You are on page 1of 4

Leadership and Good Governance - Reports

6.6

Ordinary Meeting - 02 March 2016

PROPOSED CITIZENS JURY AS THE FIRST STEP TO THE COUNCIL


PLAN FOR THE NEW COUNCIL

Document Information
Author and
Responsible
Director

Prue Mansfield, Director Planning and Development

Summary/Purpose
This report recommends undertaking an independent Citizens' Jury process during 2016
to provide independent community input into:
The development of the next Council Plan.
Understanding better what the community as a whole wants to see as the key focus
and priorities for the City in the period 2017-2021
and have evidence for Council, the community and Essential Services Commission that
we understand community priorities.
Policy Context
Council Plan 2013-2017 (2015-2016 Update)
Council set two priorities for the 2013-2017 chapter in Greater Bendigo's history, one of
which is:
Completing detailed planning in important areas including transport, residential and
economic development, in preparation for the continued increase in population.
Theme 1 - Leadership & Good Governance
1.1

Good governance principles are used to guide strategic decision-making:


1.1.4 Plan for the 2016 Council elections and the induction and training of
Councillors following the election.

1.4

Community engagement strategies and methods are adapted and updated to


improve how the community can receive information in an accessible form and
provide feedback to Council.

Background
The new Council Plan must be submitted by 30 June 2017. If the Council Plan
development doesn't start until after the election, allowing enough time for the work of
committed engagement and listening by June 2017 will be as challenging for the
incoming Council as it was for the current Council.
In developing the community engagement guidelines, the Council sets out to use new,
contemporary methods of community engagement. A "Citizens' Jury" is one such model.

PAGE 206

Leadership and Good Governance - Reports

Ordinary Meeting - 02 March 2016

Using this technique during 2016 will provide clear and considered advice to the
incoming Council as it deliberates on setting priorities for its term of office.
In addition, if the new Council want to propose a rate increase above the cap, it will need
to demonstrate it has sought the community's view and considered it. This Citizens' Jury
process would meet that requirement.
Report
Citizens' juries are a reasonably new model of engagement in Australia.
The goal is for more people to have more confidence in more decisions of Council into
the future, because "people who look like me and are not part of the establishment" have
made these recommendations.
This goal is achieved by the way the panel is established and the process conducted.
The process is run independently. newDemocracy is a foundation that has considerable
experience in this field, who would be engaged to run the process. City staff provide
logistic, event and administrative support to the process.
newDemocracy finalise the details independently, but the key features include:
Invitations are sent to a large, randomly selected group of people, explaining the task,
commitment and process to them. People are invited to express interest in being
involved.
From those that express interest, random selection of about 26 people is made
(based on population size) and aligned with the demographic profile, (because of the
nature of our municipality, 15% of places would be reserved for people who live
outside the Bendigo urban area).
Jury members are provided with the background information (briefing book) required.
Submissions are sought from other interested people. These are provided as part of
the briefing book.
Jury members come together for 6 days over about 10 weeks to deliberate. These
days are run by an independent facilitator.
The Jury can seek specialist advice or information from whoever they agree to.
Most juries agree an issue needs "super-majority" - 80%, for any recommendation to
be supported.
The Jury provides a final report to the Council.
The whole process takes about 6 to allow for the selection process and for the
community members involved to receive, absorb and deliberate on the question.
As Councillors will recall from their discussion in developing the community engagement
policy and guidelines, two of the most important steps are:
1. What is the question for which Council is seeking an answer?
2. What does the Council commit to do with that answer?
The advice from newDemocracy is that for a Citzens' Jury to be effective, the question
needs to be something that the Council and community is grappling with, a hard question
and reasonably specific. In discussion with them, the proposed question could be:

PAGE 207

Leadership and Good Governance - Reports

Ordinary Meeting - 02 March 2016

"Can we accommodate the growth of our City without increasing the rates
beyond the rate cap?"
Or
"Is Council spending your money on the right things?"
If Council proceeds with this proposal, the question would be finalised in discussion with
newDemocracy.
Some would question whether it is effective to conduct this process now as the current
Council cannot commit to implementing the outcomes.
Given:
In most elections, some Councillors are returned so there is continuity;
It will provide very useful information and input to the new Council;
Given the timing of the election and Christmas, if the Jury was not started until after
the election, it would have to run from about February to July. This is too late for the
recommendations to be used by the new Council in adopting the new 4 year Council
Plan;
it is recommended the process be conducted from March to August 2016.
In this circumstance, the following commitments of the current Council are
recommended:
That the full report is made available for their information;
That the full report is made publically available when received;
The Jury is invited to present its findings to the current Council;
That the full report is made available to the incoming Council.
It will be recommended that the incoming Council:
Invites the Jury to present their recommendations as part of their induction.
Provides a formal response to the Jury and the general community on its acceptance
(or otherwise) of each of the recommendations.
Input from Others to the Jury Process
Once the question has been settled and the process started, input is invited from the
broader community through inviting submissions, online comments, media and Greater
Bendigo News.
In addition, anyone can attend the sessions when the jury is deliberating, as observers.
Any questions or comments from the observers are recorded for the jury to consider.
Resource Implications
In-house resources required are estimated to be:
3.0EFT for 4 weeks, peaking at the beginning of the process, but spread over the
duration of the project;
Provision of venues
Graphic design of invitations.

PAGE 208

Leadership and Good Governance - Reports

Ordinary Meeting - 02 March 2016

It is estimated that approximately $89,000 would be required for:

Independent facilitator(s)
Per day rate for participants
Research fee to newDemocracy
Other support.

As there is no budget allocation for this project, it would be an over-expenditure of


$30,000 in this financial year (included in the mid-year budget review) and approximately
$58,000 in the 2016/2017 financial year (which is included in draft budget).
Conclusion
An independently facilitated Citizens' Jury process is an innovative approach to involving
our community in the future direction of the City. It will make a significant contribution to
the vision of "Greater Bendigo - working together to be Australia's most liveable regional
city" by building confidence that Councillors are listening to the views of a broad range of
our residents.
RECOMMENDATION
That the Greater Bendigo City Council resolve:
1. To undertake an independent Citizens' Jury process, to commence as soon as
practical;
2. That the full report is made available to the current Council for their information;
3. That the full report is made publically available when received;
4. That the Jury will be invited to present its findings to the current Council;
5. That the full report is made available to the incoming Council.

PAGE 209