JWS Research (JWS) an independent researcher engaged by the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has released the results of an annual state-wide community satisfaction survey of 66 Victorian councils and an individualised report directly to Northern Grampians Shire Council.
JWS conducted the telephone survey in March this year polling four hundred shire residents on satisfaction levels across a core set of questions. 192 men and 208 women comprising approximately four per cent of the shire population participated in the survey.
The survey provides insights into the community’s views on:
- Council’s overall performance
- Value for money in services and infrastructure
- Community consultation and engagement
- Decisions made in the interest of the community (‘Community decisions’)
- Customer service, local infrastructure, facilities, services (‘Waste management’ and ‘Sealed local roads’)
- Overall council direction
Individual responses were aggregated and compiled into a score for each of the above areas and compared against two types of groups comprising all State-wide councils and similarly sized Small Rural Councils.
The survey showed community satisfaction is on the rise in all areas, except for Council Direction, which remains static with a score of 49. Council’s highest scoring areas were in overall performance, with a score of 55, and customer service, with a score of 70.
The survey also highlighted that despite being Council’s lowest scored area in 2021, performance in consultation and engagement increased by two points to 52. However, perceptions of Council’s overall direction are generally mixed across cohort and location but trending lower, at 49, than the small rural and State-wide comparator group averages, with each at a score of 53.
Waste management, a new component of the survey this year, scored 61 and performance in community decisions scored 55, which is now in line with both the small rural group and State-wide comparator group averages.
CEO, Ms Liana Thompson, places a high value on the survey findings.
“This survey has been conducted in one form or another since we amalgamated and therefore provides us with a longitudinal study of Council’s performance,” Ms Thompson said.
“Not only can we use the current data to inform the direction of our Council and make adjustments to our planning and delivery of services, but we can also reflect on previous years’ data to examine whether our community’s perception of us and what we provide to them is improving.
“Evidently, there is a body of work to be done to improve satisfaction levels for residents in St Arnaud and also residents in the 35 to 49 year old age bracket. We will be responding to the community’s feedback and focusing on continued improvement in consultation and engagement and overall Council direction.
“It’s important to note that the results benchmark us against other councils in Victoria. This is a significant motivator, but I do believe it is also necessary to benchmark ourselves against organisations in other sectors as this is where we might uncover both strategic advantages for our organisation and new ways to improve service levels for our customers.”
Mayor, Cr Murray Emerson commended the respondents for their insightful contributions.
“We thank the community members who participated in this survey as it is time consuming and sometimes inconvenient to provide this level of information by telephone,” he said.
“Myself, my fellow councillors and council staff are responding to the data and will be addressing areas of concern. Please always feel welcome to provide feedback to us whether it is instigated by us, in the instance of this survey or on an ad hoc basis; we are here to serve you.”
The survey report is available to download from www.ngshire.vic.gov.au/CSS2021 or a print out may be requested from Council’s customer service centres by calling 03 5358 8700.