Mixed bag from community satisfaction survey

Good and bad: Campaspe Shire Council’s pool facilities attracted both positive and negative responses from a survey completed by the University of South Australia. Photo by Steve Huntley

An online questionnaire commissioned by the Campaspe Shire Council, and conducted by the University of South Australia, delivered 163 usable surveys from which the council could better understand the best methods of interacting and communicating with its community.

There were a total of 261 residents surveyed, all over 18-years-old, structured around reviewing the interaction of the Campaspe community with the council, awareness of electoral ward and councillors, living in Campaspe Shire, council services and communications.

The survey also incorporated open-ended response questions for respondents to provide richer detail on their responses and specific suggestions.

Telephone interviews followed the initial online survey and involved 20 residents, addressing four topics: interaction with the council, council services, communications and roads.

The online survey was opened for a month between January 24 and February 20 this year, while the interviews were conducted between February 18 and March 8.

The 20 interviews averaged 20 minutes, the shortest being 10 minutes and the longest 38.

While the findings of the interviews were mostly consistent with the results of the surveys, the findings of interviews provided a more comprehensive understanding on the topics.

Females aged between 46 and 75 years old were the largest demographic in the study, representing more than 60 per cent.

Just 2.2 per cent identified as Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander origin.

Almost 80 per cent had lived in the Campaspe Shire for more than 10 years and all but six per cent were ratepayers.

Echuca had 57.4 per cent of the participants in the survey.

Council interaction

Almost 80 per cent of those involved in the phone interview process had experienced contact with the council in the past 12 months.

The phone was the most popular method of contact, with just 19.8 per cent using the council website.

Those who had lived in the shire for more than 10 years were more likely to contact their councillor than the council offices.

The top nine reasons for contacting council were: waste, roads, rates, pools, trees, permit approvals, pet registration, animals and general feedback for the council.

In good news for the local government authority 58.7 per cent of matters were resolved and 27.2 per cent were awaiting an outcome.

And in further positive feedback 84.7 per cent reported courteous staff responses to their inquiries.

One response, regarding written contact with the shire read: “I strongly object to residents/ratepayers being forced to make contact with the shire in writing (short of appearing in person). The wheels of our shire grind slowly enough as it is.”

Living in Campaspe

A concerning statistic was the fact that 11 per cent of respondents did not know their electoral ward and in some cases their answers did not match any of the seven electoral wards of Campaspe shire.

Almost 70 per cent of the respondents answered that they were aware of their electoral ward.

After Echuca’s 48 per cent the answers included 19.6 from the wards of Kyabram Deakin, which people confused as either Kyabram or Deakin. Six per cent identified their ward as either Campaspe and Nicholls.

The top five, of 10 listed, reasons people liked living in Campaspe were the community and its people, the environment, the lifestyle, recreation activities and sporting facilities, along with climate.

The top five, again of 10 listed, reasons people disliked living in Campaspe was roads, general council services, maintenance of council facilities, facilities (threat to close pools and lack of facilities compared to Shepparton) and imbalance across towns (being Echuca centric).

Know your councillors

Twenty six per cent of respondents knew Mayor Chrissy Weller and 13.6 per cent knew Councillor Paul Jarman. Next best was Cr Daniel Mackrell (11.8 per cent), while only 6.8 per cent knew Cr John Zobec (Kyabram Deakin ward).

Two people identified Mr (Damian) Drum as a Campaspe shire councillor.

How to improve Campaspe

Pools came in at number two on the list of subjects where life could be better in Campaspe — behind roads.

There were some of the suggestions (abbreviated for print) that came about the pool issue:

• Make pools solar heated, encouraging more to use them.

• Ensure that district swimming pools are retained and maintained.

• Increase the pool hours.

• Leave the local pools open and let our kids learn to swim. Not all council assets have to make a profit when it is for the good of the community.

• Echuca pool is often overcrowded and inaccessible to the older residents.

• Continue to operate town swimming pools as a community asset rather than treating them simply as a cost burden.

In regard to community facilities these were among the suggestions from the survey participants:

• Better tourism facilities.

• Additional childcare facilities.

• Shopping complex in the west to accommodate new developments in this area.

• Water park near library.

• Develop the riverbank area under the new bridge to provide an attractive area for visitors and residents.

• More sports grounds for junior sport.

• Splash park for children.

• Playgrounds in residential areas.

60-40 in council’s favour

Overall, 60 per cent f the respondents agreed council staff were doing a good job. Of these, only 22 respondents indicated that they had a relative or good friend that worked for the council.

Waste management, libraries, parks and gardens, health and pools — in particular the Echuca War Memorial Aquatic Centre — were the top items considered excellent by the respondents.

Areas of improvement were listed as roads, footpaths, the council’s consultation process, shire-wide facilities and services.


Of the 163 usable surveys 58 people said local papers was how the most common way they found out information about council activity.

Newsletters (48), Social media (38) and council’s website (13) were the other most popular means on obtaining details of what was happening in the shire.

More than 70 per cent said they would like to hear more about council services, news and announcements.