Report

Community-level governance

16 Jul 2014
Description

Community-level governance is a focus in much of the public sector reform occurring in the world at the moment. Interest in this topic stems from two major sources. The first is the desire to strengthen citizen engagement in local government, while the second is the need to stimulate greater interest in local democracy, especially electoral participation.

LGNZ was pleased to be invited to work with the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel and the Local Government Association of South Australia on this joint research initiative and hope it will be a forerunner of future cross-Tasman collaborations. We were also very pleased to work with MDL which undertook the research on behalf on the project partners.

Preface

Community-level governance is a focus in much of the public sector reform occurring in the world at the moment. Interest in this topic stems from two major sources. The first is the desire to strengthen citizen engagement in local government, while the second is the need to stimulate greater interest in local democracy, especially electoral participation.

Most developed nations are facing declining voter turnout at both the local and national level, a trend that has been occurring for more than two decades. Some commentators explain this trend as a result of declining interest in traditional political processes and suggest that the solution requires a ‘deepening of democracy’ by decentralising decision-making and engaging more closely with citizens - in other words by investing in community-level governance.

Community engagement can also increases accountability and help ensure that services are delivered efficiently and effectively and meet the needs of the communities they are designed to serve. It can also increase opportunities for voluntary effort and enhance social capital and community trust.

These sentiments are reflected in LGNZ’s public commitment to localism, which seeks a more meaningful role for councils in the governance of their regions, districts and cities. To achieve localism it is important to understand the international experience of community-level governance and be able to assess the success or otherwise of the different models in operation.

LGNZ’s support for this research paper, undertaken jointly with local government organisations in Australia, falls under our overall policy priority “strengthening local democracy and the value of local government”. Achieving a strong local democracy and strengthening the value proposition of local government cannot happen without good engagement between councils and their citizens.

Publication Details
Published year only: 
2014
114
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