ACT Government’s First Citizens’ Jury Hands Down Report on CTP

Friday 10 November 2017 @ 9.38 a.m. | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure | Legal Research

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".

How the Citizens' Jury Came About

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.

How the Process Worked

The Citizens' Jury was given the task of answering the question: 

“What should be the objectives of an improved CTP scheme to best balance the interests of all road users”.

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.

What the Jury Came Up With

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: 

  1. That there should be early access to medical treatment, economic support and rehabilitation services. This objective was approved by all the citizen jurors with the report indicating 84% of jurors assessed it to be an 8/10 priority. The meeting of treatment, rehabilitation and economic needs as soon as possible and then as they occur was seen as improving outcomes for people injured in a traffic accident and as important because research demonstrated that early access improves medical and rehabilitation outcomes.
  2. There should be equitable cover for all people injured in a motor vehicle accident. This objective was approved by all but two citizen jurors with only one abstaining - this objective t according to the report was  assessed by 82% as being at least an 8/10 priority.
  3. A CTP Scheme should be a value for money and an efficient system - all citizen jurors approved this objective and 54% assessed it to be at least an 8/10 priority.
  4. There should be promotion of broader knowledge of the scheme and safer driver practices - all the citizen jurors approved of this objective and 38% of them assessed it to be at least an 8/10 priority.
  5. It should be an objective to implement a support system to better navigate the claims process - all but one citizen juror approved of this objective and 36% assessed it to be at least an 8/10 priority.
  6. The system arrived at should be a system that strengthens integrity and reduces fraudulent behaviour - all but one citizen juror approved of this objective and 26% assessed it to be at least an 8/10 priority.

Next Steps

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".

Citizen Juries a New Form of Consultation

As the ACT's first Citizens' Jury shows this is a new way of doing government consultation:

". . . it places the jury participants firmly in the driver’s seat. What is discussed and how the final document is articulated and written are all at the jury’s discretion."

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:

  • The future of South Australia and if Nuclear Waste Storage has a role to play in that future
  • Reducing the numbers of Unwanted Dogs and Cats
  • Kangaroo Island Citizens' Juries

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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