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Community Leaders

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Brief description of technique
Community leaders are identified as belonging to a group or community which can often be underrepresented in generic consultation activities because of language barriers or other deterrents. community leaders can have an ongoing role in representing their constituencies and are typically trained or provided with some incentives for their involvement.
To what kinds of consultation situations is this approach best suited?

This type of consultation approach is particularly suited to communities where there is a range of different diverse backgrounds and consultations in languages other than English would benefit the community.

There may be other groups often under-represented in consultations, including young people, older people and people with disabilities, where this would be a desirable approach.

This approach can also be suitable for consulting with Indigenous and Aboriginal communities.

How are target populations identified and approached?

Existing community groups or associations may be approached to represent someone to participate in Community leadership programs. State-based organisations representing particular language or ethnic groups could also provide contact points.

There will not always be organised groups to call on. This process would be assisted by a stakeholder-mapping exercise and the ongoing engagement and support of key groups within the community in council activities.

Specific targeting of community groups could be undertaken by contacting existing venues or activities where these groups generally congregate.

An advertised process of calling for people to nominate as community leaders is another option. Such nominations would require documentation or references showing broader support within their designated community or group.

Brief outline of how the process usually works

A typical consultation using community leaders can include the following components:

  • Group leaders within the community are identified.
  • Information about the policy issues to be discussed are distributed to the group leaders, possibly via an informal or formal 'training' program.
  • Group leaders facilitate informal conversations within their group on the relevant topic.
  • Group leaders provide feedback on the group discussion to council.
  • Formal sessions are held with each group to discuss the main issues raised in previous discussions.
What level of reporting back to participants occurs?
Results are then distributed to groups for feedback, suggestions and recommendations and group issues are followed up as necessary in appropriate language formats.
How this approach is usually evaluated?
Post-consultation interviews or evaluation forms can help to determine what community leaders thought of the experience, training, council support and impact of consultation on the relevant community group.
  • Engages individuals and groups in conversations regarding issues that had never been available previously.
  • Enables participants to be heard in a preferred language, increasing the potential for meaningful input.
  • The council has the opportunity to engage with large groups from diverse backgrounds and gather more information about core community issues that are important to each group.
  • Increases the level of understanding about the role of local governments in a variety of different communities.
  • Can create a base of individuals who can be engaged for a variety of consultation activities.
  • May increase the capacity and skills of selected community leaders for further individual and community benefit.
  • This is not a formal research method, so data received is qualitative, rather than quantitative, so more difficult to analyse.
Resources Required
  • Selected Community leaders may be paid for their services or have their costs reimbursed.
  • Training for leaders may be conducted externally and will attract fees.
  • There is a range of potential costs for a formal advertising process from advertisement placement through to administration.
  • Costs for the actual consultation between the community leader and their constituents will include venue hire, catering and other presentation expenses.


Council or other authority
City of Greater Geelong
Name of Project
Peer Driven Consultation in Diverse Communities
Date of consultation
November - December 2000
Aim of consultation
  • To update the Municipal Public Health Plan.
  • To involve people who are traditionally excluded from consultation and conversations about public health.
  • To compare the community input from the first Municipal Public Health Plan with the issues raised by an alternative consultation approach with diverse communities.
Consultation methods used

Used existing community groups to collect information on public health issues in community languages

Description of consultation
  1. We identified six group leaders in culturally diverse social groups.
  2. We provided information about public/social health to the group leaders during an informal training program.
  3. Group leaders held informal conversations within their groups.
  4. Group leaders fed this information to us.
  5. We ran sessions with each group (at times and places that suited them) to discuss three questions:
    • What is public health?
    • What is social health?
    • What do you think we should include in a public health plan?
  6. We pulled together the results and compared the outcome with the consultation outcomes from the first version of the Municipal Health Plan (which was a traditional random survey). Both processes revealed that people were concerned about the big issues, such as access to services and information, water and air.
Success of the consultation

Participants appreciated:

  • Finding out about the concepts of public and social health. No-one had ever explained them before.
  • Being involved in conversations on public health that had never been conducted in the past.
  • Being able to participate in a preferred language.
  • That we came to their meeting time and venue, which made participation easier.]


  • Engaged with over 340 people from 23 community language groups in a major strategic planning process for the first time.
  • 'Saved' money by connecting with existing structures,- placing less reliance on interpreters.
  • Learned about the core issues of access, water and air that concern to all people.
  • Learned that this approach could be used for other strategic planning consultation processes.
  • Learned that our communication processes can overlook groups in the community, even on relatively straight forward processes such as changes to waste and recycling collection
  • Learned that some groups in the community have a different view of the role of local government based on experience in other countries, where local government may deliver different services and perform different roles.
Other comments

The Municipal and Public Health Plan Reference Group has been able to follow up a number of ideas raised as practical solutions during the consultation:

  • The International Women's Group applied for a council community grant (having never heard of these grants before) to undertake an information project.
  • The Macedonian Men's Group was supported to deal with a problem arising from some group participants with mental healthand behavioural difficulties disrupting the group because it did not meet their needs.
  • The Migrant Resource Centre has developed a program to bring together the community, councillors and council staff to provide clear information on council's role and services.
Contact person
Name: Paul Jamieson Position: Manager, Community Development
Phone number: 5227 0727 Email: pjamieson@geelongcity.vic.gov.au

To view more case studies, click here.


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