What is Occupy Melbourne?
Occupy Melbourne is a leaderless social movement represented by people of various cultures, religions, genders, ethnicities, abilities and political beliefs. The one thing we all have in common is that we will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the society in which we live. We are using the innovative strategy of occupation to achieve our ends of creating a more just, participatory democracy system and greater accountability and equality in our corporate system. We strongly advocate for and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants. This movement empowers people to create real change from a grass roots, bottom up perspective.
What are direct/participatory democracies?
Direct Democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a Representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Participatory Democracy is a form of Direct democracy, where decisions are made directly by the people. It stands in contrast to the far more prevalent Representative democracy, where political decisions are made not by the people themselves but by elected representatives. Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a population to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Occupy Melbourne strongly believes that ordinary Australians have lost their voice in our current political system, with our politicians representing the interests of corporations rather than representing the needs of the individual.
What is a Working Group?
Occupy Melbourne has numerous Working Groups, which are made up of people from the movement engaging in dialogue on issues which they are passionate about. Any individual or collective of people can establish such a group without seeking permission from the General Assembly. Some existing Working Groups include Education, Media, Kitchen, Feminist, First Aid and Care.
What is a General Assembly?
It is a participatory decision-making body which works towards consensus. It must be pacific and respecting of all opinions. The Assembly encourages dialogue and getting to know one another. At Occupy Melbourne, proposals made may result in the following: hearing speakers for and against, conducting a straw poll to test for support and amending a proposal, for example. Occupy Melbourne uses the People’s Assembly as our decision making forum. These assemblies are currently held twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday afternoons).
What is Consensus?
This is the way that the assemblies make a final decision over each specific proposal. Consensus is reached when there is no outright opposition in the assembly against the proposal. Although the Assembly would hope for and encourage 100% support for a proposal, an ideological proposal may be passed with a 90% majority.
Sample of General Assembly proceedings
- Welcome and acknowledgement of Indigenous owners of the land where sovereignty has never been ceded.
- Explanation of hand signals used during General Assembly
- Explanation and presentation of each member of the Facilitation team, including moderator, co moderator, coordinator and participants.
- Reading the Agenda out loud and asking for support to proceed with proposed Agenda
- Short (2 minute) Working Group report backs. No proposals made at this stage.
- Working Group proposals. If a consensus is not reached, the floor is opened to debate.
- Individual proposals, to be made by anyone at the General Assembly.
- Announcements of any actions, meetings, rallies etc.