August 24th, 2020New grassroots movement launched
Spokesperson Jen Bray said Community Voice aimed to shift the process of local government in Hepburn Shire towards participatory democracy by encouraging continual community participation.
Ms Bray said over the past eight or nine months there had been a number of issues with the council with many people unhappy about decisions and governance.
“There was a need to focus this energy. You could look back to the Local Law 2 issue where people started to catch on to the things council was starting to push through and realised if they didn’t get involved laws could be passed without questioning.
“Other issues are the Smith Street (Daylesford) development, the planning scheme, just different things that council was not doing a very good job communicating with us (residents). Then when the state government’s Satisfaction Survey results came out it was clear that the areas that council were very poor in were consultation, community decision making and engagement. That kind of says it all really.
“And that’s the key to this group, it’s been the tone for the past eight or nine months, just one of general dissatisfaction. So, a group of people said ‘Let’s focus on this’ and with the elections coming up the timing seemed good. We are going to see if we can look at new councillors with a new mindset, something more aligned to a participatory democracy model. At the moment community consultation seems very tokenistic, like ticking a box.”
Ms Bray said council candidates would be given a rating on how closely they aligned themselves with the democracy model and if they scored well, would be supported by Community Voice.
“After the October election, Community Voice will monitor each councillor’s commitment to community engagement, push for better models of community participation and hold them to account in their decision making. We’re encouraging all shire citizens to use their community voice and participate in our local democracy.”
Words: Donna Kelly
Pictured, a community-led meeting in November last year regarding Local Law 2. About 150 residents attended, sitting in a democratic circle. Councillors and council officers were invited to attend and listen, but not speak.