AILA Engagement Framework
The AILA National Board employs various forms of communications and consultations to engage with the AILA membership and recognises that a range of communications strategies are necessary to create opportunities for ongoing dialogue and effective, inclusion decision making with and amongst the AILA membership.
AILA's communications with the membership usually fall under the following headings:
This form of engagement usually involves the Board, or its representatives, in making contact with the membership through various media to engage with the membership about concepts, ideas or early drafts of policies or directions being contemplated.
This form of engagement is the most participatory in that it relies on the membership engaging and responding to proposals and concepts and then, from the feedback received, the Board, or its working parties and representatives, usually move to the next stage of development or writing of the policy or statement.
After this feedback has been considered, the next stage usually involves further direct engagement with members on subsequent drafts to develop the proposed ideas or policy directions.
This form of consultation is usually via communiqués and/or newsletters whereby the Board, or its representatives and working groups, is communicating with members to seek information or feedback on proposed activities or those underway such as targeted national projects, or the development of national policy and position statements etc.
This form of consultation may be a consequent of the above (initial engagement) or may be a new set of communications following particular initiatives.
At times the Board needs to inform the members of activities being undertaken, agreed policy initiatives and various governance decisions that the Board Directors have had to make on behalf of the membership.
As the AILA is an ASIC registered Company, the Board of Directors is charged with the care and stewardship of the AILA as a Company and the Board is required to fulfil its duty under the Corporations Act and to make final determinations in a considered and timely manner.
In most cases this Engagement Framework allows for the involvement and feedback of the AILA membership, however sometimes decisions need to be made by those elected as the AILA Company Directors.
The AILA Protocols for implementing Consultations
An outline of the consultation and engagement processes undertaken by the National Office.
As part of the national operations of the AILA, the AILA Board engages the membership in consultations about new policy directions, revising policy documentation and other related advocacy issues.
The National Office, on behalf of the Board, usually oversees and implements such consultations.
Each consultation tends to be undertaken differently - and therefore the processes to be employed vary from case to case.
The implementation of national consultations is undertaken with the limited resources that are available to the Institute as well being mindful of the members volunteer time to contribute to such processes.
In most cases AILA's national consultations are overseen by the Chief Executive Officer and are undertaken using electronic communications and the uploading of documentation to the web site.
As each consultation varies - at times the process may involve engaging with the total membership or with selected groups within the membership. The processes could also involve a combination of workshops, published discussion papers as well as direct communiqués to the members.
The processes to be employed for each consultation are outlined at the commencement of each consultation.
The steps below reflect a process of consultation that may be employed for a major policy change. This could be over a period of one year.
Desk Research: Usually before each consultation, there is a body of work in existence that may reflect comments already received on past policy and/or some past policy documentation and/or examples of policy introduced by other institute or agencies.
The first task could be for the National Office to bring all the above research and former documentation together and for a very preliminary discussion paper to be drafted.
This very first paper could be passed over to specialists or out to selected individual the Board Members or members for further comment.
A first draft of a consultation paper is then put before the AILA Board for their comment, input and approval as a consultation paper to be circulated.
The National Office may then amend the paper in light of the Board's comments and may also seek other information if relevant.
At this stage it is usual to put the first consultation paper out for comment. Usually this is done through the web site and using national communiqués to alert the membership.
A date is advertised for close of comments.
It could be that special workshops are held to gain more direct feedback through face to face discussions around the issues being raised or the policy directions proposed.
If appropriate, a Question and Answer page is uploaded to the web site and linked to the consultations to reflect the questions being raised as the consultations progress.
A major factor of this stage which is often misunderstood is that the documentation in circulation is a consultation paper and often contains items and ideas that may or may not make it through to the final paper. Many times people respond to items raised in consultation as if they are already policy. All sorts of ideas could be floated and tested through the processes of this first consultation paper.
Following the closing date - the National Office (most likely the CEO or senior project officer) would draw on the comments received and outcomes of the workshops to put together a second consultation paper - which may or may not start to reflect what the final outcome may be.
As much as possible, the next paper reflects on the number and style of responses - but these usually vary and come in various forms including emails, letters, and directly by telephone.
More information or ideas may at this point be sought from a number of sources to better inform the paper and to deal with issues that may have been raised.
At some point the decision is made, usually by the CEO, to cease work on the paper and to present it to the full Boardl for their consideration - the paper usually at this stage contains specific recommendations and/or options for the Board to consider.
At this stage it is usual that the documentation should start to reflect what will possibly be the final outcome.
Following the discussions with the Board, it would be usual for another discussion paper to be put in circulation for membership comment.
This new paper would usually indicate to the members the most likely outcomes of the consultations. The paper would also most likely comment on the feedback already received.
The difficultly often encountered at this stage is that consultations draw out a variety of responses and the next paper has to reflect a set of recommendations and decisions being taken that may not always agree with particular points of view that were expressed in the first stage.
A new closing date is advertised for comments.
During this stage, more direct workshops may or may not be staged.
- As before, following the closing date - the National Office (the CEO or senior project officer) brings together the comments received and outcomes of any workshops to put together a paper for the Board's consideration.
This third paper also identifies the number and style of responses.
The CEO would usually at this stage put together a paper that should be in a form to be very close to the final policy paper. The recommendations at this stage would normally be for the Board to accept the final paper as being a paper that reflects on the feedback as well as current research and related documentation that was available through the consultation period.
At this stage, the Board is usually requested by the CEO to agree to the final paper as recommended. Of course the Board has the option to disagree and request final changes.
Provided that the recommendations are accepted, at this point the paper is finalised and then published and members notified of the final decisions.
Other forms of Consultations
Depending on the topic or needs, some national consultations may be judged to require a very short timeframe and a more limited rounds of discussions given the amount of information already available, such as where the topic or issue may have already been comprehensively researched and consulted on elsewhere. The AILA tries to avoid 'reinventing the wheel'.
Such processes may take the form of a series of workshops followed by the publishing of the finding as a draft 'directions paper' to encourage membership feedback.
At times such exercises are validation processes to validate other research and findings.