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Citizens Jury to help determine water services and pricing

We need to find a balance between price and service which is fair for everyone

31 March 2017

A Citizen’s Jury will assist Yarra Valley Water to shape future services and prices from 2018 to 2023. Every five years the Essential Services Commission conducts a Water Price Review with all Victorian water utilities. Yarra Valley Water will make a submission to the Commission which will describe the services and outcomes that its customers expect.

David Snadden, Yarra Valley Water General Manager Strategy and Communications said:

“We want to hear our customers’ feedback and thoughts on our services, priorities and prices. We have partnered with newDemocracy Foundation and MosaicLab and from May this year, our Citizen’s Jury will come together to consider how we address the opportunities and challenges we face in delivering high quality water and sanitation services".

“30,000 invitations to participate have been sent to randomly selected people who live and work in our service area. Our Citizens’ Jury will comprise a group of about 35 customers who will be selected through an independent process to ensure that they represent the community,” Mr Snadden said.

Iain Walker, newDemocracy Foundation Executive Director said: “A Citizens’ Jury is the best way to share the decision with the local community when it comes to important decisions. These projects are critical as we learn how to get beyond public opinion in favour of informed public judgment. Much like a jury in a court case, we want people to weigh all the evidence and find common ground rather than having organisations influenced by quick survey responses. There’s no point asking people what they think if you’re not going to give them time to think – and that’s what this process gives to Yarra Valley Water customers.”

Nicole Hunter, MosaicLab Co-Founder said: “Over five Saturdays in May through to July this year, the Jury will deliberate on our key question, ‘We need to find a balance between price and service which is fair for everyone. How should we do this?’.

“The Jury will consider detailed evidence based submissions about the challenges Yarra Valley Water face to deliver high quality water and sanitation services. They will be provided a handbook and will be able to call on experts which will provide them insight into the organisation’s operating setting, challenges and potential 
impacts of any changes. Building on their collective understanding the jury will be supported to explore their broad thinking and focus on the priority trade offs to include in their final report. At the end of the deliberations, the Jury will provide its recommendations to Yarra Valley Water which will help the organisation
to finalise its price submission to the Commission,” Ms Hunter added.

Yarra Valley Water’s dedicated Water Price Review Forum has been online since November 2016. There you are able to join the conversation and provide your own feedback on what you value. Members of the public are also welcome to make submissions to the Jury for their consideration. To find out more visit
www.yvw.com.au/futureprices