Inconsistent service experience
Although many participants said their interactions with Council were good or satisfactory, there were others who reported bad or inconsistent experiences. These were variously attributed to conflicting information or advice, repetition, being passed around, response times or attitude of staff.
Many participants stated that their interactions with specific Council departments were bureaucratic or confusing. Because processes, timeframes and responsibilities are not always clear, many customers make additional calls or visits to Council to seek help or clarification.
Many customers stated that they feel an unequal dynamic when dealing with Council. They feel ill-equipped to resolve disputes with Council as the information they require to present their argument is not accessible, or they feel they need to be experts in order to successfully represent themselves.
Role of Council
Overall, participants had mixed understandings and views on the role of Council: what it can and can’t do, how it is structured and organised, and its responsibilities. Not knowing which agency or level of government to go to, or having misplaced expectations of Council results in mistrust and frustration.
Consultation and follow up
Some participants expressed a sense of inadequate consultation, proactive engagement, and failure to follow-up on matters relevant to individuals or the community. Participants often accepted Council outcomes and decisions, but felt they had not been informed of these, and that they had to chase matters themselves.
Convenience and reliability
Participants were surprisingly varied in their channel and interaction preferences, but key themes were convenience and trusted contacts as a reliable source of information over Council sources. Some customers opt for the medium of contact that has provided the best outcome for them in the past, rather than the one they prefer.
Sustainability and support
Preservation and sustainability of the local environment, character, green spaces, streetscapes and heritage is important to people in Boroondara. Participants felt strongly that Council needed to do more to protect and maintain these aspects of the area, and better support sustainable waste practices by both Council and the community.
In spite of it being their local government, many participants feel disconnected from Council or discouraged from participating. Many spoke in adversarial terms about their interactions and none expressed any particular pride or affinity for Council, even where they believe it does well. Council is not a big part of people’s lives, nor do they feel significant to Council.