The State Planning Commission has released the draft Community Engagement Charter for public consultation.

An integral part of SA’s new planning system is community consultation and participation which adds value to the planning process and delivers better planning outcomes. This will be achieved through the creation of a Community Engagement Charter (the Charter). The Charter contains mandatory requirements, principles, performance outcomes and ways of measuring performance.

The Charter will apply to the State Planning Commission (SPC), the Chief Executive of the Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure, Infrastructure Scheme Coordinators and government agencies, Councils and Joint Planning Boards in the preparation or amendment of the following planning instruments and schemes:

If the Charter applies an entity must follow the mandatory requirements for each consultation category. These are:

The SPC prepared a discussion paper in August 2017 which identified eight principles of engagement. Those eight principles have now been distilled to five. They are:

  • Genuine engagement;
  • Inclusive and respectful engagement;
  • Fit for purpose engagement;
  • Informed and transparent engagement; and
  • Reviewed and improved engagement.

Disappointingly, original principal 8, “people recognise that decision-making often involves some interests being supported and others not” has been removed.

The Charter will not have a statutory role in the assessment of development applications. The Planning Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 deals separately with public notification for certain classes of development applications.

Engagement plans required under the Charter will go to the Minister for Planning for approval. The Minister will act on advice from the SPC in assessing an engagement plan. If the Minister has concerns that the requirements under the Charter have not been met, they can consult with the SPC and ask it to consider whether the Charter has been satisfied.

The SPC has also released a draft guide to the Charter which sets out 5 steps which should be considered when developing and implementing an engagement plan. The guide is intended to reinforce and build on the engagement processes already employed by many organisations. The guide is not intended to be prescriptive but rather a “food for thought” document to assist in tailoring the engagement process.

Consultation on the Charter is open for 6 weeks, closing on Friday, 8 December 2017.