Democracy shift for Hepburn

The launch of a new ‘Community Voice’ group marks a new era of democracy in Hepburn Shire.
Community Voice is a non-political grassroots movement that aims to shift the process of local government towards participatory democracy by encouraging continual community participation.
Spokesperson Jen Bray said the results of the 2020 Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey, released in June, confirmed what many members of the Hepburn Shire community had been feeling for some time.
“Council wasn’t listening,” Ms Bray said.
“According to the survey, perceptions of Hepburn Shire Council’s overall performance fell to an all-time low in 2020.
“This is reflected in most service areas, where performance ratings have declined significantly over the past year.”
Ms Bray said Community Voice was born out of this frustration at a lack of genuine consultation and council’s failure to listen to the concerns and aspirations of local people on matters of public interest.
“The overall objective of Community Voice is to be a conduit between the Hepburn Shire community and its council, to help build a highly valued and collaborative relationship – to be a bridge to democratic renewal in the Shire,” she said.
“Its 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.
“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.
“Community Voice believes that in the complex and challenging times we now face, participatory democracy is essential to informed and inclusive policies and decisions, to build a healthier, more resilient community in the Hepburn Shire.
“We’re encouraging all shire citizens to use their community voice and participate in our local democracy.”

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