What is a submission?
A submission is just your comments in response to a document, as part of a consultation process.
Government planning processes usually involve a community consultation stage, where plans and details are open to the community for feedback, before the feedback is addressed and the final plans delivered.
A submission can be as simple as one line, or it can be pages long.
Your purpose, in making a comment, is to try and get useful changes to make the document/policy/plan better.
How to write a submission
Use specific points and provide justifications
Writing a long essay about why you disagree is less likely to be effective than making referenced points about what needs changing to make it better.
For example, “Section 3.2, paragraph 2, should say ‘will construct’ rather than ‘for future consideration’”, “On line 12 of page 9, it would be useful to clarify that this includes active transport, not just motor vehicles”, “Target 21 should be 5%, not 1.4%, because if all the actions in the plan are implemented, 5% is a realistic and useful target”.
Engage your audience
If your essay comes back from the teacher with the comment, “this is all rubbish, I disagree with all of it” it would be difficult to process and you wouldn’t feel like restarting. If there are specific changes or comments addressed to specific parts, they are more likely to be made. The person assessing the comments is usually required to classify and address all comments made – if yours are in point form this is much more likely to occur than if you write prose.
Prioritise your points
It’s also best to concentrate on the most important points, so those don’t get ignored and just the easier, less important points get ticked off.
Re-read your submission, thinking about how you would react as the document author. Are you making it easy to make the change – simple and well justified?
Amplifying your submission
Once you’ve put the effort into writing a submission (even if it is only one line), put it to work! Your comment could be ignored or dismissed by the recipient, but that’s much, much harder if it has become well known.
Encourage your friends to copy your line and send it in, too. Send it to groups who might be supportive and want to make a similar submission.
Send a copy to your state MP, councillor, environment groups, P&C. Who else might be inspired to make similar comment? This can make a huge impact. Especially if you’ve done it early enough to give others time to follow suit.
Repeat: this is a powerful tool. Use it!