were overwhelmingly concerned with the role of Bushcare Officers and the perception that their role and numbers would be cut if Council funding was reduced.



What  happens next ?

The outcome of this consultation process will now be used as the basis for a draft Community Conservation Program Strategy which will be submitted to the Council for consideration in October 2013, with further consultation to be undertaken thereafter. (Stage Three consultation)


After the public exhibition period of the draft Community Conservation Program Strategy , all comments and submissions will be considered in the preparation of a final Strategy which is anticipated to be submitted to the Council for approval in early 2014.