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Councillors’ decision-making role under scrutiny

RCV_2014_AMcKee_216A participatory budgeting workshop to be held at the Rural Summit later this month will challenge councillors’ views of their decision-making role, according to one of the presenters.

Cr Gaetano Greco of Darebin City Council said that the traditional view of councillors being the sole decision-makers needs to change.

“Councillors should actually be the facilitators of the community’s decision-making process,” Cr Greco said.

“They should be embracing participatory budgeting as a fundamental way of how councils operate with their community in order to make decisions,” he said.

President of the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA), Cr Sebastian Klein said the peak body will lead two ‘Participatory budgeting: making it work for you’ workshops for Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) Rural Summit delegates in Halls Gap on 16 April.

“Participatory budgeting is a practical, democratic process which allows a community to own their decisions instead of enduring council decrees,” Cr Klein said.

RCV Chair, Cr Rob Gersch said rural councils had been keeping an eye on the development of participatory budgeting among some of the larger councils in the state.

“For me, having been a councillor for years, it will be good to learn about this process as another tool to help build understanding in the community about the complexity of decisions and competing demands faced every year in allocating budget funds. I am sure councillors who are reasonably new to the role will also be keen to understand how this approach works,” Cr Gersch said.

Cr Gersch said he was pleased to have the VLGA presenting at the Summit.

The VLGA has local government, community organisations and individuals making up its membership and working together for progressive social change. The VLGA advocates for social change and empowers local governments by strengthening their capacity to engage with their communities and build democratic governance at the local level.

Austrade will also present a workshop at the Summit on Free Trade Agreements and the opportunities these hold for rural councils and communities.

This year’s speakers and panel sessions feature:
• Sir Bob Parker, former Christchurch City Mayor
• Matthew Evans, SBS presenter, chef and local food advocate
• Prof Elizabetta Barberio, scientist presenting on dark matter
• Emma Dean, former town planner and Masterchef winner
• Naomi Simson, founder of Red Balloon
“We are also pleased to advise that the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister for Finance, and member for Riverina, will attend the Summit on the Thursday,” Cr Gersch said.

The Rural Summit is an annual event of RCV.

RCV is the alliance of Victoria’s 38 rural councils. It supports and promotes sustainable, liveable and prosperous rural communities, including a program of activities focussed on developing practical solutions to issues shared by the state’s rural councils and communities.
You can learn more about the Rural Summit and book your tickets here.

The Rural Summit is proudly supported by Rural Councils Victoria with funding from the Victorian Government’s $3.3 million Networked Rural Councils program. This year’s event will be hosted by the Northern Grampians Shire Council from 15 to 17 April in Halls Gap.


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