Why have a Community Panel?

We are well into Stage 2 of the Hepburn Together project. The Hepburn Together project will shape the vision and direction for the Shire over the next 10 years. Over the past few weeks, we have been busy gathering ideas, feedback and input from the community to develop the 10-year Community Vision, 4 year Council Plan, Finance and Asset Plans. These plans will guide the way in which Council plans and delivers services that will affect every person who lives, visits, plays or works in the Hepburn Shire.

We have randomly selected 40 community members to join a Community Panel that will come together to participate in deliberative engagement. Deliberative engagement involves recruiting a representative sample of our community – people of different ages, genders, cultures, education, industry of occupation, employment, location of residence – and giving Panel members an opportunity to consider an issue in detail and work together to develop solutions. Selection for the Panel was based on these factors.

During our recent engagement with the community, resulting in the Community Engagement Policy, we heard loud and clear that the community wanted recruitment for panels like this to be a mix of random invitation and self-selection.

The panel

Below is the list of Hepburn Together Community Panel members. Please note some members have requested their name not be publicly available.

Andrew McBainEmma LaanPaul Williams
Annelise (Mara) MacsEric KellyPeter McAndrew
Ashley SheldrickGary MartynPeter Rice
Barbara Curzon-SiggersJaneene PaynePhyl Conolly
Barbara FennerJesse ClowesRob Curtin
Bruce KronbergerJillian LukeRobert Hewson
Carolyn MeehanKathleen BurgumShelley Bowen
Christine HeazlewoodKaye PowellTaryn Lane
Claud SmithardKim JohnsonTasha Robinson
Craig BarrettKim McQueenTraianon Theodoropoulos
Danny KinnearLachlan TaylorYemaya Greenwood
Darren PoinenMaya Carroll-Tischler

A summary of the demographics of panel members are as follows:


0-19 years old 6
20-39 years old 5
40-59 years old 13
60-79 years old 15
80+ years old 1


Birch 9
Cameron 6
Coliban 5
Creswick 13
Ratepayer outside Shire1
Work or participate in Shire1



Participation in the Hepburn Together Community Panel will be a combination of both in-person and online sessions. The key dates are:

  • 15 April - 10am to 4pm, in person session (location to be confirmed)
  • 19 and 21 April - two-hour sessions, 5:30pm to 7:30pm, online sessions.

Selection of the Community Panel

Our newly adopted Community Engagement policy states with regard to Deliberative Engagement: “Representative: Participants in deliberative engagement will be representative of the population of the Council area to the maximum extent possible.”

The Discussion Paper Council released on Community Engagement also spoke about deliberative engagement similarly: “Representative: It is important that participants in deliberative engagement is representative of the population of the Council area. This allows for a broad range of views to be taken into account and the needs of the whole population are considered when making recommendations.”

In keeping with these statements and the best practice principles of deliberative engagement the Hepburn Together Community panel is, to the best of our ability, a true reflection of the Shire’s population. Participants are a mix of targeted random recruitment (letter, text, email) and self-nominated applicants. This was very clearly the preference of the community in our engagement in Phase One of the project. Participants were randomly selected on the basis of demographic markers only and at random (see graphic below).

The process to select Panel members:

  • 750 letters were sent at random to people from the owner/occupier rates base. Additionally, thousands of texts and emails were sent to residents in an effort to reach as many people as possible.
  • All 193 applications were entered into a master spreadsheet
  • All applications were then be de-identified (names, emails, addresses and phone numbers, personal comments removed).
  • Data was sorted by age group and then by ward to ensure distribution across the two key demographic markers. Once sorted the data was randomised so that they were no longer in the order that they were received.
  • The de-identified data set was shortlisted down to 80 potential participants. Selection was based on age groups firstly, then ward and key demographic markers to ensure diversity (parents, English as a second language, LGBTQIA+, people with a disability etc).
  • This data set was then reviewed by two independent Council Officers who had not reviewed the spreadsheet or applications previously. From this 40 participants were selected at random.

The benefits of random selection are:

  • Randomised selection gets beyond the usual voices encouraging a diversity of views that are more likely to be trusted or accepted by the broader community, enabling Council to hear what our residents really think. We often only hear from the articulate, passionate and disaffected – those we generally have lower representation from in broader engagement. We can be more confident that we will have a Community Vision and Council Plan that will reflect community sentiment.
  • Best practice method used by organisations practising deliberative engagement.

Click on the images below: