The SpeakOut:

Wagga Wagga Integrated Transport Study

In December 2015 Steph Vajda and Wendy Sarkissian worked with GTA Consultants to deliver a SpeakOut engagement event as part of the Wagga Wagga Integrated Transport Study.

The Wagga Wagga Integrated Transport Study (WWITS) SpeakOut was held on Saturday 12 December 2015 from 9am until 12noon at the Civic Centre, Burns Way Wagga Wagga.

Local community members who attending provided facilitators with  a range of perspectives on the issue stalls available at the engagement event, including:

  • Stall 1 – Vote With Your Hands
  • Stall 2 – Welcome and registration (not analysed in this report)
  • Stall 3 – The Story of the WWITS
  • Stall 4 – Walking
  • Stall 5 – Cycling
  • Stall 6 – Cars and traffic
  • Stall 7 –  Public transport
  • Stall 8 – Parking
  • Stall 9 – Education, engagement and empowerment
  • Stall 10 – RMS (not analysed in this report)
  • Stall 11 – Final contributions

These stalls were facilitated by Wagga Wagga City Council staff specialised in the specific issues and themes represented by each stall’s focus.

While the WWITS SpeakOut was a modified version of the true SpeakOut process, the images still provide a good sense of how these events function and how people participate in them.

 What is a SpeakOut?

Dr Wendy Sarkissian and Andrea Cook originally designed the SpeakOut engagement process in 1990.

The SpeakOut is a lively, innovative, colourful and interactive staffed exhibition — a hybrid event combining some of the characteristics of a meeting and some of an exhibition or ‘open house’.

The purpose is to provide an informal and interactive ‘public meeting’ environment where a wide range of people have a chance to participate. It is designed to facilitate structured ‘drop-in’ participation about planning and design issues. Participants come to the venue, find the issues on which they wish to ‘speak out’ and have their say.

A SpeakOut is used in any community planning process and can be organised at the start of a process — to introduce a community to a project and generate early enthusiasm and participation — or at the end of a process to ‘test’ material generated in other consultation processes and ‘wrap up’ a substantial consultation phase. The applications of SpeakOuts are really only limited by one’s imagination, as it can be tailored to a number of issues and to a range of communities. A SpeakOut has broad appeal and allows a wide range of participation.

The SpeakOut works well where specific community feedback or input is sought (for example, a redevelopment, a design process, a needs analysis, etc.). It can be effective when wide community participation is sought and a less structured time format than a formal public meeting or workshop is acceptable (or desired) — as a result, it attracts a great deal more interest than the typical public meeting (a SpeakOut generally attracts several hundred people). It can be used in the early stages of a participation process to gather ideas (issue identification) or in later stages where the results of studies/planning are being communicated back to community members.

For more information on the SpeakOut model, refer to Speaking Out in Community Engagement: A Review of Fifteen Years of Refinement of the SpeakOut Model by Wendy Sarkissian and Andrea Cook

A SpeakOut is an engagement event

that looks like an interactive staffed exhibition

It combines aspects of meetings and ‘open houses’

SpeakOuts are useful at the start  or end of engagement processes

People can drop in and view one stall, several or all, depending on their time and interest

Photos from the Wagga Wagga Integrated Transport Study SpeakOut

We published a book on the SpeakOut model!


SpeakOut: The Step-by-Step Guide to SpeakOuts and Community Workshops (Earthscan Tools for Community Planning)

Written with Wendy Sarkissian and Wiwik Bunjamin-Mau

Buy it from Amazon

Follow this link to buy our book from Amazon

Praise for the book...

“It’s time to deepen the public conversation! SpeakOut gives us an intimate look at how we can do that.”

Dr. Patricia A. Wilson (Professor of Planning and Civic Engagement, University of Texas, Austin)

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