Participatory Democracy

A Living Charter – executive summary

Community Voice – Democratic Renewal in Hepburn Shire

Community Voice is a grassroots, volunteer, non-party political movement that aims to shift the process of local government in Hepburn Shire towards participatory democracy by encouraging continual community civic participation.

Community Voice, a collaboration by a group of local people, was born out of the feeling by many Hepburn Shire community members, that Hepburn Shire Council was not listening to their concerns and aspirations. This subjective perception was validated by the 2020 Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey report.

Community Voice’s immediate objective is to support the election of councillors in the October 2020 election, who align themselves with Community Voice’s Charter – which sets out the core values, principles and processes necessary to build inclusive and participatory democracy in Hepburn Shire.

The core values and principles Community Voice espouses are mutual respect and care, inclusion and equity, collaboration, localisation, innovation, evidence-based and experience-based policy development and problem solving, and resilience.

The processes Community Voice believes each councillor has a responsibility to adhere to are: community engagement and participation, participatory decision-making, dismantling barriers to participation, establishing community working groups, and engagement with accountability models and processes as they are established.

After the October election and ongoing, Community Voice will monitor and support each councillor’s commitment and adherence to the Charter, and also to accountability measures to be developed in collaboration with diverse community members across the Shire.

Community Voice’s longer-term objective is to be a conduit between the Hepburn Shire community and its Council, to help build a highly valued and collaborative relationship – a bridge to democratic renewal across the Shire.

Community Voice believes that in the complex and challenging times we now face, participatory democracy is the process most likely to result in informed and inclusive policy development and decision making in Hepburn Shire, ultimately resulting in a stronger community.

Community Voice invites all people in Hepburn Shire to add their voices to help create a more cohesive and engaged community, both now and into the future.