When to deliberate
- The problem is complicated or complex.
- For help in framing what the problem is and what the issues are, or if there is a need to establish a shared understanding.
- When a consultative process where government deliberates on the issues alone will create winners or losers.
- Government and the public work together to frame the problem and identify any issues and develop solutions, but government is responsible for implementation and delivery.
Examples of deliberation
A citizens’ jury is a group of randomly selected people that are representative of the broader community, who are briefed by experts to help resolve an issue. They have been used for a range of issues - including healthcare provision, public service funding, insurance policy, the environment and even constitutional change. The South Australian Government has used them to consider road safety, and cat and dog management. Find out more on the SA Government’s YourSay platform.
Please note that citizen juries are a deliberative engagement type only when the jury makes a recommendation, and it is up to the government to decide whether it will implement the recommendation or not. When the jury’s decision is final, the government is merely a facilitator of the process.
For further examples of citizen juries and other deliberative engagements see the Democracy R&D website.
The Australian Government is aiming to build a single storage facility to permanently dispose of low-level and temporarily store Australia’s intermediate-level radioactive waste. The recent amendments to the National Radioactive Waste Management Act (2012) formalises the importance of broad community support before a site could be selected.
The facility will not be built in a location if the nearby community does not want it. The community has been provided with information from experts, and given time and space to deliberate prior to voting on the matter.
See how communities had their say on the site for the facility.
Does government need help from the public to find and implement a solution?
A ‘collaborate’ engagement is a very specific way to engage - not simply a vague or general approach that might involve some stakeholders. It involves a commitment between governments, citizens, and/or organisations to pool their resources and align their efforts to achieve a shared goal that no one person or organisation has the resources to solve alone – not even government.
In these engagements, people work with the government to define an issue, develop and deliver proposed solutions. Participants share decision-making and implementation of solutions. Again, participants need to be able to support their lived experiences with evidence and facts. Government must be willing to trust the process to deliver recommendations it could work with.
Typically, when an engagement is a collaboration the following characteristics are present:
- Like a 'deliberate' engagement, collaborative engagements also take a rules-based approach. Participants are given an engagement plan that sets boundaries for how far and in what way citizens and/or stakeholders will participate in decision-making.
- The process begins by giving participants an opportunity to present their views to decision-makers, provide evidence and arguments in support of them, and reply to opposing views.
- Once views have been presented, participants engage in constructive discussions about the best way to solve the problem, subject to the boundaries and rules set by the plan.
- The participants should assess different options on their merits and adjust their views accordingly.
- There needs to be an agreement on government’s role versus the community’s role in implementing and delivering any recommended solutions. This could take the form of an agreed action plan.
- The final decision on how to proceed remains with government.
The promise to the public can take the form of: ‘we will look to you for advice and innovation in formulating solutions. Subject to the boundaries and rules set by the engagement plan, we will incorporate your advice and recommendations into final decisions to the maximum extent possible. We will need your help to implement the solutions together’.