participatory budgeting

city of melbourne's 10 year financial plan

Project snapshot

In preparing its first 10-year financial plan, the City of Melbourne decided to seek the advice of its community by way of a 43 member People’s Panel. The panel was a random stratified (to match the demographics of the city) selection of people that was recruited by the newDemocracy Foundation, and included business and residential participants.

City of Melbourne 10 Year Financial Plan

The process

The Panel met over five and a half days and was facilitated by MosiacLab founders Nicole Hunter, Kimbra White and Keith Greaves. It was a full-scale, fully informed deliberative process with Council opening its books to the panel and panel members calling their own experts for presentations.

“I have renewed confidence in collaboration of ideas with a diverse range of people.”
— Participant, People's Panel


The outcome was a set of recommendations to Council that included increasing rates to enable the city to continue to provide the current quality of service delivery, and to be in a position to address the impact of climate change in the city.


The 10 year financial plan project was a substantial deliberative process on a major budgetary topic and is often referred to as a 'participatory budgeting' project.

However, the term participatory budgeting is more usually used for projects where there is a mass voting process on the allocation of public funds.

This type of participatory budgeting is not common in Australia. One example is Melville City Council which allocated its grants program in this manner. Additionally, MosaicLab has worked with the Maldon & District Community Bank to open up its grant making to the community, although this process was focused on identifying one key project for the area (to have more impact) than letting the community vote on allocation.

If you're interested in participatory budgeting, get in touch. MosaicLab would love to help!

VIDEO: City of Melbourne’s People’s Panel

“I was able to speak out for what I believed and to listen to other people who have strengths in different areas.”
— Participant - People's Panel

Decision maker reflections 

The video below features excerpts of an interview with Stephen Mayne, Former Councillor and Chair, Finance and Governance Committee, City of Melbourne (along with insights provided by decision makers who have been involved in other projects).  

“Many recommendations were the result of robust debate and a democratic vote, deciding what we would include in our report. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, believed it resulted in good recommendations and hope that this process is adopted by other organisations.”
— Participant - People's Panel


Explore this project further over on our blog.