The local government sector in Australia is adopting participatory budgeting, following its successful use in the US, Europe and Latin America. Darebin City Council voted in favour of undertaking a participatory budget, as an approach to more transparent decision-making, championed by then Mayor, Gaetano Greco.
The process was set up to inform how $2million from a newly created infrastructure fund would be used. Annie Bolitho & Associates put in a successful bid to conduct the project. Annie and Martin de los Rios, a highly experienced community engagement, conflict resolution and facilitation specialist steered the jury through from first meetings to rigorous recommendations.
The jury’s recommendations were innovative, and driven by criteria such as access to community infrastructure by all citizens. They were adopted unanimously by Darebin councillors.
Budgets are a key driver in government decision-making. Enabling citizens to allocate resources and prioritise spending educates citizens about the budget, and provide managers and councillors with insight into diverse citizen perspectives on spending.