Moreland City Council, like most Victorian municipalities,
faces major funding challenges in relation to built
and community infrastructure. Council needs community
ideas about borrowing or setting up a fund. The council's
financial strategy posed some difficulties because it
was a high-level consultation without any immediate
impact on the community. This type of consultation poses
considerable challenges for council because most of
the interest or possible participation is generated
around immediate issues such as planning and traffic
The first phase of the consultation involved a general
meeting of community leaders across the municipality.
The response was extremely poor and only a few people
attended. The strategy was then redesigned to involve
the community through focus groups.
The consultation highlighted the value of using paid
focus groups when dealing with remote and high-level
issues. Participants became more willing to attend meetings
when they were paid $40 for their attendance. Many made
a point of saying they were going to donate the money.
The focus groups explored the attitudes of several
different groups including:
- Young people
- Non-English speaking communities
- Environmental and sporting groups.
This was followed by surveys of about 100 residents
to test the veracity of the qualitative information,
which was broken down by age and demographic area.
Participation was low, but the use of paid focus
groups did get around the perennial problem of finding
people to discuss these issues. The number of people
surveyed following the focus groups also balanced
the low participation level. The survey produced quantitative
backing for the qualitative research done in the focus
The end result was a clear profile of community attitudes
to borrowing or establishing funds for infrastructure
development. Informed policy development could then