On 30 October 2017 the ACT Chief Minister advised via Media Release that the ACT Government’s first Citizens’ Jury had, after days of intense deliberation, handed down its report on " . . . the objectives for an improved Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme".
The Citizens' Jury was made up of a diverse group of citizens representing the ACT community made up randomly of people selected to participate and who agreed to volunteer. Membership ranged in age from high school students to retirees, who were from different socio-economic backgrounds.
The Citizens' Jury was required to listen to expert consultants, stakeholders, witnesses, people affected by the scheme, and public submissions over a period of four days and used social media tools to access in-depth documents pertaining to CTP schemes from other states and to interact and discuss views with each other.
A stakeholder reference group is to use the objectives and recommendations devised by the Citizens' Jury to develop several CTP models, after which the Citizens' Jury is to reconvene in March 2018 to deliberate on the models, and select the one that best represents the interests of the broader ACT community.
The Citizens' Jury was given the task of answering the question:
In answering the question the Citizens' Jury was exposed, according to its report, to an extensive body of evidence, including thousands of pages of documentation, and input from witnesses ranging from prepared statements to question and answer sessions with input from subject matter experts from many organisations participating in the current CTP scheme.
The Citizens' Jury was also provided the opportunity to hear from past successful and unsuccessful CTP claimants.
The Citizens' Jury process was reported as being sometimes contentious "at times" because jurors were representing a "wide variety of values and perspectives". This was controlled by "process facilitators" tasked with supporting the Citizens' Jury to work through the many issues and discussion of them. Further, it is reported that the Citizen's Jury was able to consider any evidence it thought was "important or pertinent" in coming to and understanding of the CTP Scheme and designing the objectives for any new Scheme.
In its report the Citizens' Jury indicated that it had come up with six "overarching objectives" said to broadly reflect the perspective of the Citizens' Jury. They are as follows:
The scheme designers have now been directed to use the objectives arrived at by the Citizens' Jury as the guiding aims for creating alternative models for the ACT CTP scheme.
The Citizens' Jury is then to take a role in part two of the process where it will consider and evaluate the models provided by the "Stakeholder Reference group".
As the ACT's first Citizens' Jury shows this is a new way of doing government consultation:
The process is carefully structured to ensure there is free deliberation, accountability for decisions and no external pressure. Strict rules are made about how observers and government representatives can interact during this process. Experts from industry, academia and government are appointed to mentor and support the participants.
Apart from the ACT, citizen juries have been widely used in Victoria at a city and Local Government level and in South Australia on a variety of area, some examples of which are:
Advocates for citizen juries claim that in a world where communities are often found to feel disconnected from government bodies and the decisions they make, that activities such as a citizens’ juries offer ". . . a way to empower and re-engage communities as part of the political process."
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