The Commission has a charter to consult with the community and advise the Attorney-General on how to improve and update Victorian laws under review.
What is a consultation meeting?
Consultation meetings are undertaken by the Commission to help us understand different views and experiences of the law by talking and listening to people. This information, along with written submissions and research, is used to write reports and develop recommendations.
A consultation meeting may be held with an individual, a number of people from one organisation or larger groups. For a group consultation, we usually invite people who have similar interests or who have raised similar issues about an issue the Commission is considering.
What happens at a consultation meeting?
At the meeting participants will have an opportunity to discuss issues and expand on issues that they may have previously raised in a written submission. We will provide some material in advance, including a list of questions to discuss.
We often give a brief presentation on the issues we would like to cover before opening the floor to discussion.
Meetings are not highly structured and discussion is often wide-ranging.
The meeting convenor, who may be the Commission Chair, CEO or a Team Leader, will start the meeting by:
- introducing the people attending
- outlining the purpose of the consultation
- explaining that we will be taking notes to help with report writing
- advising that any comments which participants wish to remain confidential should be identified as such during or at the conclusion of the meeting
- advising that any participants who do not wish their name to be included on the list of participants should advise accordingly.
Commission staff take notes at consultation meetings that are used to produce a summary of issues raised at the meeting which we refer to as the consultation record. It is not a comprehensive transcript of proceedings. If confidential matters were discussed or confidential views expressed, those matters will either not be included in the consultation record or will be identified in the record as confidential, in accordance with the wishes of the person who made the comments.
We send a draft copy of the record to participants to check for accuracy. The draft may be sent to individual participants or, for a larger meeting, may be sent to the convenor or organiser of the meeting for further distribution at their discretion.
Comments received will be reviewed by the Commission and the record amended as appropriate. We keep only the final version and send a copy to participants.
How is the consultation record used?
We use consultation records to assist us in writing our reports. We may refer to the views and information from the consultation record in the text of our report. Where we do, we will attribute views expressed by participants as we have identified them in the record.
Participants are asked to decide at the consultation meeting what level of identification they prefer. This information can also be provided to us in response to the draft consultation record when it is distributed.
We identify participant contributions in one of the following ways:
- by name (eg, Dr Kathryn Li)
- by organisation only (eg, Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria)
- using a single general description of the participants (eg, public housing tenant)
- listing the consultation, or specific aspects of it, as confidential with no details of participants.
The Commission is committed to inclusivity and wants to hear from all interested and affected parties, but we cannot reproduce in full the views of every person and group we consult with. In our reports, we attempt to capture and accurately describe the perspectives of those affected. While everything we are told is considered and used to inform our recommendations, it may not be explicitly discussed in our report.
Consultation records are not published
Consultations are intended to explore, develop and exchange ideas through discussion. These objectives are best achieved when participants are able to engage in full and frank discussion. To this end we do not publish the record or provide it to anyone who was not at the meeting.
However, we may be required to provide access to some or all of the record if a member of the public makes a request under Freedom of Information legislation. Any such request will be determined in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), which has provisions designed to protect personal information and information given in confidence. Further information can be found at https://ovic.vic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/
Consultation participants are listed in our report
Although we do not publish consultation records, we are committed to openness and transparency in our processes and therefore seek to provide as much detail as possible in our reports about who we have consulted with.
Our practice is to list the names of participants unless we receive a specific request to provide anonymity. You can make this request at the consultation meeting or when you respond to our letter containing the record of the meeting for checking.
Providing a submission
We encourage consultation participants to make a written submission to the Commission in addition to attending a consultation. You may wish to provide further information about the ideas you raised in consultation or answers to the questions we asked in our consultation paper. You may have a personal story about how the law has affected you that you wish to share.
A submission becomes a formal record that may be referred to by the Commission and published on our website unless you tell us that it is confidential. The due date for submissions is advertised in our consultation paper and on our website.