Monash University
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Reclaiming the commons: participatory democracy and revitalising citizens’ role in the management of community halls

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-06-02, 01:18 authored by Mackenzie, Wendy
South American practices of participatory democracy have much to offer local government in NSW in re-invigorating community civic involvement in the management of community spaces. Barriers created by a restriction of representation and loss of democratic dialogue within a neo-liberal marketplace environment have constricted opportunities for local community democratic planning and management. The demands placed by new manageralism in one local government area in NSW with regards to the management of local community halls has resulted in loss of social capital and the disempowerment of local citizens. This article discusses proposals to educate for the revitalisation of local democratic conversation and citizen planning, and the adjustment of local government legislation to include participatory democratic processes, and it explores the possibility of participatory budgeting by the community through the current community halls management committees. The role of community development workers is to facilitate this process through supporting a changed paradigm which privileges the democratic over the market, the citizen over the consumer and validates the lived experience of community members in researching, identifying and managing issues which effect their lives.


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