The Citizen Handbook
Citizen Tools for Participation
Town Halls & Public Consultations
Be Prepared Before You Speak
Remember you must be prepared to clearly explain the issue you are there to talk about, explain what solutions you are seeking and show how strong your community support is!
All levels of government must offer the public opportunities to provide input into the policies, programs and projects that have an impact on citizen’s lives. It is your responsibility to monitor the media newspapers, FM Radio, websites, social media sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter, etc.) to stay up to date with the on-going public consultations and town hall meetings that are being held in your community. You can also use these communication methods to spread your own message. Ask town hall organisers to add you to their distribution lists for media advisories or email invitations, if they are available. Once you are aware of the meetings, it is important that you attend regularly and use the opportunity to listen closely and speak up when time is made available for public comment.
Benefit of Town Halls & Public Consultations
Attending town halls and public consultations will help you in a number of ways. Below are some key benefits to such public forums:
· Understand the issues better by hearing both sides of the issue as well as the explanations by public officials and/or community leaders about what they are doing to resolve the issue;
· Identify what government officials are responsible for administering policies and programs in that area;
· Provide you with access to a network of other stakeholders if you introduce yourself and exchange contact information;
· Give you an opportunity to give input on your issues either as an oral presentation or in writing;
· Give you an opportunity to follow up on previous commitments, ask officials to explain what they are doing to address your issues or why they have not moved to solve the issue.