Fifteen thousand fortunate households in the City of Greater
Geelong municipality recently received what I will call a "golden
ticket". They are fortunate because they have an opportunity
to join a Citizens' Jury to help redesign our Council.
The Citizens' Jury has been established by the Victorian State
Government to provide recommendations on how our community wants to
be democratically represented by a future Council.
Importantly, this is the first time in Australia a State Government
has asked "the people" to design their council.
Whether you are a supporter of the Citizens' Jury concept or
not, it is important that our community engages with the process as
the Jury's recommendations will help shape the structure of our
future Council. Therefore, if you are fortunate to receive a
letter in the mail seeking your input, please consider replying
with a "yes".
From all the "yes" responses received, the newDemocracy
Foundation - an independent organisation commissioned by the State
Government - will select 100 people who are representative of our
entire city. That should translate into people from Barwon
Heads to Lara, and from Hamlyn Heights to Grovedale. It should also
mean equal numbers of women and men with a broad mix of
occupations, education and backgrounds.
The more people that respond, the better the outcome will
Some people believe that the dismissal of the councillors from
the City of Greater Geelong provided the opportunity to start anew
but, in reality, the Citizens' Jury does that.
Think for a moment, have you ever uttered the words "I wish the
Council would?" or "Why did the Council do…?" or "Why doesn't the
Council listen to the people?"
Well if you have, and you received a "golden ticket", then
please take the time to respond and indicate that you would like to
be a part of the Citizens' Jury. Now is the time for those
who seek to make our tomorrow better.
According to the newDemocracy Foundation, members of the
Citizens' Jury will be paid. And the time commitment includes
three Saturday's where Jury members will learn about how Councils'
work, or even could work.
While the outcome of the Citizens' Jury process is unknown, the
State Government has confirmed its openness to totally new
ideas. Geelong is Victoria's second city and proudly
so. But second doesn't mean second tier, second rung or
second place. It is a concept that provides a freedom to do
things differently. Our city should therefore not be
constrained by the old way of doing things. Geelong could
have a council with more people, or less, or with two sub councils
or even an opposition and government.
The point is that, as Geelong transforms, our citycanbe
different. And it is those 15,000 fortunate people who get a
"golden ticket" that have the opportunity to make a
difference. All they have to do is reply "yes" to making a
better City of Greater Geelong.
Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive
Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter