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Photo by Peter W. Tait

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.

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.

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

CAPaD Strategic Intent Summary (download)

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 this document

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.