Facing community opposition to the development of a new mental health rehabilitation centre in a suburban area, the Victorian Department of Human Services sought our counsel.
The proposed centre would serve individuals with mental health issues who had been found guilty of a serious offence. Community opinion was overwhelmingly negative, and one councillor was actively inflaming opposition via a grassroots campaign.
Our approach was to tackle the issues head-on. We developed a model with a compelling case for the centre, which openly acknowledged community concerns. We used this model as the basis for all communication materials for a meeting, including speeches and fact sheets. We also provided meeting management advice and tips for responding to difficult questions.
Approximately 140 residents attended the meeting. The Department was able to closely adhere to our recommended structure and messaging, and there were no interjections. As a result of our work, residents who attended the meeting acknowledged an increased level of comfort around the development of the centre.