What is a Citizens' Jury?
A Citizens' Jury is a group of randomly selected citizens (representing a sample of the community) that considers an issue of social significance and makes recommendations to government. Government gives a commitment to act on these.
The Jury can call expert witnesses of their own choosing, as well as looking at current literature and research on the issue. The community is invited to make submissions for the Jury to consider.
Members of the Jury then deliberate on this information and make their recommendations. This is the opposite of a survey or opinion poll. Public opinion is what we think of off the top of our heads, while a deliberative process gives people time, access to a range of information and a clear level of authority.
The authority provides an incentive for citizens to give generously of their time, in this case meeting for five full days in person across a three month period, to explore the issue in detail and find common ground. Jurors also spend another 40-50 hours reading in their own time and reflecting on discussions with their fellow jurors and information provided by expert speakers (of their own choosing).
The process is independent from Government. The City, the State or the newDemocracy Foundation can’t influence who is selected to be on the Jury, what they consider, who they hear from or what they recommend.
Who is running it?
The newDemocracy Foundation is an independent, non-partisan research organisation aiming to identify improvements to our democratic process and innovation in engaging the community in decision-making. Read more about newDemocracy by visiting their website.
The City of Sydney and the NSW Government are contributing funding for the project. The City will also provide meeting rooms, access to our OPEN Sydney research and this page to provide information on the project.
The Lord Mayor has committed to provide an in-person response on behalf of Council, while the Premier has committed to table the recommendations in Parliament unedited – this is a significant level of authority and a clear way for everyday people in the community to be heard.
How long will it take?
The Jury will be convened in early 2014 from February to April. The Jury will hold five face-to-face meetings. The project is based on a similar process recently undertaken in South Australia.