Creating fit for purpose Local Government advocacy

Michael Comninos and Charlie Gillon
February 3, 2020

Advocacy is an important skillset to develop to secure support for your outcomes. Our work with Councils in strategy and advocacy seeks to influence and build partnerships with diverse stakeholders to help deliver infrastructure, facilities and services that are of value to the community and require more than one organisation. Whether you are regulated, funded or seek to partner with government you are seeking their attention, priority and appreciation of your position.


In our experience, fit for purpose advocacy is always grounded in empathy. A shared understanding between you and your counterparty, and a commitment to work towards a common mission.


This is particularly important for Councils that are growing fast. Growing and changing populations bring new demands for services and infrastructure. For instance, the need for new schools and youth services as young families move in, health services to support the population as it ages, and upgrading transport linkages as flows of people increase. In addition, fast growth can transform the regional role of a Council: say, from a low density suburban area to a city hub. Institutions and organisations need to be enticed to play a part in this change.

The strategic triangle

Astrolabe approaches advocacy using the strategic triangle as a framework to explain the motivations of any public service:

Public Value

The first element is identifying and prioritising what projects will provide the best outcome for public value. Through direct engagement with the community – its citizens, its workers and visitors, and its councillors – and stakeholders, clarifying what outcomes you want to secure. 

Legitimacy and support

The second element of our advocacy approach is legitimacy and support. This prioritises what outcomes to focus on delivering. It also provides the mandate: a commitment to deliver outcomes.

Organisational capacity

An advocacy strategy helps to align public value with legitimacy and support. This then empowers the third element of the strategic triangle: organisational capacity. This is the ability to get things done. What existing strengths does the organisation have in delivery, how can you better organise your resources? Where there are limitations, can you partner and collaborate instead? 

In combining these three elements, Councils can be best placed to make change happen. 

Advocacy and partnering go hand in hand

Simply advocating for change doesn’t make it happen. The crucial step is turning an advocacy message into partnerships and collaborations with regulators and investors. Partnering and collaborating effectively is increasingly a requirement for Councils, responding to a growing trend towards project-based project delivery or case-based service delivery. different entities to work together to provide better citizen and customer outcomes. 

Facilitating successful partnering and collaboration is one of Astrolabe’s specialities - we have a strong track record of embedding collaboration and partnerships in strategy implementation and policy innovation. Most notably Astrolabe Group played a pivotal role in establishing the Western Sydney Planning Partnership as a part of the Western Sydney City Deal, which brought together 8 the local councils of the Western Parkland City.

Written by Michael Comninos and Dr Charlie Gillon

Want to know more? Summer Masterclasses for advocacy and partnerships this February!

Michael and Charlie are facilitating two masterclasses on February 12th, 2020 that explore advocacy and collaboration

These two sessions: ‘Designing fit for purpose advocacy’ and ‘Strategy Implementation through Partnerships’ are designed to complement each other. 

For more information, and to register, go to https://astrolabegroup.com.au/masterclasses/


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