In January 2016, Nambucca Shire Council commissioned Jetty Research to conduct a representative and statistically valid telephone survey of 400+ adult residents living within the local government area (LGA). The survey aimed to assess satisfaction with, and priorities towards different Council-managed facilities and services using a random and statistically valid sample.
This survey follows similar polls conducted in 2007, 2010 and 2013. Hence it was also designed to see how results have varied from previous research waves, where appropriate.
The 2016 survey was also designed to provide community feedback on a range of other issues including: frontline service levels; awareness of and interest in online rates; information on road closures; perception of safety, and; attitude towards fit-for-the-future mergers.
Polling was conducted from March 7th to 14th 2016 as a random telephone survey of 407 adult residents living throughout the LGA. No formal quotas were applied, although we did attempt to ensure an adequate mix of respondents across age groups and sub-regions.
Based on the number of households within the Nambucca Shire, a random sample of 407 adult residents implies a margin for error of +/- 4.8% at the 95% confidence level. This essentially means that if we conducted a similar poll twenty times, results should reflect the views and behaviour of the overall survey population – in this case "all Nambucca Shire adult residents excluding council employees and councillors" - to within a +/- 4.8% margin in 19 of those 20 surveys.
For more information on survey methodology, sampling error and sample characteristics, see pages 9-10. For more detailed information on the demographic breakdown of survey respondents, see pages 11-13.
Among the survey’s major conclusions:
- Of 26 council services and facilities measured, 20 had a mean satisfaction score of three or above (using a 1-5 satisfaction scale). Top-ranked services included water supply, which scored 4.16 out of a possible 5, and sewage collection and treatment (at 4.11). Libraries, the Council pool and sporting facilities also scored exceptionally well.
- Conversely, six services had a mean score of below "par". Roads were the worst-ranked of the services measured (with unsealed roads scoring a mean of 2.49 and sealed roads a mean of 2.65 out of 5) followed closely by economic development and new investment (2.74) and development applications (2.82).
- In terms of importance, river water quality had the highest mean rating at 4.34 (again using a 1-5 scale). This was followed by sealed roads (4.27), waste and recycling (4.20), cleanliness of streets (4.00) and coastal and beach management (3.99).
- When placed into a matrix of importance vs. satisfaction, the following picture emerged:
Higher Importance, Lower Satisfaction
Higher Importance, Higher Satisfaction
Environmental monitoring and protection
Econ development/new investment
Footpaths and cycleways
Parks, reserves and playgrounds
Waste and recycling
Cleanliness of streets
Services for the elderly
Coastal and beach management
River water quality
Lower Importance, Lower Satisfaction
Lower Importance, Higher Satisfaction
Youth facilities and activities
Sewage collection and treatment
- Council is currently meeting expectations (i.e. where performance outweighs importance) across six out of 26 services (sewage collection and treatment, sporting facilities, libraries, community halls, water supply Council pool and online services). However in all but one instance (waste and recycling), the expectation gap has narrowed since 2013 – and in most case significantly. This suggests Council is performing better relative to community expectations.
- In terms of their overall satisfaction with Council’s performance, 46% declared themselves satisfied against 20% dissatisfied and the balance neutral. The weighted mean satisfaction rating of 3.28 was slightly above the 2013 benchmark score of 3.18.
- Roads (34%), attracting new businesses and investment (26%) and addressing environmental concerns and beach erosion (5%) were the top-mentioned priorities for Council resources.
- Some 54% of respondents had contact with Council’s administration during the previous 12 months, with half of these (51%) contacting Council three or more times.
- Three in five of those who contacted Council did so via the telephone (62%), while a quarter contacted Council face-to-face.
- Over half those respondents contacting Council had their issue resolved within one or two contacts (56%) but almost a third of respondents 31% indicated that their most recent enquiry was not yet resolved.
- Satisfaction ratings with Council handling of their most recent enquiry were quite polarised, with large proportions rating Council handling as either "very well" (32%), or "very poor" (26%). The mean handling rating was 3.19 with a net handling score of +13% suggesting that there were more good than bad experiences.
- Just over a third of respondents had used Council’s website in the past year (38%) – up sharply from the 25% recorded in 2013.
- Around half of those surveyed (46%) were aware of that rates information could now be accessed online. And a similar proportion of ratepayers with computers claimed they were interested in accessing this information online.
- Awareness of livetraffic.com.au was high at 72% while awareness of myroadinfo.com.au was poor at 27%.
- Perceptions of personal safety were generally high, with 95% of respondents feeling safe in their home at day, 80% feeling safe in their nearest town during the day, and 79% feeling safe in their home at night. However only 44% felt safe in their nearest town at night, against 28% feeling unsafe (the balance being neutral or unsure).
- Over half of respondents (56%) felt the Nambucca Shire should maintain the status quo and stand alone as a council, while one in five (21%) felt it should merge with one or more neighbouring Councils. A further 23% were undecided. Of those believing Council should amalgamate, the most popular merger partners were Bellingen and/or Coffs Harbour.
James Parker, B. Ec, Grad Cert Applied Science (Statistics), AMSRS
April 26th 2016