Faced with a reduction in funding alongside increased demand for services, the City of Greater Bendigo in Victoria held a Citizens' Jury to address this challenge with the considered view of the community. The jury were asked to consider how the council should spend its money in the coming years.
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Problems and Purpose
Like many local governments in Australia, the City of Greater Bendigo is faced with a reduction in state and federal funding, coupled with the growing demand for improved infrastructure and service provision. Bendigo council is in the process of developing a four-year strategic plan, and the citizens' jury will feed into this. The jury are being asked to consider:
"What should Council spend our money on to shape the community’s future?"
Background History and Context
newDemocracy Foundation, who undertook the design and implementation of the Bendigo Jury, also ran a Citizens' Jury on a similar topic in Eurobodalla, New South Wales. Both councils were at a critical point - with elections coming up and the need to deliver plans on service provisions in the near future.
"As a research based organisation, we are keen to understand how two regional localities respond to similar subject matter and designs.
This is an unprecedented opportunity to observe, record and assess the two as both not only cover content related to local government services and expenditure, but will be operating within similar timeframes and under similar external social/media/political environmental factors at state and national levels.
This mirroring also offers ESC and Greater Bendigo an important opportunity to share learning and knowledge, continuing the strong tradition within local government of cross-organisational growth and development. nDF will be pleased to facilitate and support this connection and sees this as a valuable way to leave a strong legacy of "doing democracy differently" within both councils" (newDemocracy Foundation 2016)
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Bendigo Jury is funded by the City of Greater Bendigo Council. It has been designed and implemented by an independent nonprofit research organisation, newDemocracy Foundation.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Invitations were sent by post to 3,000 Greater Bendigo residents. Out of those who registered interest, a second random sample was drawn to select the jurors, which reflected the demographics of the area. Jurors were paid a stipend of $400 (AUD) to participate in the jury. 25 people were selected to attend.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
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Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
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Analysis and Lessons Learned
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City of Greater Bendigo Council (2016) Citizens' Jury [online], available at: https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/About_the_City/News_and_Engagement/Have_y... [DEAD LINK]
newDemocracy Foundation (2016) City of Greater Bendigo Citizens' Jury [online], available at: http://www.newdemocracy.com.au/ndf-work/314-city-of-greater-bendigo-citi...