Mansfield Shire Council

Co-designing a 20 year vision with community




Deliberative Engagement

The problem

The newly introduced "Local Government Act 2020" requires Victorian Councils to maintain a Community Vision that is developed with its municipal community in accordance with its deliberative engagement practices.

The solution

To co-design a 2040 Community Vision for community, with community, using a bespoke deliberative engagement methodology.

Project updates

The Mansfield Shire Community Vision 2040 was accepted by Mansfield Shire Council on October 20, 2021.

Mansfield Shire

Mansfield Shire is one of Victoria’s smallest Councils (population-wise) yet is diverse in its geography and economy—encompassing snowy peaks, fertile agricultural land, and bustling townships. With 50% of the population non-resident ratepayers, the Shire represents a wide range of views, needs, and interests.

Although many of the foundational challenges and opportunities of today will still exist in 2040 (such as education, health, and the environment), the context of the Shire, its people, and the world at large is likely to be vastly different. 

In 2018, Mansfield Shire was projected to have an average population growth of 1.1%. Its current population growth is a staggering 3.6%—far outpacing average Victorian regional population growth of 1.3%. Extrapolating these figures out to 2040, Mansfield Shire may easily see a population of between 11,800 and 18,000 people—most of which will likely be concentrated around Mansfield township. This does not include contextual social changes occurring today, such as migration to regional areas as a result of COVID-19.

Mansfield Shire · Anticipated Population Growth

Mansfield Shire will inevitably continue to grow, evolve, and change. How it manages this change to ensure healthy prosperity, wellbeing, infrastructure, environment, and community is key—requiring a robust Vision that both Council and the wider community can use as its ‘North Star’ on its path to 2040. 


The Local Government Act 2020 (‘the Act’) was introduced in 2020 as an ambitious reform—allowing Councils to move towards a principles-based approaches to community development and engagement. Under the Act, all Councils are required to develop a Community Vision through a deliberative engagement process. The Act states:  

  • A Council must maintain a Community Vision that is developed with its municipal community in accordance with its deliberative engagement practices.
  • The scope of the Community Vision is a period of at least the next 10 financial years.
  • A Community Vision must describe the municipal community's aspirations for the future of the municipality.
  • A Council must develop or review the Community Vision in accordance with its deliberative engagement practices and adopt the Community Vision by 31 October in the year following a general election.
  • The Community Vision adopted under subsection (4) has effect from 1 July in the year following a general election.

spur: was engaged to co-design a Mansfield Shire Community Vision 2040, using a deliberative engagement methodology as per the requirements outlined above.

Deliberative engagement

The Act requires Mansfield Shire’s 2040 Community Vision to be developed through a “deliberative engagement process”. This means that engagement should be defined, informed, representative, supported and democratic. However, the Act stops short of providing a mandated process or methodology. This is perhaps advantageous as every Shire requires a unique approach; how Melbourne deliberatively engages will (and should) be different to how Glenelg Shire or Mansfield Shire approaches deliberative engagement.

Although there are many schools of thought about deliberative engagement, most are built on the principle of shifting engagement with community towards a state of empowerment - as outlined in IAP2’s Spectrum of Participation (which, in itself, is built on Arnstein's Ladder of Participation).

In conjunction with developing the 2040 Community Vision, spur: was also engaged to develop a bespoke Deliberative Engagement Framework, adaptable to myriad Council projects.

An initial draft Deliberative Engagement Framework was developed by spur: and tested as the underpinning methodology for the 2040 Community Vision. This draft framework was then refined based on the insights and learnings uncovered. The final framework now underpins all future Council community engagement initiatives.

Below is an excerpt of the framework's core architecture built on four key pillars of representation, understanding, input, and decision-making. The architecture is specifically designed to be generative, not prescriptive:

Deliberative Engagement Framework architecture

More information on the framework's base architecture is available (open source) as a tool via the spur: resources page.


Beyond the narrow requirement outlined by the Local Government Act 2020 of steering Council decision making and action, a good community vision should inspire and activate community. Similarly, the power of a vision is not realised through the mere existence of words, but through the actions by both Council and the community at large.

According to the Mansfield Shire community the Vision should be:

  • Reflective of the community’s values.
  • Measurable, clear, and resolute.
  • Inclusive, representative, and beneficial to everyone single person in the Shire.
  • Both aspirational, future-focused, and realistic.
  • Describe a future state and provide a roadmap of how to get there.
  • Contextual (based on the wisdom of the past, present, and future).
  • Thought provoking, informative, and activating.
  • A tool for community engagement and create shared purpose.
  • A key guide for decision-making.
  • Holistic and cover all aspects of the Shire.
  • Known and embraced by all of community.
  • A tool for accountability.
  • A North Star for all stakeholders across the community.


The Mansfield Shire Vision 2040 was developed in 6 phases to achieve the goals outlined below:

Phase 1 · Council engagement · April 2021

  • Understand what success of this project would be for Council.
  • Align Council around the purpose and need of the Community Vision.
  • Map how this project intersects with other Council work and plans.
  • Elicit current understanding and practice of deliberative engagement within Council.
  • Foster and build trust and collaboration between spur: and Council.
  • Map key community groups and demographics.
  • Better understand relationships between Council and community.

Phase 2 · Community representative engagement · May–June, 2021

  • Map key values and attitudes of key communities and demographics.
  • Map past experiences and attitudes of working with Council.
  • Map best practice engagement for communities.
  • Map needs and barriers to engagement with Council for communities.

Phase 3 · Community engagement · July 2021

  • Foster ownership of the Community Vision amongst residents and community.
  • Elicit broad and divergent views of what community wants Mansfield Shire to be in 2040.
  • Further build engagement and trust between community and Council.

Phase 4 ·Deliberative engagement · July 2021

  • To present the content and insights generated by community during Phase 3 to the deliberative panel.
  • For the deliberative panel discuss, debate, and sort content into outcomes versus outputs.
  • For deliberative panel to prioritise which outcomes should be part of the final Community Vision.
  • To ensure participants enjoy and form a connection with the deliberative process—fostering trust for future.

Phase 5 & 6· Community feedback & adoption by Council · August–September, 2021

  • To ensure the draft Mansfield Shire Community Vision 2040 resonates, is understood, and is agreed upon by community.
  • To ensure Council complies with its responsibilities under the Local Government Act 2020.

Mansfield Shire community members participating in a co-design workshop


The resulting Community Vision 2040 is comprehensive and, as noted by Mansfield Shire Councillor Tehan, a "vision for the community, by the community".

Below is a one-page summary of the vision broken into domains, destinations (outcomes we want to achieve), barriers (to the destinations), journeys (how the community will each overcome the barriers to reaching the destinations), and enablers (base requirements and methods).

Click the image to see a larger version:

Mansfield · Vision on a page
Mansfield Shire · Community Vision 2040 · Vision on a page

As the Community Vision 2040 is in the public record, we are also delighted to share the comprehensive report, too.

Council approval

The  Mansfield Shire Community Vision 2040 was adopted by Mansfield Shire Council on October 19, 2021. Below is a video from the Council meeting:

project team

Lee Crockford
Lee Crockford

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