Photo by Brian Rope

What is CAPaD for?

The Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD) seeks to improve the democratic process by:

  • developing and supporting citizen, community and civil society engagement in public decision-making
  • empowering Canberrans to engage in owning and planning for our common future and the common good
  • facilitating opportunities for citizen input to government deliberations
  • developing citizens’ capacity to hold governments and policy makers more directly accountable.

To do this CAPaD will bring together individuals and civil society groups from across the Canberra region.
Similar bodies have been developed, or are forming around the world and in Australia, such as the Sydney Alliance.


Our Objectives

  • To empower Canberrans to engage in owning and planning for our common future and the common good.
  • To develop and support citizen, community and civil society engagement in public decision-making.
  • To facilitate opportunities for citizen input to government deliberations.
  • To develop citizens’ capacity to hold governments and policy makers more directly accountable.

 

CAPaD Strategic Intent Summary

Vision

An equitable, environmentally sustainable and healthy Canberra where political and economic decisions are made by everyone for our common good.

Mission

To make Participatory Democracy work in the ACT for decisions in the public interest.

CAPaD Objectives

  1. To empower people in Canberra to own and plan for our common future by developing and supporting citizen, community and civil society engagement in public decision making.
  2. To facilitate opportunities for citizen input to government deliberation.
  3. To develop and assist citizen capacity to hold governments more directly accountable.

Our theory of change

CAPaD runs training in participatory deliberative democracy methods and processes, helps create and promote ways to engage citizens and parliamentarians in participatory processes such as citizen juries, assemblies, and other genuine consultations, THEN more people will be more engaged in decision making at strategy development, policy formulation and planning levels, AND THEN governance in Canberra will be more democratic, LEADING TO better outcomes for society and the environment. To exercise democratic power, citizens need to

  • stay awake and informed individually, and to
  • deliberate and act collectively.

Strategic Priorities

Educate, Demonstrate, Legislate participatory democracy practices in ACT governance

Priority activity to meet objective Time frame Success indicator
1. To empower people in Canberra to own and plan for our common future by developing and supporting citizen, community and civil society engagement in public decision making.
1.1 Educate Canberra civil society groups about Participatory Democracy (PD) processes July 2017 A PD manual and attending 20 group gatherings
1.2 Demonstrate a PD practice in collaboration with the New Democracy Foundation to solve a Government-chosen topic. Oct 2017 A government sponsored PD process is conducted and evaluated
1.3 Conduct meetings with ACT politicians to advocate PD. April 2017 A government sponsored PD process is conducted and evaluated
2. To facilitate opportunities for citizen input to government deliberation.
2.1 Deliver a public citizen’s jury process sponsored by the ACT Government July 2017 Report in media and on ACT Gov website
2.2 Pass a Deliberative Practices Act in the ACT Legislative Assembly. Dec 2017 A draft Deliberative Practices Bill document
2.3 Conduct community organising training Dec 2017 Evaluation of program completed
2.4 Engage with ACT civil society groups to implement participatory democracy July 2017 Be invited to 20 group gatherings
3. To develop and assist citizen capacity to hold governments more directly accountable.
3.1 Establish a Public Interest Council in the ACT Dec 2017 A Public Interest Council exists
3.2 Strengthen the office of ombudsman   The ombudsman reports to the community with improvements
3.3 Conduct a participatory process for citizens to design a mechanism for transparency and accountability for representatives July 2017 An accountability charter for representatives is created

 

Download document as PDF

Download the CAPaD Constitution in PDF format.

The Alliance places high value on

  • Commitment to
    • sustainability
    • equity
    • inclusive prosperity
    • justice
  • Community focus
  • Democratic outlook and practice
  • Respect for all
  • Diversity
  • Non-partisan approaches
  • Trustworthiness
  • Credibility
  • Transparency
  • Wide accountability

Operating Style and principles driving the Alliance

Style of Operation

  • Seek broad-based participation across Canberra
  • Strengthen existing community, faith, environmental and civil society groups
  • Build on volunteerism and publicly acknowledged donations
  • Employ a learning-by-doing mode.

Where the Alliance came from

The drive to set up the Alliance (CAPaD) arose from a series of “Kitchen Table Conversations” held in Canberra which identified many issues of concern to participants who believed they were being inadequately addressed by governments.

Issues included the high-speed rail link, food production, housing availability, fairer taxation, refugees, environmental regulation, overseas aid, public transport and climate change.

The Alliance as a whole and its member organisations expect to promote regular Kitchen Table Conversations to LISTEN to what Canberra people think about various issues.

The elected committee will consider the results of these conversations and develop strategies to make the views of members available to decision-makers, and bring to bear the power of the people through various deliberative democracy methods.

Beth Slatyer

(Convenor) Beth Slatyer is passionate about improving health and wellbeing for all. She is an Honorary Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne and works on health and development across the Pacific.

She was previously a Senior Health Specialist with AusAID and through that work developed a deep appreciation of how good governance, public interest institutions and accountability underpin equitable and sustainable social and economic systems. Beth was born and bred in Canberra — and is committed to giving voice to all Canberrans who want a well-functioning democracy which operates in the public interest.

Petra Cram

(Secretary) Petra has been a Primary school teacher for 25 years, is committed to excellence in education and also cares deeply for the well-being of Earth and its complex living systems. She is passionate about finding participatory and democratic solutions to the problem of the corporate takeover of our civic and political lives, and is convinced that a cohesion of our diverse civil society groups, will garner the power needed to create a balance between economic, civic and political forces in our society.

Mark Spain

(Treasurer) Mark Spain is a leader and learner in developing systems, structures and processes that build innovation, curiosity and high-trust relationships with people and their organisations to produce sustainable business results.

He enjoys working with energetic teams of people who are focused on creating extraordinary results. He is particularly passionate about implementing sustainable and ethical business management systems that build success for all players, and for the future.

Currently he is Chair of SEE-Change.

His family, climbing mountains and house-building rate highly, too.

Bob Douglas

Bob Douglas, since his retirement from the Foundation Directorship of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the ANU in 2001 has been first, the Chair and now a Director of Australia21.

He was, from 2006 to 2012 Chair of SEE-Change, for which he currently leads a Youth Parliament on Sustainability in schools across the ACT.

Peter W. Tait

Peter Tait has been a General Practitioner for 35 years, 30 in Aboriginal health in Central Australia. He was the 2007 RACGP GP of the Year. He achieved a Masters of Climate Change at ANU in 2010. He is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the ANU Medical School.

Peter believes a person’s health is grounded in a healthy society, and a healthy society on a healthy ecosystem. He is on the Board of the Public Health Association Australia and active as convener of the PHAA Ecology and Environment Special Interest Group, and in the Climate and Health Alliance, Frank Fenner Foundation, the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy, and other environment and peace groups.

Walter Steensby

(Web Manager) Walter is one of many people concerned by the direction that democracy in Australia, and indeed the world, is taking, and has joined CAPaD to work towards new solutions, new attitudes and new behaviours.

He holds a Bachelor's degree in Town Planning and a Master's in Science, Technology and Society Studies.

He and his wife pursue a sustainable way of life, growing some of their own vegetables and recycling where possible. He is a past president of the Canberra Organic Growers Society, is a member of the Canberra City Farm, the Slow Food Canberra convivium and SEE-Change. He is part of the movement in the ACT towards setting up a much-expanded regional food economy.