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Locals demand real participation

27 Mar 2012

Locals demand real participation Image

By Shane Scanlan

Docklands came together in an impressive and rare display of solidarity to request real participation in the governance of our suburb on March 20.

Some 60 people turned out for the Docklands Co-ordination Committee meeting at which future governance models were discussed with Places Victoria (PV) and the City of Melbourne.

The authorities are exploring models to replace the co-ordination committee which has failed to involve the community in any meaningful way since it was established in 2007.

The council and PV had proposed an irregular “community forum” whereby people could come together to air grievances and make suggestions about how to improve the suburb.

However, the consensus from the assembled Docklanders was that a seat at the decision-making table would be required if people were to be properly motivated to participate.

A model whereby a properly-resourced forum headed by a local Docklander chairperson and an as-of-right membership for peak bodies with input into the City of Melbourne’s meeting cycle was popularly supported.

Failing that, the appointment of the heads of Docklands’ stakeholder groups (Destination Docklands, Chamber of Commerce and Community Association) to the council/PV’s steering group would also be a way of ensuring the voice of Docklands is not only heard, but is acted upon.

After enduring years of “consultation” without any evidence of being heard, Docklanders are cynical about the capacity of PV and the council to include them.

At the beginning of the March 20 meeting, City of Melbourne CEO Kathy Alexander attempted to head off a request from the floor for inclusion of Docklanders in the decision-making.

Dr Alexander said this was not appropriate for statutory and legal reasons.

“Decision-making is the responsibility of councillors at a council meeting,” she said.

The meeting was led by a professional facilitator and was broken into six groups, each headed by a member of the co-ordination committee.

The fact that each group reported back with essentially the same message was testament to Docklands’ unity on this issue.

At the end of the meeting, Dr Alexander said she would take away all the feedback which she admitted included “a lot of consensus”.

And in attempt to reassure the meeting that the authorities were serious about working with Docklanders, she said: “We’d be fools to walk away from this (consensus)”.

Dr Alexander said co-ordination committee members would “go back and have another go at it”.

She said that another model would be proposed by May and she hoped a new structure would be in place by June.

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  • Rose M at 1:50pm on 16/04/12

    Hear! Hear! Let's hope the council really does hear us since we're bringing more and more funds into their coffers and we vote!

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