What is Integrated Planning and Reporting?

    Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) is the planning and reporting framework that Bellingen Shire Council uses to work towards achieving the community’s vision.

    Under NSW State legislation, Councils must prepare a number of plans which provide details on how Council intends to deliver works and services in the short and long term. This is based on the community’s priorities which have been identified through consultation and engagement as well as the resources available to council in delivering these items.

    The framework ensures Councils illustrate their various plans together, to understand how they interact in planning for the future. The framework opens the way for Council and our community to have important discussions about funding priorities, service levels and shaping local identity and to plan in partnership for a more sustainable future.

    What is the Community Vision?

    The Community Vision is Council's name for the element of the Integrated Planning and Reporting framework called the Community Strategic Plan.The Community Strategic Plan sits above all other council plans and policies in the planning heirarchy. The purpose of the Plan is to identify the community’s main priorities and aspirations for the future, and plan strategies to achieve them. These strategies will take into consideration the issues and pressures that may affect the community and the level of resources that will realistically be available. While a council has a custodial role in initiating, preparing and maintaining the Community Strategic Plan on behalf of the local government area, it is not wholly responsible for its implementation. Other partners, such as state agencies and community groups may also be engaged in delivering the long term objectives of the Plan.

    What key questions should the Community Strategic Plan address?

    The Community Strategic Plan essentially addresses four key questions for the community: 

    • Where are we now? 

    • Where do we want to be in 10 years’ time? 

    • How will we get there? 

    • How will we know we’ve arrived?

    The council’s role is to guide the community through these important discussions and to document the response in a meaningful plan. However, it should be clearly understood that it is not the council’s responsibility to deliver every aspect of the Community Strategic Plan.

    What timeframe should the Community Strategic Plan cover?

    The minimum timeframe for a Community Strategic Plan is 10 years. This is based on accepted principles of strategic planning and reflects the requirements of the National Framework for Local Government Financial Sustainability which were signed off by all states and territories in 2007/08.

    t can be challenging to envisage the future more than a few years ahead, so it is important to concentrate on general themes and objectives rather than specifics when preparing the Community Strategic Plan. For example, a Plan might say “we want to increase educational opportunities in our area” rather than “we want a new TAFE college or uni campus in a our town”.

    This allows the community to consider a wide range of options for a wider range of people and encourages a more innovative approach.

    The actual details of projects and programs to support the community’s strategic objectives will be spelled out in the council’s Delivery Program and Operational Plans, or included in any partnerships established with other providers, such as state agencies. 

    The purpose of the Community Strategic Plan is to provide a road map of what is important to the community and where it wants to go.

    What are social justice principles and how do they relate to the Community Strategic Plan?

    The Community Strategic Plan must be based on the social justice principles of equity, access, participation, and rights.

    The NSW Government’s social justice strategy is based on the following interrelated principles:

    Equity – there should be fairness in decision making, and prioritising and allocation of resources, particularly for those in need. Everyone should have a fair opportunity to participate in the future of the community. The planning process should take particular care to involve and protect the interests of people in vulnerable circumstances

    • Access – all people should have fair access to services, resources and opportunities to improve their quality of life

    • Participation – everyone should have the maximum opportunity to genuinely participate in decisions which affect their lives

    • Rights – equal rights should be established and promoted, with opportunities provided for people from diverse linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds to participate in community life.

    Councils must ensure that their Community Strategic Plan reflects these four social justice principles and that social considerations are adequately addressed in the planning process.

    What is the quadruple bottom line and how does it relate to the Community Strategic Plan?

    The Community Strategic Plan must address social, environmental, economic and civic leadership issues in an integrated manner.

    Each Community Strategic Plan must adequately address social, environmental, economic and civic leadership considerations. This approach is generally referred to as ‘the quadruple bottom line’. In some models the fourth element is described as ‘governance’. In the new planning framework, the term ‘civic leadership’ has been chosen to indicate that it relates not only to the way the council will interact with the Community Strategic Plan, but the way members of the community might become involved in delivering some of the Plan’s objectives. 
    The quadruple bottom line approach was chosen by the NSW government to ensure that the Community Strategic Plan would be balanced and take a holistic view, rather than favouring one particular aspect. Councils can arrange their Community Strategic Plan in any way they like, as long as they can demonstrate that social, environmental, economic and civic leadership issues have been considered and are adequately addressed.

    Where can I learn more about the Community Strategic Plan and Integrated Planning and Reporting?

    The NSW Office of Local Government has a webpage on Integrated Planning and Reporting.  They have also issued Guidelines and a Manual on Integrated Planning and Reporting.

    How can I participate?

    Come along to one of our Community forums to discuss the future Community Strategic Plan.  Forums will be held in Dorrigo, Bellingen and Urunga.