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Submissions are intended to allow participants to respond to proposals or ideas in some detail. They are used widely in urban planning development decisions and are intended to allow interested parties to make detailed responses to development proposals in this context.

They can be used in a broader context to allow the community to have their say or present their ideas in written detail. Submissions may be in the form of a letter, a short document or a substantial paper. They may include appendices and other supporting documents. The best submissions are those that provide reasons and justifications for specific comments.


  • Submissions allow interested community members or groups to make a detailed response to a proposal, which would usually be a development or resource management proposal.


  • Submissions provide government agencies and decision-makers with more detailed information on which to base planning or development decisions.


  • Allows a group to provide details of their position on an issue.
  • Can satisfy statutory or legal requirements.
  • Allows people to have a say.
  • Review of written response submissions helps get a sense of the range of concerns of interested parties, their contact details and a mailing list for subsequent project information.

Special considerations/weaknesses:

  • They are passive in nature. The communication is one way and there is no chance for discussion.
  • They are mainly used by persons with a significant stake in a project.
  • Requires time and energy, often with short timelines, which may discourage under-resourced community groups.
  • Communication is limited to the written form.
  • Is not well used as a participation tool.
  • With the advent of electronic submissions, avoid sending multiple submissions.

Resources required:

  • Staff/volunteers

Can be used for:

  • Showcase product, plan, policy
  • Engage community
  • Discover community issues
  • Communicate an issue

Number of people required to help organize:

  • Large (> 12 people)
  • Medium (2-12 people)
  • Individual

Audience size:

  • Large (> 30)
  • Medium (11-30)

Time required:

  • Medium (6 weeks-6 months)
  • Short (< 6 weeks)

Skill level/support required:

  • High (Specialist skills)
  • Medium (Computer & other expertise)
  • Low (No special skills)


  • High (> AUD$10,000)
  • Medium (AUD$1,000-AUD$10,000)
  • Low (< AUD$1,000)

Participation level:

  • Low (Information only)

Innovation level:

  • Low (Traditional)


  • Keep an alert for calls for submissions from government departments or other organizations responsible for management decisions in areas of direct concern to your community. Any individual or organization can make a submission to a parliamentary committee.
  • When possible, designate a group to work on the submission and allow plenty of time to develop a well thought out, clearly argued statement of your position, with explanations and reasons for the attitudes and positions adopted.
  • Ensure your submission meets the terms of reference in the call for submission.
  • Check the requested format (e.g. the Australian Government requests that submssions be printed on A4 paper; electronic submission on disc or CD-rom in Microsoft Word). In printed submissions, include a cover page with a title that clearly indicates what your submission is about, the full name of your organization, and contact details (return address and telephone numbers). On the next page, include a brief summary of the main points in the submission. Submissions should be signed, and clearly indicate whether the individual is signing on behalf of an organisation, or submitting a personal opinion. Add any helpful documentation in an appendix.
  • If a request for submissions has a very short lead time, consider what you can do. One page with your key concerns (with explanations) and your preferred outcome, is better than no communication at all.
  • Ensure that submissions are delivered to the correct address and by the due date.
  • Request feedback on the submission process, and any decision and outcomes that result.


Many of the resources in the “Participatory Practices” category originated in Coastal CRC's Citizen Science Toolbox (www.coastal.crc.org.au/toolbox/). With permission, NCDD included the resource on our wiki so practitioners could expand upon the listing.

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