Ovens & Murray Advertiser

True council engagement lacking

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IT was with excitement that we read about the community being invited to have a say in what they would like prioritise­d in the Indigo Shire Council (ISC) Draft 2022-2023 Budget - re John Harvey’s enlighteni­ng Letter to Editor on 4 February.

We were finally going to have an opportunit­y to input into something as important as the annual budget.

However, this Pre Budget Survey was only available to those who have IT access otherwise you had to go into a council service centre and sit down with a staffer who would help you complete the survey online.

I accidental­ly saw a council-produced poster promoting the survey although I did note that no closing date was mentioned and the website link did not connect directly to the survey form.

Furthermor­e, the online survey would only accept one email address meaning if there were more people from the same household they couldn’t express their opinions.

So much for the council being a signatory of the WHO Age-Friendly Communitie­s program with its inclusive approach for all people.

This is meant to enable genuine participat­ion in community consultati­on and decision making.

Poor seniors and people with disabiliti­es miss out again.

Council no longer has an ISC ad on page 2 of the Ovens & Murray Advertiser.

The Yackandand­ah community newsletter had a survey ad.

How do people access informatio­n with this disparity going on?

Ratepayers have seen lots of council resources and time spent on producing an array of feel-good, flowery policies but when it comes to the crunch these policies are in many instances ignored.

There has been a good response from residents who completed the survey, but it’s concerning that their input won’t be made public until the council meeting on May 17 when the council’s draft budget agenda paper is announced.

The community must wonder why bother especially if the contents of their input aren’t substantia­ted and could be ignored like last year’s budget submission­s.

Come on council, please don’t undermine this opportunit­y to involve the community in this process and let’s hope the replacemen­t councillor, to be announced shortly, builds on this new, open and active approach to supporting Indigo residents.

Christine Stewart, Beechworth

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