By Grace Frost
The City of Whittlesea’s performance has slumped since last year, according to the first look at results from this year’s Victorian Community Satisfaction Survey, CSS.
The CSS is an annual, statewide survey conducted by JWS Research on behalf of the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action, DEECA.
A survey report is provided to councils across the state to provide insights into residents’ perceptions of a range of council service areas, with results collected as index scores out of 100.
This year, 1200 City of Whittlesea residents were surveyed.
The City of Whittlesea outperformed the state-wide average in half of the service areas assessed, including in sealed local roads, value for money and emergency and disaster management.
Council scored a 55 for overall performance, on par with the state-wide average of 56.
Council had the highest score for waste management, scoring a 70 – only one of two service areas to improve since last year.
Residents rated council poorest in overall council direction, 46; and value for money, 51; in line with councils across the state at 46 and 49, respectively.
The City of Whittlesea performed the poorest in comparison to other Victorian councils in the appearance of public places, scoring 52, 15 less than the state-wide average of 67.
Appearance of public places also recorded the steepest decline in score since last year, falling by eight from 60 in 2022 to 52 in 2023.
The decline in scores this year reflects a state-wide trend, with most councils receiving harsher criticism from residents compared to last year.
Residents rated their council’s performance significantly better than those in neighbouring Mitchell Shire Council.
The City of Whittlesea outscored Mitchell Shire Council in sealed local roads by 20 points; local streets and footpaths by 14; value for money by 13; and overall performance by nine.
City of Whittlesea chair administrator Lydia Wilson said council had committed to a program of improvements to enhance its customer experience.
“While there is still room for us to improve, I think these results indicate a broader sentiment in the community at the moment where the cost of living and other pressures are impacting satisfaction levels,” she said.
“The City of Whittlesea is committed to improving our interactions with our community and we have seen some improvements based on our own research.”
Ms Wilson said the results of a council-conducted post-interaction survey showed an increase in customer service satisfaction from 48 per cent in November, 2022, to 83 per cent in June, 2023.
“We are rolling out a program of digitising our services and in August we opened the Whittlesea Service Hub to make it easier for residents in the north of our municipality to interact with council,” she said.
“We will continue to work to ensure we are delivering excellent services to the people who live and work in the City of Whittlesea.”
The Review first requested access to the City of Whittlesea’s 2023 satisfaction report in July.
The City of Whittlesea provided a summary of its results in September.
The Review has not seen the original data detailed by JWS research, but instead, two tables of data produced by the City of Whittlesea based on its Community Satisfaction Survey report – usually forming about three pages of the entire report.
The City of Whittlesea did not provide its residents or the Review with the full report undertaken by JWS Research as of Monday morning.
However, like other local governments, neighbouring Mitchell Shire Council has published all of its community satisfaction surveys dating back to 2016 on its website, including last year’s 150-page report.
Full reports can include recommendations for local governments to implement to see community perception improve, the service areas rated most important to residents, which demographics were most critical of council’s services and graphs detailing the change in ratings across multiple years.
To see the summary generated by council, visit https://bit.ly/3rwwDMF.