Photo by Brian Rope

CAPaD wants a democratic Australia — where citizens trust their elected representatives, hold them accountable, engage in decision making, and sustain the public good.

We do this by:

  • Empowering Canberrans to engage in owning and planning for our common future
  • Developing and supporting citizens, community and civil society participation in public decision-making
  • Facilitating opportunities for citizen input to government decisions
  • Developing citizens' capacity to hold governments and policymakers more accountable.

Our Vision

A democratic Australia — where citizens trust their elected representatives, hold them accountable, engage in decision making, and sustain the public good.

Our Mission

To engage and connect citizens who care about the public good and the political system to contribute effectively to a more democratic Australia.

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.

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.

Our Theory of Change

CAPaD seeks to harness the power of ordinary people working together to achieve responsive, accountable and transparent public policy and implementation, to change the current dynamic of powerful political parties, vested interests and deliberately confusing public information which result in community disengagement from politics.

We promote the idea that our representatives are elected to work for our communal interests from the electorate to the national (and international) level.

We do this by promoting discussions among people in the community about how to get good government, advocating for deliberative methods such as citizen juries and citizen assemblies, and helping community members identify people who will represent them well and govern with them.


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 good
  • People vote for representatives who commit to improving democracy
  • Representatives governing with participation of community members for the public good

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 do

Implement an Education Strategy that includes these elements:

  • Inform and educate community members and local representatives about, and provide information for voters to use, to elect representatives who demonstrate a commitment to working to continually safeguard and strengthen good governance, and to building ongoing active relationships with their constituents to enable them to participate, that is bring their lived skills and experience, into government decision making;
  • Inform and educate community members and local representatives about, and advocating for the use of deliberative means, such as mini-publics, citizens summits, juries and assemblies, which can bring citizen participation into the representative political structure;
  • Run educative processes for civil society and the community at large, for parliamentarians themselves, for political parties and for the civil servants in how to improve community participation in governing with MPs including by building widespread interest and support for strong and effective citizen participation within the community, creating ways for people to listen to and share what matters to them with each other and their elected representatives, and learning, informing and demonstrating what works to strengthen democratic government;
  • Advocating for and defending democratic systems and processes;
  • Collaborating with other organisations to reform governance processes in Australia to improve the mechanisms of good governance;
  • Collaborating with academics in the deliberative and participatory democracy space to help do these things.


The 2020-21 Committee Members:

Convenor: Peter Tait


Treasurer: Mark Spain

Ordinary Member: Bob Douglas

Ordinary Member: Gilles Rohan

Ordinary Member: Barbara O'Dwyer



For more details about the Committee, see our Committee page.

Constitutional Objectives of the Association

To promote individual and community well-being and the common good in a healthy environment by advancing education to inspire people to participate in strengthening democracy by:

(1)      empowering people in Australia, and particularly Canberra, to own and effectively participate in creating our common future by developing and supporting genuine citizen, community and civil society engagement in public decision making,

(2)      stimulating and facilitating opportunities for citizens and community to participate in government and particularly parliamentary deliberation,

(3)      developing and assisting citizen and community capacity to hold government, parliament, our elected representatives and policymakers more directly accountable,

(4)      to establish and maintain a public fund to be called the Awakening Democracy Foundation for the specific purpose of supporting the educational objects of CAPaD, and

(5)      any other purposes beneficial to the general public and analogous to the other charitable purposes


Download the CAPaD Constitution.

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 full report from the kitchen table conversations is available here.

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.