How to Access Council Services
Despite the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions, the City of Boroondara continues to offer limited in-person services.
The customer service desk at Hawthorn Arts Centre and at the Kew Library remain closed to “limit the risk of contagion, and to operate in a COVIDsafe manner”.
Last year, internal structural changes within the City of Boroondara included the integration of customer service staff from several service areas into a central team which is the first point of contact for customers.
These changes are part of the ‘Boroondara Customer First Program’ (the Program), designed to provide more seamless and responsive customer service when contacting council via phone, email, or in-person. Introduced in 2019, the five-year Program is projected to cost $129 million over 15 years to transform the council into a “customer-centric organisation”, predominantly through improving information and communications technology.
Council explained that recent upgrades to their online resources has made council customer services such as permit applications, payments, submissions, bookings, and finding information easier and more accessible.
‘The ‘Snap Send Solve’ app for smartphones is an example of a digital resource where residents can take photos of local issues and send them directly to the council for immediate attention.
While improving online resources and services are a key focus for council, there are still opportunities for civic engagement for members of the local community who cannot access or use the internet, or choose not to. Council does offer digital literacy classes to assist residents in accessing council online services and other online materials, however these classes are only available online, requiring some knowledge and/or access to technology.
Offline council communication options include telephone (9278 4444), post (Private Bag 1, Camberwell 3124), and the in-person Camberwell Civic Centre customer service area (8 Inglesby Road, Camberwell). Locals can also make submissions via post to speak at council meetings about proposals and council payments can be made at Australia Post (782 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn).
City of Boroondara commits to “answering phone calls within an average of 45 seconds, returning phone calls within one working day, and responding to all enquiries by mail, email, online, or fax within 10 working days of receipt”.
In April 2021, council conducted a ‘Communications Channels Evaluation’ survey advertised online and in the Boroondara Bulletin. The evaluation sought feedback from residents about council communications, how they prefer to receive information, and which channels they would use to locate council news, information, and services. However, the council only advertised the option to provide feedback through an online survey. This appeared to exclude the portion of the community who do not utilise online services. Upon enquiry, the council explained that although not advertised, print copies of the ‘Communications Channels Evaluation’ survey were available at council libraries and upon individual request.
Offline resources tend to be available, however require residents to be proactive, search for relevant news, and then specifically request offline options.
Maintaining the availability of online and offline communications and resources for the community means that all residents remain included and able to engage in council activities and local life.