Green Wedge Management Plan Community Panel

A Community Panel made up of 39 randomly selected members from the community sat for six days from August to November 2018 to hear about and consider the many issues impacting the management of the Green Wedge.

A Community Panel (sometimes called a Citizens Jury) is an example of deliberative democracy. You can find out more about deliberative democracy here.

AS community panel is made up of randomly selected members from the community who are given the task of diving deeply into information on the topic to really understand all the issues, and then as a group, make recommendations.

You can examples of other community panels in these videos:

Ten thousand invitations were sent to randomly selected Nillumbik households and businesses, inviting people to nominate themselves for the Community Panel.

When people registered to express their interest to be part of the Community Panel, independent recruitment company Deliberately Engaging, who is external to Nillumbik Shire Council, asked a few demographic questions such as age, suburb and gender.

From these responses, 44 people were chosen based on their demographic profile and where they reside, representative of the Nillumbik population. The recruitment company divided the interested people into separate groups based on their age, gender and location within the Shire. Then, a simple random selection was made from each group.

Council, and the facilitators (MosaicLab) did not know who was on the Panel until they walked through the door at the Meet and Greet session on Thursday 9 August 2018.

In summary:

44 people were initially recruited for the Panel. Four of these people chose not to participate, leaving 40 panel members.

Of the 40 panel members appointed:

  • 21 were women and 19 men
  • 36 were residents and 4 were business owners (they might also be residents but were chosen because they have a business in Nillumbik)
  • 18 were from the urban areas and 22 from the rural area

Of the 36 residents, 4 were renters and 32 owned their home. Of the 36 residents:

  • 2 were 18-24 years old
  • 6 were 25-34 years old
  • 8 were 35-49 years old
  • 15 were 50-69 years old
  • 5 were 70+ years old

These age groups are similar to Nillumbik’s population, as identified in the Census.

The Census tells us:

  • 18-24 years is 12.5 per cent of our adult population, and would ideally be 5 people on the Panel
  • 25-34 years is 12 per cent of our adult population, and would ideally be 5 people on the Panel
  • 35-49 years is 28 per cent of our adult population, and would ideally be 11 people on the Panel
  • 50-69 years is 37 per cent of our adult population, and would ideally be 15 people on the Panel
  • 70+ years is 10 per cent of our adult population, and would ideally be 4 people on the Panel

Mosaic Lab were engaged as independent consultants to facilitate the community panel. They have provided a comprehensive summary of the entire panel process.

Here is a summary of each of the six panel days:

By the end of six full panel days they came up with recommendations on the best way for the Green Wedge to be managed and presented these recommendations in a report to Council. The Community Panel must have an 80 per cent majority agreement on any recommendation they put forward to Council.

Observers are an important part of any deliberative process as they provide a necessary conduit to the broader community about ‘how’ the Panel considered the issue. It helps build understanding of the process and allows the wider community to appreciate the time and effort put into the process by Community Panel members.

Anybody in the community could nominate to observe the panel and everyone who nominated was accommodated.

The Panel had sessions that were open and others that were closed, much like a legal jury process. Observers attended during the open sessions and were asked to leave for closed sessions.

You can read more in the Observers' Information Sheet

The Panel was given information reports and heard from a range of speakers about the many issues relating to the Green Wedge.

You can see all the written documents the panel was given in the document library on the right.

You can also see the speaker presentations:

The Community Panel presented its recommendations report at the end of Panel Day 6 on 17 November 218. The panel articulated its vision for the report to be “living with the landscape to enhance the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the Shire.”

The group identified principles that inspired and permeated their recommendations including connectedness, embracing change and social equity.

The Community Panel made recommendations on the following issues that they considered to be critical, after reaching consensus of 80 per cent or above:

  • Bushfire Preparedness, Mitigation and Management
  • Governance
  • Environment
  • Planning
  • People and Culture
  • Economy

One recommendation that did not achieve 80 per cent consensus has been included by the Panel as a minority report.

At its Ordinary Meeting on December 18, Council endorsed its response to the Panel's recommendations.

Council’s response to each recommendation fell within the following categories:

  • Support: These will appear in the draft GWMP.
  • Support-in-principle: The essential direction of the recommendation was supported but certain detail aspects cannot be committed to at this time. The essential direction will appear in the draft GWMP.
  • Partially support: Only part of the recommendation was supported. The part that was supported will appear in the draft GWMP.
  • Not support: This recommendation will not appear in the draft GWMP.

Of the 32 recommendations made by the Panel only part of one recommendation was not supported by Council. All the others were either ‘supported’, ‘supported in principle’ or ‘partially supported’.

Council did not support the one minority report recommendation.

Council decided not to consider Minority Report #1 and it was removed from the Panel’s recommendations report.

This decision was made whilst taking into consideration that a Panel process requires recommendations achieve a super-majority of 80% or more support. Minority recommendations can be put up if a recommendation does not achieve 80% support at voting, by any group of panel members. This usually occurs in the short break prior to the presentation of the report, as was the case with Minority Report #2.

As the contents of Minority Report #1 were never put before the Panel for voting, Minority Report #1 cannot be taken to be consistent with the Panel’s recommendation in its preamble that “Minority reports have been prepared and should be given due consideration”.

Panel facilitators MosaicLab have provided a report to Council in regards to minority reports and the GWMP Community Panel.