25 July, 2022. Mount Martha.
This weekend, Voices of Mornington Peninsula (VMP) hosted #VOXCON22 in Mount Martha to which all Voices groups in Victoria were invited.
The event was the brain-child of VMP Director, Kim Robbins, who wondered out loud during the group’s post-election debrief how the other groups around the state were feeling about their experience during the past 6-12 months as well as during the campaign. Representatives from all Voices groups except one attended the conference, with the Mallee team driving 7 hours to join in.
“It’s no secret that VMP has faced some big challenges over the past 6 months or so. We knew we wanted to rebuild but didn’t want to reinvent the wheel to do so.” says Robbins. “It seemed obvious that the best way to avoid that was to talk with other Voices groups.”
The goal of the weekend event was to share experiences, lessons, ideas and inspiration to further build momentum within the groups, now that the ’22 federal election is over. While each group is dealing with a different landscape within their local electorate, everyone had something to learn and to share.
Topics covered included technology, community engagement techniques, and how the political landscape is changing as well as an election panel that included Goldstein, Kooyong and Indi campaign members and Casey independent candidate, Claire Ferres Miles. The group also heard from Byron Fay of Climate 200 and Kos Samaras from Red Bridge Group.
The event’s focus wasn’t just about getting independents elected as a way to improve democracy – enhancing voters’ political literacy and increasing community participation in their representation were also seen as beneficial activities with which Voices groups will maintain their involvement.
“It’s been so valuable having an environment to ask questions…” said Voices of Wannon’s Genevieve Grant of the collaborative environment. “I was so impressed with everyone’s openness and willingness to share. It feels like we’ve now got amazing expertise we can tap into”.
The weekend’s program included time for networking and casual discussions over scones, coffee and dinner. Several delegates had known each other for some time but only online, so spending time together in-person cemented those relationships and created new ones. “I feel like I’m on school camp!” commented one attendee.
The conference was such as success that it won’t be the last. The attendees also decided to remain in close contact with regular online meetings, and look forward to reconnecting at next month’s Community Independents Project online conference.
This is a Movement, not a Moment, and momentum is still building.
Meike Suggars, Voices of Mornington Peninsula