Community engagement

Engagement approach during COVID-19

Our engagement approach has been adapted to reflect the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions as outlined by the Australian Government from March 2020. We will offer both face-to-face consultation meetings as well as virtual, online and contactless options.

In each region we will be providing:

  • Webinars
  • Face-to-face events with COVID-19 safe practices in place
  • One-on-one phone calls including a survey
  • ‘Have your say website’ including an online and fillable submission form
  • ‘What We Heard’ reports summarising engagement outcomes

We have been advised by the Aboriginal Water Coalition that face-to-face engagement with Aboriginal people is preferable, therefore, in light of COVID-19, we should pause our engagement until restrictions ease. All planned face-to-face meetings with Aboriginal communities in the Gwydir, Macquarie-Castlereagh and Lachlan regions occurred prior to COVID-19 restrictions, enabling these documents to proceed to public exhibition.

We continue to work with the Aboriginal Water Coalition to plan engagement across all regions to ensure a balance between COVID-19 restrictions and the preference for face-to-face engagement.

The COVID-19 engagement approach is continually reviewed in line with the Australian Government requirements.

Our engagement approach for the regional water strategies program is to inform, gain information and feedback and collaborate with key stakeholders on the development of each strategy.  We will do this using a range of fit for purpose engagement tools.

Our approach is based on the Public Participation Spectrum developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2 Spectrum) and the department's Community Engagement Policy.

We recognise that engaging with stakeholders and the community leads to better public policy outcomes, improved service delivery and enhanced customer satisfaction.

The regional water strategies engagement program comprises four phases aligned with the preparation and implementation approach for each of the strategies.

Engagement process

Also available to download in high resolution (JPG 208.5 KB).

  1. During the pre-release phase we will have initial discussions with Aboriginal peak groups as well as councils, local water utilities, joint organisations and Aboriginal communities in each region. During these meetings we are providing an overview of the regional water strategies program and our process. Our focus is to understand the regional challenges and future water needs, and discuss potential options.
  2. During the public exhibition phase we will be informing the broader community of the draft regional water strategy and seek feedback on the strategy overall including the draft options.  The six-week public exhibition period will include multiple avenues to access information and provide feedback.
  3. Following the public exhibition phase we will undertake further targeted engagement with Aboriginal peak bodies, councils, local water utilities and joint organisations and Aboriginal communities in each region.  Our focus is to refine the options.
  4. Public release of the final regional water strategy will focus on informing the broader community of the published strategy.

We have been consulting on water sharing plans, water resource plans, metering reforms, environmental water management and drought. Through those processes, we have heard many ideas about how to be better prepared for future droughts and floods and a more variable climate. We are taking this feedback into consideration during the development of the regional water strategies.