Council coy on survey results

May 30, 2018

Greater Shepparton City Council has said it would not be releasing its quarterly community satisfaction survey results progressively, quarter by quarter, until the entire 12-month period of surveying was undertaken.

When the council transitioned to a different system of gauging community satisfaction last year, it said at the time the results would not be released until the full year was done and a report was compiled.

From a council that has in recent times made commitments to putting reports in the public sphere wherever possible in moves to be more transparent, not releasing the results of these surveys is interesting.

While it has no obligation to do so, and says the survey is primarily to assist with its own service delivery and facility provision, the question remains what harm it would do for the results of these surveys to be made public.

Historically, community satisfaction surveys can illustrate very little, and they rarely drill down into the nitty gritty of concerns.

They can often be a less than flattering set of numbers.

Not always fairly either. Some of those surveyed inevitably won’t use services they’re asked to give advice on. And the surveys rarely paint the entire story of roads, infrastructure management or customer service.

The council’s shift last year from a system where the entire survey took place at a point in time was for good reason.

With quarterly surveys of residents, albeit much smaller sample sizes, they would get a more rounded picture of performance and track progress.

Additionally, the new surveys allow for comment to be gathered on a range of topics sought by the council.

The results of these surveys will no doubt be taken on board by the council and priorities managed on the back of them.

Which begs the question of why, if decisions are being made based on feedback received, the feedback itself can’t be illuminated?

If the council argues it is important for it to have an understanding of how satisfied residents are with its performance, is it not also important for ratepayers to know?

The council has committed to making the results available, ‘‘potentially’’ in August.

It will be interesting to see these once released.

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