– The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of the role of communication in the sustainability reporting process within Australian local councils. The study focuses on three areas; understanding and awareness levels of local councils towards sustainability, sustainability reporting methods and the importance of community engagement.
– A qualitative semi-structured interview approach was adopted for this investigation. In total, 18 semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior managers across 13 local councils.
– Findings indicate that sustainability reporting is very much an emerging field in local government in Australia with varying levels of understanding and awareness of sustainability amongst councils. A lack of consistency in the current communication message being produced was found along with a lack of community engagement by most councils in the reporting process. Without clarity in the communication process, sustainability reporting in the local government context will continue to falter without a clear focus.
– The paper suggests the need for the local government sector to carefully consider the role of communication in an effort to provide direction on how best to discharge their sustainability accountabilities.
– Little attention has been given to the role of communication in accounting. The findings contribute to an understanding surrounding communication process issues in an effort to advance the sustainability reporting agenda within local government.
sustainability reporting, communication, public sector, local council, local government