Loddon Shire Council Case Study

When Loddon grows up

We supported 3 local businesses, 4 local schools and 1 young local person was employed.

~ Conversation Caravan

The Project

Conversation Caravan was engaged by Loddon Shire Council to carry out research and engagement to prepare its youth strategy. The Youth Strategy 2019 – 25 will guide Council’s investment and services provided to best support young people and their families, particularly the planning, development and delivery of Youth programs and infrastructure throughout the municipality.

 Like many rural councils, Loddon Shire has a significantly lower population percentage of young people aged 12 to 24 years living within the municipality, when compared to metropolitan areas. Loddon Shire Council recognises the importance of young people to the future of the Shire and the importance of working to make the Shire a place where they feel they can lead a supported, healthy and fulfilling life, and return easily if they decide to leave.

Conversation Caravan delivered and facilitated a creative arts school activity, an interview with Anglicare, an online guided question kit, and five pop ups; two at local schools, two in the community at sporting matches and one with internal Council staff.

Challenges

  • Lack of online traction- the Instagram photo competition did not have the traction expected, this may have been due to the Council not having strong social media connection within the Shire, or possibly the difficulties some young people face with WiFi and internet connection as discovered during the consultation.
  • Sport a large priority – The community pop ups were held at sporting events and therefore some young people not involved in sport may not have had the opportunity to participate in the engagement activities.
  • Participation at the Bridgewater pop up was impacted due to the Newbridge team being supplemented with players from Bendigo who reside outside of Loddon.

 Keys to success

  • Employing a young local person from the Loddon Shire.
  • Providing a safe and private space – for activities where responses are potentially confidential, young people were invited into the caravan to encourage open answers.
  • Incentives – free breakfast and lunch, canteen vouchers, fresh fruit and a friendly rivalry between sporting clubs with a $300 prize for the club with most participation.
  • Using place-based engagement – going to schools and their sporting games where the young people are.
  • The bright and colourful caravan and project resources – appealing to the younger crowd!
  • Working closely with the hosts – communicating the events and supporting promotion of the pop ups with flyers, text for team apps and Facebook pages.

Early Outcomes

The following outcomes have been identified from conversations with Loddon Shire Council staff based on what they will start doing after hearing the feedback from the young people of Loddon.

  • Building a case for free Wi-Fi: start working in collaboration to build the case for free Wi-Fi in the Shire.
  • Engaging young people: ensuring young people are identified as a cohort to engage when planning.
  • Working with young people: initiating programs young people will lead and helping to create youth focused events.
  • Providing space for young people: expanding the hours of the local community houses where young people can ‘hang out’ and access free Wi-Fi.
  • Work experience and skill-based training: the creation of work experience placements for young people within the Council, and the sourcing of funding to support local businesses to train young people and build young people’s skill set for their future.

 

Reflections and key learnings

  • Limiting the community pop up to one and doing further school pop ups to engage young people at school as opposed to at their interests, which may not be shared would be a consideration for future projects.
  • The implementation of a friendly rivalry based competition for sports events increased participation, as used in our second community pop up.
  • Parent and guardian opportunities for feedback – this was recognised after the initial pop ups and was implemented for the final two pop ups at Wedderburn and the internal Council pop up.

More Information

More information on the project can be found here: https://www.caseyconversations.com.au/yourcity19_20

Making a difference

Here at Conversation Caravan we like to make a difference. We measure how many businesses we support in the local economy, the number of voices heard and the number of staff we believe we supported and fostered a community engagement approach.

  • 3 local businesses supported (printing, suppliers and accommodation)
  • 4 Local schools and sporting clubs supported (purchase of incentives, donation) ·
  • 1 young person employed to work on this project from the area
  • 457 voices heard (294 young people 12 – 25)
    Improved the understanding of community engagement for two staff