Sydney needs: A vibrant, grassroots democracy

A Grassroots and Democratic City is one where participation is actively encouraged; consultation results in real change; and Council is responsive to all residents, especially renters, international students and those with less resources.

Council should be the heart of strengthening communities and civil society

We want a Council that works in genuine partnership with the community. A Council that devolves power to communities and provides the infrastructure – physical and online spaces, training for residents, staff to answer questions, multi-lingual information, insurance – for communities to come together and everyone to have their say.

The Greens will stand up against the privatisation of public spaces that are so important for us to come together, and public services run for and by our community. Instead, we will expand community controlled spaces and services and support residents when they propose new ways to do things together.

The Greens will promote new ways for residents to share decision making power, through participatory budgeting, supporting cooperatives and First Nations control of spaces and services.

Our priorities
  1. Adopt an ‘inclusive, active outreach’ approach for community engagement which includes increasing the number and capacity of Council staff to undertake consultation directly with diverse groups across the LGA, prioritising opportunities for residents to talk to a ‘real person’, easier access to printed, and translated, printed copies of Council documents.
  2. Expand properly funded, Council-run public services.
  3. Introduce participatory or neighbourhood budgeting (an option currently used in the ACT and elsewhere) to provide residents a genuine say in directing how Council directs its funds, and First Nations control of decision making in Council budget processes.
  4. Reducing red tape to local not for profit groups for hiring Council buildings, particularly small and unincorporated groups.
  5. Work to abolish the undemocratic voting rules which give local businesses double votes in the Local Council elections.

More about our democracy policies

Diversity and inclusion in consultation

Improve consultation processes which people experience as passive, difficult and frustrating. This includes by reduce Council’s reliance on one-way tools as the primary method of community engagement, such as online surveys or web pages.

Adopt a community co-design approach to Council programs. This includes by directly involving people in decision-making via town-hall meetings, committees and project groups at the early stages of development of projects. Residents and volunteer groups should be recognised as experts in their own lives and the issues that affect them, and be encouraged to provide evidence and solutions.

Facilitate development proposals being made accessible locally on public Council noticeboards in the vicinity of the development so people can easily pass by and view them – not just available online as complex long documents.

Significantly expand the translation of Council materials into languages other than English.

Publicly run public services

Ensure that Council services are run by Council, and not outsourced. This includes urgently bringing in-house core Council services which are currently outsourced, like waste management, and taking back Council control of services which are currently under long term contract when those contracts expire.

Ensure that the social, employment and environmental impacts of Council services that have been outsourced are properly accounted for and reported by Council.

Grassroots democracy, accountability and community voice

Introduce participatory or neighbourhood budgeting (an option currently used in the ACT and elsewhere) to provide residents a genuine say in directing how Council directs its funds.

As a priority, work with local First Nations communities and community organisations to implement First Nations decision making in Council budget processes. This could include participatory budgeting and/or direct First Nations control over Council-funding for relevant programs (for more details see the Greens First Nations policy).

Ensure Councillors record and regularly publicly disclose any connections with developers or people directly involved with development, including all meetings, and statutory declarations from the Chairs and experts on any planning-related panels regarding whether they close relative or associate of a property developer or real estate agent.

Create processes for residents and the community to request information, and put direct public questions, to the elected Council.

Explore making Council meetings more accessible including through rotating Council meetings to Town halls in different parts of the LGA.

Explore options for Councillors to be responsible for specific portfolio areas (as has been implemented in Melbourne) or local areas within the city, to make it easier for the community to identify the best elected representative to assist them with their issue.

Community support, not spin

Build Council’s capacity to conduct consultations directly using Council staff i.e. not rely on external consultants. Consultation should facilitate direct access to those Council staff who have decision making power and influence.

Establish protocols to ensure Council publications focus on providing relevant, neutral updates to the community. This includes enforcing rules to prevent Council materials being used to promote individual Councillors or political grouping on the Council. 

Can you help us make Sydney a #CityForEveryone?

Next event

Join Greens for Sydney’s Sylvie Ellsmore at the Lord Mayoral candidate forum organised by Alexandria Residents’ Action Group, Friends of Erskineville and REDWatch, 7pm on Wednesday 10 November.

Candidates will take questions from the moderator and the community. The organisers conducted a survey to select the top three topics for discussion, which will be public housing, climate change and transport.

Event registration is not required. The below button will take you straight to the Zoom meeting room.

Get your questions ready!