Over half of Australians consider themselves engaged with their local council, but only 35% feel heard and only 37% feel feedback shared with their local council is valued.

The results come from a survey of 2000 Australian homeowners*, commissioned by Datacom to better understand levels of engagement with local councils and identify opportunities to improve connections between councils and their communities.

One of the simplest fixes to bridging the gaps in council engagement is greater use of digital channels: 57% of respondents said they would be more inclined to engage on council issues if they could do so digitally and 67% said they would use a council app if it was available.

Photograph of a woman wearing awhite and blue striped shirt over a white t-shirt looking off to the side smiling and holding a mobile phone
Digital channels such as apps offer an opportunity to improve connections between councils and their communities.

The survey identified some strong areas of council engagement including positive feedback about crisis comms. Councils are largely seen to be getting it right when it comes to the information they provide, with 73% of Australians finding communications from their local council useful, and 60% feeling their council communicates well during times of crisis – including extreme weather events, flooding and bush fires.

Day-to-day comms was an area for improvement with strong demand for more relevant, timely information on local road closures, construction works, and community events.

“Overall, the survey results show positive levels of engagement between local councils and the Australian communities they are serving. The notable gap is the ability for people to share and receive information from their council in a more immediate way, and for this to be a two-way channel that enables feedback,” says Peter Nelson, Datacom Director of Local Government and MD SaaS Products.

“Small changes can make a big difference in whether people feel they are being listened to. Working with our council partners, we’ve seen the positive impact that digital tools like Datascape are having in terms of enabling staff and customers to interact and access information digitally in more practical, ways.

“Mobile apps like Antenno are also providing a solution for the public to report issues on-the-go (such as blocked drains or fallen trees), and proactively share helpful reminders like remembering to put out the rubbish on the right day.”

Datacom works with 117 councils across Australia providing technology solutions and services, including its cloud-based solution Datascape which is designed to help councils to engage and work more collaboratively with their communities.

*Datacom commissioned the survey by Antenna, an independent consumer research agency, that conducted an online AntennaPoll survey of n=2000 Australian ratepayers, split evenly (n=400 in each of the five mainland Australian states). The survey was conducted in June 2023. The survey data collection was national, and respondents were sourced using an accredited online research access panel. Data was weighted for representation against the 2021 Australian census.

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