Why community wellbeing indicators are important...
Community wellbeing indicators can help local government to govern better. They can improve Councils’ knowledge, responsiveness, effectiveness and accountability. They can provide the basis for engaging key partners in dialogue and action for improving community outcomes. They can strengthen local communities in direct and practical ways.
Community engagement and community strengthening
Community wellbeing indicators provide a concrete focus to engage local citizens and strengthen communities in discussions about what matters to them. The process of developing community wellbeing indicators and community plans is an excellent way to inform and involve local people and organisations, and a meaningful task for citizens. It enables them to identify key issues, discuss priorities, and plan future directions for their community.
Support for Council decision-making
Community wellbeing indicators help ensure that the decisions Councils make about policies and budgets are based on the best local evidence. This includes evidence on community priorities, as well as the key social, economic, environmental, cultural and governance trends in their community.
Integrated policy and planning
A community wellbeing indicator framework is an integrated map of key community priorities. It shows how different issues fit together and how progress in one key area of concern to local communities is related to another. This makes it a powerful tool to support an integrated or ‘triple bottom line’ approach to policy development, program implementation and evaluation.
A focus on results
Community wellbeing indicators will help Councils and their key partners to shift the focus from inputs (for example dollars spent on recreational facilities) and outputs (e.g. new parks and sporting facilities) to outcomes and practical results for their communities (e.g., improved participation in sporting and recreational activities, health benefits).
Better reporting and accountability
A good system of local community wellbeing indicators will give Councils the basis for better informed and more comprehensive reporting, and promotes increased accountability and transparency. This has both administrative and democratic benefits. Examples include: better council reports to local citizens; better policy; and good local data to attract state funded programs or meet state reporting requirements.
Community wellbeing indicators will add value to local government. Collected and maintained over time they will provide a real measure of the progress being made in strengthening local communities and building local resilience and capacity.