VoTE started because a group of Top End locals were not feeling well represented by their politicians. The Top Enders were inspired by a community movement in the electorate of Indi in central Victoria, and other federal electorates across the country: locals had held ‘Kitchen Table Conversations’ to record their voices about what they wanted in their own communities.

We wanted to participate in our democracy in positive ways, re-building trust, encouraging others to listen to each other, raise their voices and pursue high standards in political representation.

Eight Darwin locals decided to do the same thing, to hold Kitchen Table Conversations and provide a report to all the candidates in the 2024 NT election. Voices of the Top End was founded in 2021.



  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Transparency
  • Diversity
  • Inclusivity
  • Accountability
  • Positivity
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Curiosity

Voices of the Top End Goals

  • To create opportunities for community participation in democracy 
  • Encourage a diversity of views  
  • Foster respectful and constructive engagement in local issues
  • To record and report on the views of our community, contributing to policy priorities and communicating key community values

VoTE does not seek to directly represent anyone, but is open to anyone. We are not an interest group, except that we exist to promote democratic participation and our key values. 

Report #1 is not able to provide a comprehensive representation of all of Darwin’s diverse community members. We collected some demographic data from our participants, which are set out in the report.

KTC’s have been open and promoted to invite anyone who is interested, however we largely relied on people approaching us to host a KTC. We have seen that most KTC hosts were people who have already participated, and want to bring in their neighbours, friends, family or contacts. In future, we will more proactively seek to include a broader range of community members from diverse backgrounds.

Top End Community Engagement Report 2024 is a summary of the views 249 participants in of 43 Kitchen Table Conversations held over the 2023-24 wet season. Its three themes are:

  • our community - why we love it - what makes a strong community
  • political representation - what do we want from our elected representatives?
  • issues and solutions - what are our priority issues for government action?

The report is based on detailed records of every KTC, analysed to create a data set, summarised to communicate the community’s key issues, priorities and values.

It contains the views of 249 Top End locals, as they shared in their own words in an open, respectful forum amongst neighbours, family, friends and/or strangers. We are humbled to have the opportunity to represent these thoughtful views to share a broader story.

The full report will be available on our website after the launch.

This report is:

  • A record of thoughtful responses from 249 Top EndDarwin residents to 9 standard questions;
  • A sample of what our community values;
  • An important snapshot of issues that will influence the August 2024 NT election;
  • Evidence that we value our democracy and respect others’ views;
  • A chance to share deeper thoughts on difficult issues than is usually offered by mainstream or social media;
  • An opportunity for elected representatives and candidates to listen and engage. 

This report isn’t:

  • A comprehensive representation of all of Darwin’s diverse community members;
  • A short-cut to solutions or policy platforms;
  • A comparison of current policies.


No Voices of the Top End is not a political party. VoTE does not have links to any political party and VoTE’s constitution says it will ‘maintain independence from all political parties’.

VoTE is not for or against any political party or candidate. VoTE will make its report publicly available, so all candidates can see what is important to the community.

All Top End voters are invited to join a Kitchen Table Conversation and get their views into VoTE’s report.

Please get in contact if you would like to know more about the KTC process.

Once the report is launched we will provide it to the 25 MLAs and to other candidates. It will be publicly available online and we will share aspects in our Facebook and Insta networks. 

Report #1 will provide a way to open discussions between community, MLA’s and other candidates about what matters to Top End locals. It will show that meaningful discussions can lead to better policy.


Anyone can run for election as an independent, but there is a growing movement behind ‘community independents’ in Australian politics right now. A community independent is a candidate who has entered politics from a community perspective, and is committed to listening and working constructively with the community if they are elected.

In the Federal electorate of Indi, Cathy McGowan was elected as an independent in 2013 with a huge volunteer campaign, taking a previously safe Liberal seat, and the community has kept the seat independent for the last 4 federal elections. Their current member, Helen Haines, has continued to work closely with the community and has led the federal Parliament’s development of world-leading anti-corruption (ICAC) legislation. 

The so-called ‘teals’ are community independents, who are all working closely with the grassroots members of their electorates and upholding a high level of transparency. 

It is crucial that community independents truly represent community concerns, and pursue evidence-based policy, above their own career agenda or personal interests.


  • Kitchen Table Conversations (KTCs) are discussions between (usually) 4-8 people, hosted at someone’s home or sometimes in a comfortable public place.
  • Voices of the Top End held [43number] KTC’s from September 2023 to February 2024, all  independently facilitated and scribed.
  • KTC’s follow a set of agreed principles for respectful listening and create a safe space for an honest exchange of ideas. 
  • Although participants discuss the issues that are of the greatest concern to them, they then have the opportunity to suggest ideas about what could be done about them. Mmost people leave a 90 minute KTC feeling uplifted after sharing openly with others, motivated by our love for this place and community.

Kitchen Table Conversations (KTCs) are a way of finding out what a community wants from its elected representatives. The Victorian Women’s Trust has written a guide about how they used KTCs with great success. https://www.vwt.org.au/projects/kitchen-table-conversations/

Small groups of neighbours, workmates, family or friends meet around a table to answer eight questions. The answers are recorded and included in a report for candidates in the upcoming election. VoTE wants to influence the policy positions of our elected members and how they vote, an essential step is to tell them what’s important to the community. KTCs are a great way to gather this information.