It’s not always easy to have your say in a consultation process. Here are a few things you can do to get your key messages and main concerns on the table from the beginning.
You Matter – You are an expert
You live here and know the place in a way consultants coming in from outside do not. They bring some expertise but they do not know the place like you do. You know what works and what does not. You know what would make your life and those around you better. You have things you can say and they are important to share in case they get missed.
It’s not just about you – Talk to your Friends and Neighbours
Older people might no longer think about places for children and young families might not think about older people. Remember the discussion is about what makes it better for the whole community and not just about your issues. Talk and listen to others and think about what the common concerns are that need to be addressed and then, when you get the chance, talk about them as well as your issues.
Know what it is happening
Read what gets sent around and if you do not understand it ask someone to explain it to you. Don’t just rely on the official newsletters. Look out for information from non-government agencies and community groups and follow them on social media, go to meetings and ask questions. If you know what is happening then you and your friends can turn up and have your say.
Do some research
Some issues that come up will not be ones that you have thought about, so ask questions and do a bit of research. Community capacity building workshops, articles like those in this publication and online resources can help you think about what you want to say before consultants start asking questions officially. If you can’t find the information you are looking for then ask.
Participate – provide feedback even if you oppose redevelopment
Consultants want your input so attend meetings and workshops and have your say – you don’t have to say what they want to hear. Others might not raise your concerns if you do not turn up. Make sure what you have to say is heard and written down and does not get lost in the conversation. Not every suggestion will end up being accepted but make sure your idea is not lost at the beginning. Sessions have feedback forms, so use them to make comments or send an email or drop a note into the Waterloo Connect office to be passed on.
Follow up and defend your views
It is one thing to have a say, it is another for what you have said to be recorded and taken up by the consultants. So follow up and ask questions like “I raised this but I do not see where it is recorded or what you have done about it” or “I don’t see how what you are suggesting addresses the issue I raised” or “how will you make sure this issue is not lost”.
You are not expected to know everything, so if you do not follow what is happening ask questions. If you do not understand it is likely others do not either. Your questions might not be the same as others so make sure everyone has a chance to raise their questions too.
You may have to fight
Sometimes you might not be happy with what has been decided – for example if you oppose the redevelopment or you are unhappy with what the master plan decides. You have options to write to politicians, talk to the media and campaign. But don’t forget to raise your issues with the bureaucrats and consultants as well because if the proposal goes ahead you might succeed in making it better than it might have been without your input.
This issue of Inner Sydney Voice Magazine contains articles on some of the key issues about the redevelopment. There are many other relevant articles at www.innersydneyvoice.org.au/resources-inner-sydney-voice-magazine. You can also contact Thomas on 9698 9569 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him to suggest some good resources on your issue.