We will continue to improve ways for citizens to participate in creating our future in Canberra and beyond
The Genuine Citizen Participation Action Group (GCPAG) will strengthen democracy in the ACT by encouraging effective citizen participation in policy making.
Our goals are to ensure:
- The citizen voice is influential in ACT policy making
- ACT elected representatives and the public service are held accountable for good participatory process and implement trustworthy citizen participation
- Stakeholders trust GCPAG to contribute to learning and better practice by providing unbiased, informed and helpful commentary.
Our stakeholders are ACT citizens, other community organisations, elected representatives of the ACT Legislative Assembly, ACT public servants, academics and consultants with expertise in participatory processes.
Government with the people – building trust in deliberative processes,
The criteria we developed with ACTCOSS against which to assess a community participation in deliberative process has guided our thoughts about how to involve the community.
Our report, Citizen Review of 2017-18 participatory deliberative processes in the ACT, reflects our experience of the ACT government's early experiments with deliberation.
The OECD reviewed international experiences of citizen deliberations. Their report, Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions, is here. CAPaD had a small input to this research program.
In 2019 we will work towards these goals by:
- ongoing work with the ACT government and citizen groups to get our voice heard in decisions through evaluating and advocating for more, robust ACT mini-public trials
- building the Resources Library for members and the public
- working between academe and the public on bringing participatory and deliberative theory into practice.
The Citizen Jury / Mini Public Evaluation Action Group formed to advocate for and learn about citizens jury type processes in Canberra. We wanted to encourage learning and experimentation to see if the broader community would feel these were valid ways of expanding citizen participation in government decisions.
This Action Group has been very productive:
Developed a Participatory Democracy Kit
In 2016 CAPaD developed a Participatory Democracy Kit based on case studies and best practice examples from Australia and overseas. Let us know if you have other resources to add.
In 2016, in the lead-up to the ACT election, CAPaD advocated for the use of Participative Democracy processes by
- Engaging in conversations with incumbent and aspiring MLAs and providing them with the Participatory Democracy kit
- Gathering data about their openness to using Participatory Processes in the written ‘Candidates Statements’, and
- Publishing the Candidates Statements on the CAPaD website.
We received feedback that our actions were partly responsible for the Barr/Rattenbury government committing, in 2017, to the use of more participatory processes which was subsequently followed by the trial of four processes in the ACT in 2018. (See the YourSay website.)
During 2017/18 we engaged in conversations and shared the Participatory Democracy kit with MLAs, the Chief Minister’s Strategic Engagement and Communication Team, with academics from the School of Deliberative Democracy at the University of Canberra and with members of ACTCOSS.
Developed an Evaluative Principles Document
The action group partnered with ACTCOSS to develop a set of principles to evaluate effective participative democracy processes and published these.
Collaborated to Form Deliberate ACT
During 2018 the action group collaborated with Canberra’s Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance and the ACT Government to form a community of interest called Deliberate ACT for the specific purpose of exploring how citizens and governments can better deliberate, collaborate and decide together.
Co-Designed Deliberate ACT
Deliberate ACT was a free event and open to all including the wider public. We co-designed 8 successful meetings (recorded here) with around 25 participants each time. We met every six weeks at the Museum of Australian Democracy throughout 2018, and deliberated on key topics.
Applied Evaluative Principles
When the ACT Government began to trial four different Participative Democracy engagement processes in 2018, our Action Group followed the processes as each was rolled out, and was ready to apply the Evaluative Principles developed together with ACTCOSS in 2017/18.
We then used the Principles to reflect on our impressions of the four processes, created a matrix identifying strengths and also areas that need improving upon, and provided government with constructive feedback.
Hosted Deliberate ACT Sessions
Our Action Group was able to host and present our Evaluative findings and learnings to the Deliberate ACT forum, attended by a broad community of interest.
Hosting Dinner and Democracy
The action group worked with Foodish at the Belconnen Markets to host two very successful Dinner and Democracy events where the community had a chance to hear first-hand, over a delicious meal, the stories of citizen jurors who had been involved with recent PD processes in Canberra. The jurors described how they valued their experience of deliberating on issues relevant for the common good of the community. Their stories and comments are being transcribed from recordings of the Dinner and Democracy events for future sharing in community education activities. Ask us if you can help the transcribing.
Writing to the Canberra Times
We wrote a number of Opinion Pieces to the Canberra Times, but sadly had no uptake.
We prepared an analysis of print media articles about the Citizen Jury on Third Party Insurance.
Communicating via Social Media
We have been using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with our members and wider public. Our aim is to get out a public message that we all need to learn more about these processes, to use them as tools for becoming drivers not passengers in our own democracy. Visit these sites and like them.