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Legislation and policies

Engagement policy

We recognise that the most effective way to successfully manage water is by collaborating with our stakeholders and the greater community.

Staff working in an engagement session held in Tamworth.

Water stakeholder and community engagement policy

We are committed to effective and genuine engagement with stakeholders and the broader community. The department recognises that engaging with stakeholders and the community leads to better public policy outcomes, improved service delivery and enhanced customer satisfaction.


Our Water stakeholder and community engagement policy describes how we will complete this engagement.

Download the Policy (PDF. 175KB)

Independent review of the water engagement policy

The Water Group engaged KPMG between November 2021–March 2022 to conduct the independent review (audit) of the Water stakeholder and community engagement policy and provide recommendations for a recurring audit program framework. This was a direct action to respond to Recommendation 9 of the November 2020 ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) Report (further details below).

The review considered the implementation and effectiveness of the policy against the following engagement standards:

  • AccountAbility AA1000 Accountability Principles Standard (AA1000APS)
  • Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AA1000SES)
  • International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Quality Assurance Standard.

The gap analysis focused on the following elements:

  1. Commitment and policy – Formalise and communicate a commitment to better practice principles, and develop an organisation-wide strategy for stakeholder and community engagement
  2. Governance and decision-making – Integrate engagement outputs into organisational governance, strategy and management and establish a mandate and owners for engagement
  3. Purpose, priorities, and planning – Determine the purpose and scope of engagement programs, undertake stakeholder mapping, determine appropriate engagement techniques, ensure capability and capacity, identify and prepare for engagement risks, and prepare a stakeholder engagement plan
  4. Delivery – Conduct and document engagement, in part through inviting and supporting the participation of stakeholders
  5. Results and outcomes – Develop and communicate a response to engagement outputs, and demonstrate the influence of participant input
  6. Evaluation and review – Monitor and evaluate the engagement using measurable indicators and identify and act on learnings.

Findings and recommendations from the April 2022 Audit Report are below:


The letter of observation is a summary of KPMG’s activities, findings, and recommendations.

Download the letter (PDF. 271KB)


The audit report is an account of KPMG’s detailed findings and recommendations.

Download the report (PDF. 883KB)

The Water Group is developing a strategy and plan to support implementation of the NSW Water Strategy Priority 1. This will include actions to respond to the audit recommendations, and include a regular review of the policy’s implementation and effectiveness to support better practice against engagement standards.

Improving stakeholder engagement

The ICAC November 2020 Investigation into complaints of corruption in the management of water in NSW and systemic non-compliance with the Water Management Act 2000 report included 15 recommendations. Three related to stakeholder engagement:

Recommendation 8

That the DPE publishes all stakeholder and community engagement plans concerning water management when they are complete.

Recommendation 9That the DPE tasks an appropriately qualified and experienced independent reviewer to conduct, on a recurrent basis, reviews of the steps taken to implement its “Water stakeholder and community engagement policy” and the policy’s effectiveness. The independent reviewer should have the function of making such recommendations as they think necessary to ensure that all water stakeholders have their interests heard in a fair, balanced, and transparent way.
Recommendation 10

That the DPE develops a model procedure concerning the conduct of meetings with external stakeholders in respect of water management issues that includes requirements to:

  • Make records of these meetings
  • Publish meeting details including attendees, organisations represented and meeting agendas, on the water area of the Department’s website at least monthly.

The Water Group committed to implementing these recommendations as described, in the March 2021 response to the ICAC Report.

The Department’s 12-month Progress Report on implementing actions will be submitted to ICAC in May 2022 and published on ICAC’s website.