Step 1 - Prepare to engage

In this guide

Step checklist

  1. Determine your engagement purpose, background and objectives
  2. Determine your stakeholders’ scope of influence
  3. Identify stakeholders and the required level of engagement
  4. Charter principles in action

How to complete this step

  1. Discuss as a project team what your engagement purpose is, the background and your objectives. These will ultimately form part of your engagement plan.

    You may also consider developing key messages that can be adapted from your purpose and objectives.

    Why this is important

    To have clear project team agreement on what is being engaged on and why.

    Engagement activities start from this point. To properly plan your engagement you need to know what engagement has already been done, so you can decide where to direct your effort.

    Defining what you are engaging on will enable you to craft your engagement purpose, objectives and develop the messages for engagement.

    How to do it

    Define what you are doing:

    • What planning policy, strategy or scheme are you engaging on?
    • Is the policy, strategy or scheme new or being amended?
    • Why is the engagement being initiated, what are the:
      • key drivers
      • issues to be resolved
      • opportunities to maximise
    • any relevant background or history to consider
    • Which location or area does this apply to?

    Your engagement approach will depend on the type of planning instrument you are engaging on regarding the:

    • participation required, as outlined in the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Spectrum
    • impact that the decision may have on stakeholders and communities
    • how much influence stakeholders and communities have on the decision.


    Engagement purpose To engage on an amendment to the Planning and Design Code
    Engagement background

    The area in question is currently zoned as Residential and is adjacent a major road transport corridor.

    The State Planning Policies and Regional Plan seek to manage the impacts of population growth by enabling residential growth through infill development.

    The area in question is characterised by low density housing stock. This, along with the area’s proximity to transport options, provides the opportunity for infill and higher density residential development.

    As such, it is proposed that the zone be amended from Residential to Urban Corridor, which allows for higher densities of development.

    Engagement objectives

    • To gain input from community and stakeholders to inform the amendment
    • To obtain localised knowledge and perspective to inform the amendment
    • To ensure stakeholders can provide early input to inform the amendment
    • To ensure that all affected and interested stakeholders have the ability to provide input
    • To provide easy to understand written and graphic materials that explain and demonstrate the impacts of the proposed change on the scale of built form in the area

  2. Determine the scope of influence of all affected communities/stakeholders.

    Highlight what aspects of the proposal are negotiable (open to change) and those which are not negotiable (not open for change).

    Why this is important

    It is important that communities understand what aspects of the proposal they can influence and those they can't.

    Scope of influence refers to what stakeholders can do something about. Determining the scope of influence will help you identify engagement activities in Step 2.

    The scope of influence should be clearly stated in all communication materials related to the engagement.

    How to do it

    You need to identify the extent to which communities can influence the final outcome when they participate in engagement activities.

    There may be aspects of a proposed planning instrument that are negotiable and not negotiable.

    Negotiable aspects of the proposal can be influenced, for example the specific conditions within a zone amendment.

    Not negotiable aspects cannot be influenced, for example the geographic extent of a zone amendment or legislative requirements.

  3. Conduct a stakeholder and community analysis to identify stakeholders that you need to engage.

    Consider which characteristics of your stakeholders and community will need to be accommodated in the design of your engagement

    Why this is important

    Have project team agreement on:

    • who your stakeholders are
    • their interest in the proposal
    • the level of participation they will have.

    This will determine the ‘reach’ of your engagement and the activities you later identify. Relevant councils should be engaged, as they have understanding of stakeholders and other aspects of their areas.

    Stakeholder categories help identify the relevant stakeholders. Categories include:

    • social
    • environmental
    • economic
    • state and local government
    • community/interest groups
    • industry
    • adjacent property owners or occupiers.

    How to do it

    To determine the level of engagement required, the IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum is a recommended tool, as it is well known and used by councils.

    The Spectrum is also the foundation of the South Australian Government's Better Together program. Other engagement frameworks can be used to determine your approach to engagement.

    There are two steps for identifying the levels of participation for your engagement:

    1. Identify stakeholders and communities who may have an interest or be impacted by the proposal and what the interest or impact is.
    2. Identify the level of engagement required for each stakeholder group by considering the above.

    ‘Reach’ refers to who are the targets of the engagement and whose participation is desired. This could be people impacted by the decision and others that have a particular interest. ‘Reach’ can be defined by:

    • a locality
    • geographical area
    • people
    • communities or groups.


  4. Through the lens of the Charter principles, consider how the characteristics of your stakeholders will need to be considered in the design of your engagement.

    Consider how to demonstrate the impact of policy changes through visual and graphic means.

    Why this is important

    Every community is unique. You may need to work with stakeholders from different cultural, professional or religious backgrounds. Considering particular needs or preferences in how your stakeholders engage will help maximise the engagement outcomes.

    How to do it

    After you identify your stakeholders and communities, consider how the Charter principles may apply to them.

    So that stakeholders have the best opportunity to contribute to the engagement, remember to address the following:

    • cultural needs
    • age-related needs or preferences
    • language needs
    • preferred means of communication
    • accessibility requirements for example physical ability, timing and location of engagement
    • existing schedules or forums for stakeholder meetings such as meeting frequency of councils, boards or community groups

    These considerations will inform the engagement activities developed in Step 2.




    Engagement need or avenue

    Chinese community

    Information brochure in Mandarin

    Climate change officers in local government

    Local Government Climate Change Officers Group

    Regional community with limited internet

    Hard copy materials in community hubs (e.g. libraries and sporting clubs)