Local, Independant and Effective

Community to Canberra - A case study in community action

Posted September 19, 2018


Connecting Community to Canberra represents a case study in community action. It highlights some of the ways that people from right across Indi have engaged with Canberra and with our Federal political processes. The report is available at cathymcgowan.com.au/reports

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (19:40): As an Independent member of parliament, it's my privilege to represent the interests of everybody in my electorate, regardless of politics or background, and results are made possible by communities across north-east Victoria coming together to act. Connecting Community to Canberra represents a case study in community action, and a flyer has been produced by my office. It highlights some of the ways that people from right across this marvellous electorate of Indi have engaged with Canberra and parliament and our federal political processes. It's one of three case studies being produced by my office, and I have to say that, in the nine months of this year, over 20,000 individual constituents have made contact with my office. Out of an electorate of 100,000 people, that clearly shows their strong engagement. Many of these constituents have asked me to take action, make representations, get the government to do something, discuss ideas or solutions, ask for actions or respond to government inquiries. And many requests ask that I take action to, and in, parliament, and I do. And I've been absolutely delighted to also invite my community to come to parliament to learn how the system works, to advocate and lobby, to get to know our House and, in the process, to better understand our democracy.

This case study that I'm launching tonight is available from my offices in Wangaratta and Wodonga and is also available online. It shows that over 200 volunteers have taken part in my Canberra Back of House program, with up to four Indi constituents coming and learning about volunteering every week that we're sitting. Tonight, I'd like to acknowledge Pauline, Annie and Candi; Donald and Jacqueline, who are also part of the Australian National Internships Program, and Dan, who is part of the ADF Parliamentary Program. They are examples of the volunteers in our office. Over 13 advocacy groups have been supported at Parliament House to press their issues to decision-makers. Over 100 schools and over 4,000 students have come to Parliament House to see how parliament works, and I acknowledge the work of the Parliamentary Education Office and the terrific job they do. But Connecting Community to Canberra works in more than one direction. Communities come up here, learn how parliament works and then invite ministers to come to Indi, and I've been delighted and grateful to the eight ministers who, at the invitation of my community, have come to participate and learn about issues on the ground.

I've also been delighted that 13 young people's events have been held so that I can gather young people's ideas, bring them to Canberra and invite the young people to come to Canberra themselves and press their points. Many constituents say: 'How can I be involved? What can I do?' I'm delighted to say that, on the back of this flyer, there are explicit directions on what you can do if you'd like to be more keenly involved, and there are links. First, inform yourself about your issue. Then, write a letter. It's always important to put it in writing. Perhaps you might want to put together a petition. Perhaps you might want to come to my office and meet some of my staff and, always, you're invited to come to parliament and volunteer. My communities are ready and eager to engage with Canberra, with parliament, and they're ready and eager to participate in the political process and develop their own solutions to the issues that they face. This case study represents what I call 'the Indi way'—how we get things done in Indi and how we engage with politics positively to create effective, exciting and vibrant communities that are full of opportunities. And I welcome new residents to Indi with a copy of this case study and invite them all to participate in 'the Indi way'.

In closing, I particularly thank all those community members who have made their way up the Hume Highway. They have given me four days of their time and, in the process, have taken back to my community and to their networks a great passion and love for our wonderful democracy.

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