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Beyond Lip Service: A Council Approach to Planning for Behaviour Change

  • Grahame Collier (a1) and Phil Smith (a2)


The Council of the City of Sydney – like many other councils around Australia – has embarked on a whole-of-council approach to establishing sustainable behaviours amongst its residents. In developing its Residential Environmental Action Plan - designed to motivate and bring about real change in resident choices and behaviours - the City sought to base its planning on a significant knowledge base.

It undertook a project which asked two fundamental questions: What does the literature say about behaviour change in the community? and What do the residents of the City of Sydney local government area say about the best ways to influence community behaviour? A review of behaviour change models and the conduct of focus groups and other informant interviews across the key demographics of the City of Sydney local government area, yielded two sets of criteria for behaviour change programs. Not surprisingly, both sets were similar and for ease of use they were merged into one shorter set of twelve criteria. These are useful in informing the design of programs or assessing whether existing programs are capable of affecting behaviour. The key claim in this paper is the importance of understanding both the theory and the local community at the design phase of any program. Good planning of behaviour change programs enables graceful interventions, the magic of co-learning and the power of adaptation.

The authors acknowledge the work and support of the City of Sydney in undertaking this project.


Corresponding author

T Issues Consultancy, PO Box 728, Balgowlah, NSW 2093, Australia. Email:


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Beyond Lip Service: A Council Approach to Planning for Behaviour Change

  • Grahame Collier (a1) and Phil Smith (a2)


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