City of Port Phillip pop-up conversations

The City of Port Phillip Council has hosted the third in a series of Pop-up Conversations, exploring a day in the life of Council Officers as they undertake a range of services for the community.

As part of this initiative, a small team of Council Officers chatted to locals at South Melbourne Market, asking for feedback on Council projects and listening to thoughts and opinions on a variety of issues.

Several projects were up for discussion, including the draft Positive Ageing Policy, a proposed Local Laws review, a new Art and Culture Heritage Strategy and a collection point for food organics and garden organics (FOGO) kitchen caddies as part of the new FOGO recycling service rollout.

By joining the conversation, residents can play their part in shaping the future of their neighbourhood and city by providing valuable feedback to inform Council decisions.

Port Phillip Council Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Monique Cosgrove, said, “We understand that our community members are true experts with their lived experience.

“The idea of the Pop-up Conversations is to meet people where they are at, and to engage people who may not necessarily seek out information on Council’s projects. We want to hear as many voices as we can.

“While we have subject matter experts internally at Council, we also need to understand what it’s like to live in a certain area and to use the different services and facilities available. That’s why we seek ideas and feedback from residents to help inform our projects.”

Council Officers who are specialists in each project field attend the conversations, as well as several Councillors ready to speak to residents to get a feel for community sentiment on each of the topics.

The Council displays projects on interactive A-frame boards, featuring coloured sticky notes from residents who have jotted down their thoughts and stuck them to the boards.

“We try and make each Pop-up Conversation as visually appealing and interactive as possible,” Cr Cosgrove said.

“It might be something like voting on a topic by placing balls in different tubes representing a choice on a project, voting by using sticky dots or writing down ideas on post-it notes or postcards.”

Many residents participate in the Pop-up Conversations and provide feedback to the Council. 

Karen from Albert Park said she didn’t expect to be able to pick up a FOGO caddy on her routine trip to the South Melbourne Market and took the opportunity to give her feedback to Council on the new waste service.

“Finally, I don’t have to put my food waste in landfill, so I’m very excited,” Karen said.

“I have a worm farm and a compost bin at home. But even then, the compost bin needs to rest, and I can fill it pretty quickly. I would still end up putting things in the waste and it’s frustrating. Having a FOGO bin is great and it’s a positive action.”

A recent Pop-up Conversation in Elwood as part of the Neighbourhood Conversation Program saw a record 78 caddies claimed, as residents play their part in diverting food and garden waste from landfill as part of the FOGO program.

Karen said she’s glad to take this opportunity to chat with Councillors and have a say on matters in her neighbourhood without having to attend a Council Meeting.

“It’s very convenient. Port Phillip is a decent sized Council, so going down to St Kilda and the offices there is not always convenient, so this is great,” Karen said.

The Pop-up Conversations also provide an opportunity for residents to raise issues and discussions about anything happening in Port Phillip.

“It’s important to have a presence in the community so that residents can come and talk to us about issues on their radar that we might not know about,” Cr Cosgrove said.

Cr Cosgrove said she hopes the pop-ups can help change perceptions held by some about how Council interacts with its community.

“My team is really passionate about working with residents and finding solutions that are beneficial to the community.

“I think there’s sometimes a feeling among some residents that Council isn’t always easily accessible, but we’re really making a concerted effort to get out and about and make sure people can get in touch with us,” Cr Cosgrove said.

Following the Pop-up Conversation at South Melbourne Market, the Engagement Team will collate and analyse the feedback and data for an engagement report, complete with demographics, outlining who they spoke to and what was raised.

The report will then be shared with the public on the Council’s Have Your Say website and inform the Officers’ recommendations for Councillors to consider before making decisions in the Chamber.

Other forms of community engagement that might be used on projects include workshops (both online and face to face), focus groups, community panel deliberations as well as interviews and surveys on the Have Your Say website.

The Engagement Team also works closely with Council’s advisory committees, seeking advice from those who are representatives of various sectors of the community.

This Pop-up Conversation was one in a series of Neighbourhood Conversations that are held at eight different neighbourhoods across Port Phillip three to four times a year.

Feature image: City of Port Phillip pop-up conversation. Provided by City of Port Phillip.

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