First Voices of Victoria conference was a success!

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
[email protected]

Community-endorsed independent in federal seat of Flinders set to be a reality

Press Release

29 October 2021

Download a copy of the Press Release here



Helen Haines on the need for a federal anti-corruption commission

In this podcast, Dr Helen Haines, Independent MP for Indi, discusses integrity in parliament with journalist Katharine Murphy, in light of her recent reintroduction of her Federal integrity commission bill to the lower house. Her bill - that the Centre of Public Integrity identified as best practice - is critical and vital for our democracy. Haines is deeply concerned about integrity, especially in relation to Christian Porter’s “blind trust” issue not being referred to the Privileges Committee.

Haines touches on the increasing number of 'Voices of' groups around the country - inspired by the Indi electorate. It’s no surprise to her that there is a growing number of groups. Nor that climate and integrity are top issues 'Voices of' groups are finding when doing Kitchen Table Conversations. These issues resonate right around the nation because they affect every person.

Haines highlights that people do not want representatives who are shackled to a party and view. People want someone who can vote to their conscience and to the conscience of the people in their electorate.

Haines encourages 'Voices of' groups to not be negative about the sitting member - but talk positively about what good looks like and focus on what they’d like to see. That’s what worked for Indi.

Haines also covers political donations; integrity, accountability and transparency in politics; climate policy (or lack there of); renewable energy opportunities; the importance of independents in parliament and more.

Well worth a listen.


Access the podcast episode here

(35 mins)

Cathy McGowan in conversation with Kerryn Phelps and Van Badham

Glee Books Author talks:

Cathy chats about her book - Cathy goes to Canberra

Cathy McGowan discusses her political career and the benefits of 'doing politics differently' with Van Badham and Kerryn Phelps.

Length: 55 mins

Listen to the conversation here

Our democracy is decaying from within

Pearls and Irritations - Sep 16, 2021

By John Menadue - Estimated reading time 9 mins.

We need a summit of community leaders to help chart democratic renewal.

Bob Hawke’s economic summit following the 1983 election promoted cooperation and consensus which led to remarkable economic and social reform. It could be a useful model to promote democratic renewal.

With the loss of trust in our political institutions and politicians today, we need a political summit to build consensus on democratic reform and the restoration of trust. Such a proposal, if carefully explained and implemented, could produce real political and policy dividends for its advocates and more importantly, for Australia.

parliament house canberra politics night


Read full article here

The man who walked into Parliament with a lump of coal

Another podcast in the continuing #transitzone side-bar series on grassroots democracy in Australia and the emerging and evolving "Voices for" independents movements gearing up for the looming federal election.

Margo Kingston and Peter Clarke in conversation with Zali Steggall, the federal independent member for Warringah in Sydney, a "safe" Liberal seat until Steggall ousted the incumbent and former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, at the 2019 federal election via a vigorous community-based campaign focussed primarily on climate change.

In Parliament, Steggall (described by some as a fiscal conservative and social progressive) has pursued climate change and truth in political advertising by drafting and presenting her own private member's bills, the same way Steggall's fellow cross-bencher, the independent member for Indi In Victoria, Helen Haines (an earlier #transitzone guest), has done around her proposed Australian Federal Integrity Commission. 

Listen here

Zali Steggall's personal website:

The impact of independents on Australian democracy

ABC Radio National

By Geraldine Doogue on Saturday extra

Once pioneering suffragettes like Vida Goldstein, independents have a long history of challenging the political status quo in Australia. As trust in government wanes and the major parties remain stagnant on issues at the forefront of the national psyche, will there be a bigger push towards politicians promising voters something different, and can independents actually deliver on these promises?


Carolyn Hendriks, Professor of Public Policy and Governance at Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University.

Jennifer Curtin, Professor of Politics and Director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland whose research focuses on Australian and New Zealand electoral politics, trans-Tasman policy innovations, sport, and gender, policy and political leadership.

Duration: 12min 40sec

Listen here

Strong Female Lead

VMP highly recommends watching Strong Female Lead.

“A new generation is interrogating how we have traditionally done politics and leadership in our nation; and they are demanding profound change and a future of gender equality.” ~ Julia Gillard in response to the SBS documentary Strong Female Lead.

The documentary is an exploration of the gender politics during Julia Gillard's term as Australia's first female prime minister, including the response and tone from media commentators, the Australian public, and within parliament itself.


You can view the trailer here.


The Sustainable Hour interview with Zali Steggall

Zali Steggall, Independent Member for Warringah, is interviewed in this informative podcast where she talks about the value of independents and the growing Voices of movement around Australia.

Independents bring scrutiny and diversity into parliament and force the major parties to collaborate and consult to develop better policies and legislation. They play an important role in holding government to account and are directly answerable to their electorate.

Independents also raise the capability and integrity in parliament. Zali encourages communities to work together to find their best candidate and unite behind them.

Listen to the episode here

How Independents Make a Difference

Do you wonder how an independent candidate can make a difference to an electorate?

Are you curious about how electing an Independent can, in a practical sense, improve life for the communities they serve?

Our friends, Voices of Goldstein, held an online event last week to answer these very questions. The profound positive impact on small business owners and other residents by independent representation is clearly articulated and discussed in this informative forum.

Cathy McGowan AO - former independent member for Indi, and constituents of Indi and Warringah discuss the significant improvements that independent representation has had in their electorates in this inspiring panel discussion: