Yarra Valley Water


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Working with our community

We’re committed to effective and inclusive community engagement. We know that involving our community in our work leads to better outcomes.

Customer and community input is vital to help us shape the decisions we make. Our relationships enable us to tap into a range of views, helping us to understand what people consider to be our most important impacts and opportunities.

Working with our customers and community

Our ongoing community engagement and customer insights work gives us an in-depth understanding of the values and expectations of our customers.

We regularly check in with the customers and community we serve, seeking their engagement, insights, and input on the work we do. We seek input in our decision-making processes to understand to their views and gather feedback on our services and programs. We are designing solutions together.

Grandparents an granddaughter watering garden

Community input into our work takes several forms:

Community engagement

We always aim to be transparent about the decisions we make and how the community and our stakeholders can be involved in our decision making. Our commitment is to ensure we provide all the information people need to be able to understand the work being planned for the community and to effectively participate where possible in our decision-making processes in a meaningful way.

We follow the IAP2 framework (Institute of Public Participation Australasia) to inform, consult and involve our community in our work. We develop community engagement plans for all of our infrastructure projects and you can find out more about works in our service area at: yvw.com.au/works or for information about our Community Sewerage Program visit  yvw.com.au/csp.

Market research

We regularly conduct market research to canvas the views of our customers on the services we provide. This helps us to continually improve our services and the way we communicate with our customers. Every month we speak to customers who have interacted with us to make sure that we continue to deliver the best customer service that we can. 

Customers who call our contact centre, use online services and/or are affected by planned or emergency works are given the opportunity to provide feedback about that experience – this feedback is taken seriously by our dedicated teams and actioned to ensure continual improvement.

Even if customers don’t interact us directly, they are still provided the opportunity to let us know how we are going on a quarterly basis. A random selection of residential customers, business customers and members of the community are invited to complete our ‘Brand Tracker’ survey where they can provide feedback on a range of important measures like value for money, trust and quality of our water – keeping an eye on how the community believe we are doing on these measures allows us to deliver the best service that we can.

Community partnerships

We recognise the importance of building and maintaining relationships with diverse groups, and ensuring community perspectives and the expertise of people with lived experience inform our decision making.

We regularly participate in committees and networks, and attend community events to raise awareness of the services we offer.

These opportunities provide us with many benefits including knowledge sharing, capacity building, networking, and opportunities to collaborate on shared community priorities.

Community Advisory Group

This group, comprised of a diverse group of residential customers and representatives of community organisations, has been providing input on a wide range of customer issues since 1997. This group also provides invaluable perspectives and voices on issues of hardship, family violence and vulnerability. Our Managing Director attends all committee meetings.

Community panels

These panels, drawn from local or affected communities, are formed specifically to help us fully understand the impacts of complex initiatives such as policy development or new infrastructure.

‘Citizens’ Jury’ 

In 2022, we invited customers and community groups to help us formulate our 5-yearly price submission to our regulator, the Essential Services Commission.

To build a truly representative and evidence-based price submission, we focused on understanding what people across our diverse customer base value most.

We sought to engage with often unheard voices and ensure that the needs of future generations were always considered.

We co-designed an engagement approach with our Board, staff, stakeholders, regulators and external critical friends. This new approach allowed us to unpack what effective engagement would look like for all stakeholders, unearthing contextual and emerging issues, and identifying the voices that needed to be heard - all leading to the subsequent and final step of a representative 40-member Citizens' Jury.

An Aboriginal Community Working Group shared with the Jury their perspectives on caring for Country, building understanding of what it means to deliver water and sewerage services on Country. This had a powerful impact, resulting in the Citizens' Jury recommending that caring for Country is a key priority and is considered in all our decision making.

The Jury also identified 6 key customer commitment areas that guide our priorities over the next 5 years:

  1. Safe and pleasant drinking water
  2. Reliable water and sewerage services
  3. Timely service response and repair
  4. Service that meets everyone's needs
  5. Saving water for the future
  6. Looking after the natural environment

More information about our engagement approach

What do you mean by 'community'?
  • Anyone affected by our work.
  • Yarra Valley Water customers, including residents and commercial customers.
  • People who visit, or live or work in our service area.
  • Local councils, Councillors and officers.
  • Water industry peers, partners, consultants and staff.
What’s your approach to community engagement?

Our principles for community engagement

We follow the Institute of Public Participation Australasia (IAP2) framework to engage people.

Our approach to community engagement is guided by the following principles. We recognise:

  • The community’s right to engage in key decisions to be made by Yarra Valley Water that affect them and their environment.
  • That our decisions can be enhanced by the diverse perspectives, expertise and views of external stakeholders.
  • That effective community engagement depends on mutual trust, respect, and effective communication between us and the community.
  • That community engagement must be transparent, flexible and responsive to the needs of the community.
  • That the purpose of community engagement is not just to win support for, or defend, a decision already made by us.
  • Our responsibility to ensure that the community’s input is carefully considered and informs our decisions.
Why do you engage the community in your work?

Our community engagement aims to:

  • Be transparent about the nature of the decision that the community can be engaged in.
  • Inform members and groups in the community how they can inform our decision-making, and provide them with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
  • Build on previous relevant community engagement.
  • Carefully plan and structure community engagement processes to make it easy for people and groups to obtain information and provide input.
  • Facilitate the involvement of people and groups who may be affected by our work, including those who often face barriers to engagement.
  • Use engagement techniques that are flexible, inclusive and appropriate for those participating.
  • Gather, listen, and respond to community views, aspirations, and concerns.
  • Facilitate mutual understanding between groups and individuals with differing perspectives and interests.
  • Build positive relationships and make better-informed decisions.
  • Provide feedback on how the community’s engagement informed our decisions.
Who can I contact to provide feedback or raise a complaint?

We’re committed to making sure our products and services meet your expectations and we value your feedback about our performance. If you have a complaint, would like to compliment members of our team, or you have any suggestions on how we can improve, please tell us.

Visit yvw.com.au/feedback for more information and contact details.