Community Outcomes

The Local Government Act 2002 and community outcomes

Community outcomes are what New Zealanders want for their local community, now and in the future.

Under section 5 of the Act, community outcomes
(a) means the outcomes for that district or region that are identified as priorities for the time being through a process
(b) includes any additional outcomes subsequently identified through community consultation by the local authority as important to the current or future social, economic, environmental, or cultural well-being of the community.

The LGA 2002 emphasises the importance of community participation in local decision-making. The LGA 2002 strengthens community participation by establishing community outcomes processes, which ensure that community aspirations are understood and can be used to guide and inform the activities of organisations in the community.

The LGA 2002 requires local authorities to lead community outcomes processes in their area. The processes include helping the community to identify what it thinks is most important to its future well-being – their community outcomes.

Under section 91 of the Act the purpose of identifying community outcomes is:

  • to provide the opportunity for communities to discuss their desired outcomes in terms of their present and future social, environmental, economic and cultural well-being
  • to allow communities to discuss the relative importance and priorities of outcomes they identify
  • to provide scope to measure progress towards achieving community outcomes
  • to promote better co-ordination and application of community resources
  • to inform and guide the priorities and activities of local authorities, and other organisations.

Under the LGA 2002, local authorities may decide for themselves the best way to carry out community outcomes processes, so long as

  • the public is encouraged to participate
  • the local authority identifies other organisations that are capable of contributing to community outcomes processes
  • the local authority secures the agreement of these organisations in the processes, if practicable.

Local authorities are required by section 93 of the LGA 2002 to have a long-term council community plan (LTCCP). The LTCCP explains what the community outcomes are for that area, and how the community is working towards achieving them.

Under schedule 10 of the Act, the long-term council community plan:

  • describes what the community outcomes are
  • describes how the community outcomes were identified
  • describes how the local authority will contribute to achieving community outcomes
  • describes how the community outcomes relate to other key planning documents
  • outlines how local authorities will work with other groups on community outcomes (this includes other local authorities, Māori, central government, non-government organisations, and the private sector)
  • states how the local authority will measure progress on community outcomes
  • states how the local authority will monitor and report on the community’s progress towards achieving community outcomes.

The LTCCP is the key local authority planning document. The plan links what the local authority does with what local people see as important for their future well-being.

Local authorities have the responsibility for monitoring the community’s progress towards community outcomes. This must be reported back to the community, at least every three years.

The LGA 2002 sends strong signals that central government agencies should become involved in the community outcomes process. The activities of central government agencies contribute to achieving community outcomes, although central government has no prescribed role in the community outcomes process under the Act. The intention of the LGA 2002 is that central government agencies will support and work with local authorities to achieve community outcomes.

What are community outcomes processes?

Community outcomes processes include:

  • identifying community outcomes
  • using the outcomes to inform long term plans and build working relationships
  • actions for achieving community outcomes
  • monitoring and reporting community outcomes.

Community outcomes processes are co-ordinated by local authorities throughout New Zealand, under the Local Government Act 2002.

Local authorities decide how they undertake community outcomes processes in their area. The process must encourage public participation in identifying community outcomes. Local authorities are required to consult with their communities about their outcomes at least every six years.

Purpose of community outcomes processes

Under Section 91 of the Local Government Act, the purpose of community outcomes processes are to:

  • clarify what the community really wants
  • provide the community with an opportunity to discuss it’s present situation, and its vision for the future
  • allow the community to prioritise its goals
  • give the community the opportunity to influence, inform and guide the long term plans of local authorities, central government agencies and other organisations that work in their area
  • encourage the community and organisations working in the community to build relationships and work together to achieve community outcomes
  • check on the progress being made to achieve community outcomes.

Community outcomes processes encourage people to think and talk about what they want for their future. Organisations in the community can use the results of discussions about community outcomes as a guide to their work in the area.

The process encourages organisations to combine their efforts and resources, towards the goals that communities themselves have identified.

Community outcomes processes

  • stimulate debate about local needs and priorities
  • inform and guide the plans of local authorities and other agencies
  • get local authorities and other agencies, such as central government, working together
  • encourage local people to take part in local affairs
  • provide a way for communities to measure their progress.

(Source: KnowHow Guide to the Local Government Act: an overview. LGNZ, SOLGM, DIA, 2003, p31)

Who is involved?

There are a wide range of organisations in the community that contribute to community outcomes processes.

Groups who can contribute to community outcomes include:

  • local authorities – regional, district and city councils
  • central government agencies
  • community and non-government organisations
  • the private sector – e.g. business and industry
  • Māori and iwi groups.

Local authorities have a central role in co-ordinating community outcomes processes in their area, under the Local Government Act 2002.

The Local Government Act 2002 does not explicitly require central government to participate in community outcomes processes. Section 91 of the Act does state that community outcomes are intended to inform and guide the activities of groups working in the community. The intention of the Act is that government agencies in particular will contribute to community outcomes processes where appropriate, and work with local authorities and other groups to achieve community outcomes.

The steps in community outcomes processes

Local authorities decide the best way to carry out community outcomes processes in their area. However, local authorities must ensure that the process encourages their communities to join in and have their voice heard.

Identifying other organisations

Local authorities must identify other organisations capable of influencing the community outcomes process. If possible, local authorities must secure the agreement of these organisations to participate in the process.

Consultation

Through conversations led by their local authority, the community can discuss and identify the things local people think are important for their future. Through these conversations, community outcomes are identified.

Community outcomes belong to the local community and can be changed only through consultation with the community.

Some of the ways local authorities consulted with their communities to identify current community outcomes included:

public meetings questionnaires
workshops interactive displays
hui focus groups
surveys media releases
open days newsletters & papers
road shows

By consulting in different and innovative ways, local authorities reach a diverse range of people in their communities. The more robust the consultation process, the more useful community outcomes are for decision-making.

Community outcomes consultation takes place at least every six years.

Section 82 of the Local Government Act 2002 sets out the principles of consultation. Local authorities must follow these principles when consulting with their community.

Local authorities must also have specific policies in place to consult with Māori.

Prioritising outcomes

The consultation process gives communities the chance to prioritise their outcomes, to further guide the plans and actions of organisations in the community.

Identifying community outcomes

Local authorities must identify the community outcomes in their long-term council community plans (LTCCP).

Including the community outcomes in the LTCCP encourages:

  • a clear understanding of what the community wants for their future well-being
  • an understanding of how the activities of local authorities and other organisations contribute to these goals
  • accountability of local authorities to their communities.

Monitoring and reporting

Under section 92 of the Local Government Act 2002, local authorities have a responsibility to monitor the progress that the community is making on its community outcomes. The results must be reported back to the community at least every three years. Local authorities decide for themselves the processes used to monitor and report on community outcomes.

Monitoring and reporting enables an evaluation of existing strategies and plans, and the identification of emerging trends. This helps improve plans, activities and future decision making.

Working to achieve community outcomes

Organisations can use the results of community outcomes processes to guide their work in the community.

Many of the activities of organisations such as local authorities, central government agencies and community groups contribute to community outcomes in some way. This may be through providing services, funding, support, amenities or other resources.

In most cases no single agency will be able to achieve community outcomes by itself. Organisations need to work together and with local people to progress community well-being.

Community outcomes processes provide the opportunity for organisations to find ways to work together and achieve common goals for their community.

Local authorities are required to show how their activities contribute to community outcomes in their long-term council community plan. They must also show which other organisations they are working with to achieve community outcomes.

Source : http://www.communityoutcomes.govt.nz

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