Establishing a formal committee to oversee the development and implementation of a National Water Safety Plan can help ensure ongoing guidance and leadership is available from a number of relevant and committed stakeholders. The expertise and knowledge of committee members can help identify plan goals and objectives. Overtime, the committee can be used as a panel to provide feedback on the progress of plan implementation or provide suggestions to mitigate any challenges that may arise. The committee should meet regularly to review the progress of the plan, and to discuss upcoming opportunities and milestones. It is important to have a long-term committee agenda to ensure all members understand the outcomes which they are working towards. It may be useful to provide committee members with an annual calendar of meetings and other important dates at the first committee meeting.
Committee members can be identified through a number of different avenues. Many of these may be similar to community-level and national/regional stakeholder identification approaches.
To encourage stakeholders to maintain their involvement with the committee, it may be suitable to assign official roles to members. A role/responsibility alignment exercise can be used to determine which members would be best suited to each role. Some generic committee roles include a committee chair to lead each meeting and act as a spokesperson for the group, and a secretary to oversee all committee-related administrative tasks. You may like to assign committee members to advocacy roles, community engagement roles, research roles or funding acquisition roles. Developing a Terms of Reference document for committee members to review and sign can be a good method of outlining individual and broader committee goals, roles and responsibilities.
Addressing a large number of topics during each committee meeting may overwhelm committee members. It is therefore important to create a clear agenda for each meeting, prioritising agenda items in regards to their importance and urgency. Ensure that notes are taken throughout the meeting, summarising major points and action items discussed. Circulate these notes to all committee members post-meeting and be sure to follow-up on action items.
Through running a simple evaluation at the end of committee meetings, particularly ones held in early stages of plan development and implementation, the perceived effectiveness of meetings can be assessed. If members do not see value or benefit in attending meetings, they are unlikely to be active members of the committee. Short feedback forms may provide suggestions for more appropriate methods of utilizing committee member skills and experience.
- Provides a panel of people with relevant skills and experience to inform the development and guide the implementation of a National Water Safety Plan.
- The committee can act as a ‘think tank’ when addressing challenges or evaluating new opportunities over the course of plan implementation.
- Committee members can be a pathway to identifying more relevant stakeholders to engage with.
- Responsibilities associated with the water safety plan can distributed among a number of committee members, decreasing personal workload.
- Can be difficult to keep committee meetings on-track, particularly if multiple stakeholders are involved who have other similar interests. A strong chairperson needs to lead each meeting, keeping discussion on track.
- It can be difficult to gain commitment from committee members for long-term involvement, particularly those with a large number of competing priorities.
- ‘Sitting fees’ paid to committee members for participation may be expensive.
- It may be time consuming to coordinate meetings, organise meeting agendas and create meeting minutes.
A committee should be established after the core goals of a National Water Safety Plan have been determined, and prior to any detailed plan development. This will ensure that relevant committee members are selected, yet flexibility remains surrounding plan objectives and approaches to intervention, allowing for effective committee member input.
Australian Water Safety Council
Overview of a steering committee
Elements of effective committees (PDF 41KB)
Approaches to forming a committee (PDF 50KB)