Getting elected to represent your community – a workshop

Have you thought about running for Council or Parliament?

Or is there someone you know who’s interested in doing so, and you’re wondering how you can support them? We’re running… A workshop that is! Voices for Indi invites you and your support team to participate in a practical workshop designed to provide prospective candidates with enhanced skills and knowledge to get elected. The workshop will focus on how our political system works, strategies for campaigning, managing expectations and connecting with your community.

Join us in Wodonga for a weekend fiesta of politics. Hear from politicians, academics, staffers, community leaders and experienced campaigners – they’ll share their advice and ideas for emerging political leaders.

Your two-day ticket includes entry to A Conversation Gabrielle Chan. V4I’s Alana Johnson will interview Gabrielle who is the Guardian Australia chief political correspondent.

Of course, you’re welcome to just attend the Saturday evening event. Gabrielle and Alana will be talking politics and rural Australia, and perhaps we’ll get a sneak peek of Gabrielle’s book, Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up to be released in September 2018 by Penguin Random House.

Download the program
Book your seat

We look forward to seeing you there!

Denis Ginnivan reelected as V4I’s President at 2017 AGM

“There is much to be disappointed about in politics if we were to be spectators” – Denis Ginnivan, President V4I

Voices for Indi 5th Annual General Meeting

President’s Report. Wangaratta, 27 November 2017

Voices for Indi (V4I) is a community engagement process which is revitalizing and building ‘democratic capital’ in regional Australia. V4I was set up to provide a simple and effective process by which all people across the Indi electorate, regardless of political affiliation, can have a voice – where their interests, concerns and ideas are heard and respected. The participatory process allows constructive input, focusing on ideas, policies, and strengthening representation. It enables people to articulate their shared vision for Indi, to learn and to connect with each other and importantly, build alliances for action.

There is much to be disappointed about in politics if we were to be spectators. But there is much to be optimistic about if we are to be participants. Voices for Indi is a way of thinking about and participating in politics. It comes with values – diversity of voices, active invitation to participation, mature representation, our community is heard, honesty and respect, and transparency. We encourage everyone’s respectful participation in democracy and in shaping our future. And those on the committee have no party-political allegiance.

This is my first President’s report. I wish to briefly ‘snapshot’ some of the many activities and achievements which reflect our V4i mission during the year.

Our 2016 AGM guest speaker was ANU Professor Carolyn Hendricks. Professor Hendricks subsequently wrote a paper about democracy in Indi in the Australian Journal of Political Science; ‘When representative Democracy turns participatory: Indi and Beyond’. Her academic paper is valuable as she gives a detailed objective analysis and discussion about our work.

Late last year V4I made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters following the 2016 Federal election. We made arguments for full disclosure of campaign funding, and for addressing breaches of voter privacy, particularly relating to our young people.

In early 2017 V4I undertook a redevelopment of the Kitchen Table Conversation kit. In February, V4I presented to the Australian Rural Leadership Program workshop held at Oxley.

In May V4I committee members attended as guests of the Communities in Control conference; a conference for community and human services within the not-for-profit sector. We were thrilled that two participants of the 2017 Indi Youth Politics Camp were also able to contribute to the conference.

In June, V4I gave input to the Doing Democracy Differently workshop hosted by the International Association for Public Participation, (IAP2) presented by Dr Brett Henning; co-founder of the Sortition Foundation. Dr Henning’s new book ‘The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy’ has been very instructive for discussion around where a politician’s role interfaces with what a citizen’s responsibility is in a democracy. This IAP2 event also focused on developing ways for engaging citizens in decision-making and public participation.

V4I reps attend the Dungala Kaielea Oration at Shepparton by Professor Marcia Langton, where Professor Langton discussed indicators for indigenous social and economic progress.

In July V4I had representation and input to the Victorian Regional Partnerships Assembly, held in Wodonga. V4I also made an important presentation to the National Rural Social Workers Conference in Albury.

In mid 2017 V4I was approached to contribute memorabilia to the Museum of Australian Democracy, given the Museum’s role in recent years promoting and positively influencing engagement in democracy. Whilst sharing our collection with the Museum was an honor, it is important to clarify that we were not to be put in the dinosaur and fossil section!! Because we have much more to do!

In August, some members attended the Accountability and the Law Conference at Parliament House, Canberra. Here the Case for a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption was strongly made, and this imperative reflects views of many in Indi expressed at V4I sponsored meetings and consultations.

In September V4I hosted, and made presentation at regional workshop for the International Association of Programs for agricultural Leaders held at Winton Wetlands. It was fabulous to share our stories and experiences with agricultural leaders, in this case, mainly from the United States.

Earlier in November V4I made an in-person submission to the Federal Inquiry into Regional Development and Decentralisation. We are very proud of the young Indi people who participated so competently in the hearing. This enquiry was strongly advocated and championed by Cathy McGowan, Federal Member for Indi. In our submission, we focused on key themes and on the importance of respectful consultation with rural communities. Our submission in on the Inquiry’s website. We hope to have further input on this Inquiry when the draft paper is circulated for further discussion.

Along the way, we made numerous presentations to community groups in various parts of Australia, seeking to improve their democratic representation. These occurred in Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne. We are also engaged with the Australian Rural Leadership Program, The Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program, and Indi Youth Politics forums. V4I also presented to Monash medical students and to La Trobe Alumni.

V4I has maintained a website and social media presence, and encouraged Indi residents to avail themselves of the opportunity to spend a week in Parliament House, Canberra, in the office of the Federal Member for Indi. In 2018 V4I will continue with encouraging the active participation of our Indi citizens in the consultation and representative process.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with such an energetic creative and selfless voluntary group called the Voices for Indi committee. Our job is to hold the V4I vision and mission, and to encourage and support people, young and old to participate in this gift we have as a nation – Democracy. Behind every one of our events and processes there is an extraordinary amount of discussion, planning and detail which is required of our committee. I particularly want to acknowledge and thank Anne Shaw, our V4I Secretary for her diligence, energy and commitment – not to mention her patience with me!

But there is more to do. We want to continue our work: bringing key speakers to the region; participate in opportunities for rural input to political processes; develop a training event for aspiring candidates who seek election in all levels of government representation. Real competition at elections is essentially for a healthy democracy. Our V4I processes are working!

V4I is an entity much larger than just this small committee. The V4I movement is reflected in all those people who see politics as important, who want to be involved, who want to show their children that things can be better, and who want to have a voice in Indi.

It’s been an honor to serve in the President role over the past 12 months. Thank you for the opportunity!

Denis Ginnivan, President

Inquiry into regional development and decentralisation

Independent MP Cathy McGowan has succeeded in gaining government support to conduct an inquiry into decentralisation. The inquiry is investigating and reporting on best practice approaches to regional development, examining decentralisation of Commonwealth entities as a mechanism to increase growth and prosperity in regional areas, and is looking at ways to encourage greater corporate decentralisation.

You can read the V4I submission here and learn more about the inquiry here.

Join us to discuss the Indi Effect

When representative democracy turns participatory : Indi and beyond

Headlining IndiTalks next month is Associate Professor Carolyn Hendriks from the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy. Join us at 10am on Sunday, 20 November 2016 at The Centre, Wangaratta.

We’re pleased to welcome Associate Professor Carolyn Hendriks from the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy as our guest speaker. An expert of citizen engagement in public policy and the practice and theory of deliberative democracy, Carolyn has followed the Voices for Indi story closely.

Carolyn sees value in the movement Voices for Indi has created.

“Since 2013 I have been watching Indi’s democratic experience evolve and as someone passionate about public participation I think there is something very exciting going on, particularly the way a grassroots movement has been able to reengage local people in federal politics.”

“This is a story that exemplifies much of what I have been trying to argue in my recent research; that current thinking on how to engage the public in politics needs to expand beyond neatly designed consultative forums, to thinking about how to reengage people in the entire democratic process, from community building through to parliamentary democracy,” Carolyn said.

“Other themes I am currently working on include: linking participatory and representative democracy (e.g. the participatory work of parliamentary committees); the role of leaders in facilitating and championing public participation, and how social media in reshaping how local politics.”


Feedback will also be presented from the survey of Team Orange volunteers, a summary review of the 2016 campaign and discussion of what’s next for V4i.

Join us and hear Carolyn’s take on When representative democracy turns participatory on Sunday, 20 November 2016 at The Centre, Wangaratta. A $10 donation per person would be appreciated.
 View some of Carolyn’s Indi research here.

V4I’s take on it’s role this Federal election

Voices for Indi congratulates Cathy McGowan for seeking a second term at the next Federal election. V4I endorsed Cathy as an independent candidate for the 2013 election and continues to support her because she remains committed to honest, respectful and constructive politics based on inclusion, valuing all voices and true representation of her constituents.

Let’s change the rules to make polling day a more positive experience

Polling day’s an opportunity to celebrate democracy and reconnect the public with politics, so voting should be a positive experience that encourages us to reflect on our ability to have a say about how we’re represented. Based on feedback from supporters, Voices for Indi has made some suggestions to the Federal Parliament.

Click here to read our submission and see the photos we submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into campaigning activities at polling places.


We’re hopeful changes can be made to the rules so that polling day becomes a more positive experience for voters and voting’s something we all look forward to.

When it comes to election campaigns, we think there should be a limit on the amount of advertising signage each candidate is allowed at polling stations. Think back to the last election, in Wodonga we saw whole school fronts swathed in ugly plastic wrap, including schools that weren’t polling places. Hundreds and hundreds of metres of fence line was emblazoned with emotive phrases like, ‘With so much chaos don’t risk your vote on an independent’ and ‘Don’t risk it’.

It was impossible to enter polling booths without passing repeated material potentially intimidating voters and possibly misleading them about the validity of their vote if they risked it by voting for an independent. Hundreds of metres of fences on both sides of the road screamed out that negative messaging. It’s not on.

What was particularly disappointing about this campaigning was the lack of ownership and transparency. Not one of the army of coreflutes, and not one of the pamphlets warning voters against supporting an independent, bore a party logo or a party name, not even in the teeny-tiny print of the authorisation messages. The Liberal Party must’ve known their negative campaign was a bad look – if they were proud of their slogans, wouldn’t they have identified themselves as the authors?

We also saw bucket loads of negative flyers, misleadingly coloured in the same orange as the Cathy McGowan AO campaign flyers, but warning voters against the very candidate whose brand the flyers played upon. These too lacked the Liberal Party logo and nowhere, not even in the five-point fine print, were the words ‘Liberal Party’ or the name of their candidate. The public ought to be able to easily identify those candidates and parties who choose to go negative and monopolise polling booths with intimidating signage and campaign material.

Election material produced by political parties should have to include a reasonable sized copy of that party’s logo and the authorisation, which is an Australian Electoral Commission requirement, should either include the name of the party of which the person authorising the material is a member or the name of the candidate on whose behalf it is being distributed.

The photos provided to the inquiry show Indi’s polling booths were anything but welcoming to voters at the last Federal Election.

We’re hopeful that the Parliament’s inquiry will result in improvements to the current rules regarding campaign activities near polling places, especially those at schools, so the next Federal Election is a less intimidating and less misleading experience for the voters in Indi.

Tammy Atkins

An Indishares for the next Federal election

It seems the closer we get to the next Federal election, the more interest Voices for Indi’s receiving from prospective candidates and community leaders looking to learn how V4I began and how it undertook its 2013 Federal election campaign. In response, we’re preparing another IndiShares forum. This will be held at the Oxley Hall in Northeast Victoria later this year.

Key people from Cathy McGowan’s 2013 campaign team and Voices for Indi and will be there to share and discuss all aspects of building participatory democracy and how to conduct an innovative and successful election campaign.

Register your interest HERE and we’ll email you further information once everything is finalised.

Please note that there will be a cost to attend.


For media comment:

  • Alana Johnson, V4I President – 0427 624 214
  • Denis Ginnivan, V4I Vice-president – 0412 503 498
  • or Tammy Atkins, IndiShares coordinator – 0419 751 651

V4I’s role in the next Federal election

Voices for Indi congratulates Cathy McGowan on the announcement she will seek re-election as the Member for Indi. Voices for Indi exists to build an active 21st century democracy in Indi and will be involved in the next election and every election for the long term.

Voices for Indi was formed to give voice to the people of Indi. It was during the 2013 process of Kitchen Table Conversations culminating in the V4I report that revealed interest in an independent candidate who would be aligned with the values people sought in their representative and the issues of importance expressed by the people. V4I was the catalyst for Cathy McGowan’s campaign but the campaign was conducted by a far broader and bigger group of people than V4I.

A new round of Kitchen Table Conversations for Indi

3KTC_pic.jpgAnother round of Kitchen Table Conversations is about to happen in Indi, this time initiated and organized by our local member Cathy McGowan AO.

Kitchen Table Conversations provided the power behind Voices for Indi and Cathy’s election campaign in 2013 and the process has since captured the nation’s attention.

MPs, electoral candidates and communities across Australia are now utilizing the Kitchen Table Conversation process as an effective, inclusive and enjoyable way for people in their electorates to have their voice heard.

Please consider Hosting a ‘Kitchen Table Conversation’ which involves getting together 10 people (friends, family, work colleagues, sports mates, neighbours, community groups) at any venue that suits you (at home, outdoors, local gathering place, at work, at a pub, playgroup) to discuss the questions outlined in the KTC kit. Those who participated in the first round of KTC can attest to it being an enjoyable and satisfying activity to be engaged in.

Cathy will be conducting briefings across Indi to outline the process and answer questions. For details see