Photo by Brian Rope

Our Vision

A democratic Canberra — where citizens trust their elected representatives, hold them accountable, engage in decision making, and defend what sustains the public interest.

Our Mission

To build a social movement to engage citizens and the political system in creating a democratic Canberra.

Our Creed

Real democracy is Participatory. It produces decisions that put people first — all people, not just the top 1% and not just the political class.

Does it mean we do politicians' work for them? No, it means we help them to work for us. Will it really work? Yes! There is ample evidence and experience around the world, but there is also strong resistance, so we need you to be a part of building an unstoppable social movement.

We believe there are better ways to govern ourselves than the current choices offered us, and so government in Canberra and Australia can be made a lot more democratic than it presently is.

We believe that the most important thing to do is get people more actively participating in the decision making process. There are many ways to do this, and many places in decision making for people to join in.

The key thing is to get involved in what interests you at whatever level you like in acting for change.

The changes we seek

  • Everyone knows more about the risks to a strong and effective democracy
  • Everyone knows more about how to improve our governance system
  • Workable models to support citizen participation in governance are tested and implemented, with widespread public commitment
  • Government systems and processes support the public interest
  • People vote for representatives who commit to improving democracy

How will we know if we are on the right track?

  • Canberrans will be enthusiastic about what we are doing (ie most know about it and support in principle, many know the details and some are actively engaged)
  • Elected representatives will acknowledge and respect our work
  • Civil society, business, and elected representatives will want to work with us to demonstrate and learn what is possible, workable and effective for strengthening democracy

What we will do next

  • Build widespread interest and support for strong and effective citizen participation within the community
  • Create ways for people to listen to and share what matters to them with each other and elected representatives
  • Inform/educate, demonstrate and learn what works to strengthen democratic government
  • Advocate for and defend democratic systems and processes
  • Develop and try methods to hold our representatives accountable to their constituents

2018 Key Activity topic areas:

  1. A new story of wise governance for the common good
  2. Genuine citizen participation in government decisions
  3. Elected representatives working openly and transparently for the common good

See 2018 Activity Plan

Operating Style and principles driving the Alliance

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

 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 Canberra Alliance grew out of a series of “Kitchen Table Conversations” held in Canberra by SEE-Change in 2014 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.

A common thread in conversations was the failure of government to protect the common good.

The Canberra Alliance was formed by some of the participants from these conversations, with the aim to develop strategies to make the views of members available to decision-makers, and bring the power of the people to bear on government decision making through various participatory and 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.

Constitutional Objectives of the Association

 4(1) To empower people in Canberra to own and plan for our common future and the common good by developing and supporting citizen, community and civil society engagement in public decision making.

4(2) To facilitate opportunities for citizen input to government deliberation.

4(3) To develop and assist citizen capacity to hold government more directly accountable.

Download the CAPaD Constitution in PDF format.