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Committee for Geelong's Weekly Addy Opinion Piece - Citizens' Jury

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 be. 

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 @Comm4Geelong.



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