People’s Policy: Childrens’ Wellbeing, South Australia

In 2017 in South Australia, almost 3,500 children live away from their family in care and this number has been steadily rising every year. 1 in 4 South Australian children are the subject of at least one notification of child abuse or neglect by the age of 10. This is much higher in some communities and sadly for Aboriginal communities the figure is even more alarming.

Our existing approach is not working.

The consequences are serious both for our children and our society; with young adults who were taken away from their families experiencing lower levels of employment, increased rates of convictions, increased rates of homelessness and increased rates of substance abuse.

The Approach

Our governments are caught in a bind. They know the challenges facing Australia are urgent and complex but they can’t seem to find a way forward. As George Megalogenis has said: 

“Put bluntly, we don’t have a plan. We know we need one, written jointly across government, business, trade unions and civil society. But we keep finding excuses to return to the trenches of our prejudice.”

And that leaves the community frustrated, angry, and distrustful.
We want to create a solution that focuses on creating long-term sustainable solutions to wicked, complex problems; a solution that empowers the community, connects the diverse interests of individuals and organisations, and gives the government real, evidence-based options to work with. And we’ll achieve this by turning the system inside out.

As a result, we designed People’s Policy.

People’s Policy turns policy making on its head. The purpose of The People’s Policy is to develop policy through a combination of facilitated deliberation and public input. Underscoring this approach is a desire for the public to develop and actually write policies, ‘turning the system inside output.

It relies on the support of a group of stakeholders, made up of government, business, and public service representatives. The process consists of a panel of citizens working collaboratively and deliberatively with experts and stakeholders to develop a policy together over the course of many days.

Central to this approach, and in a departure from previous mini-public approaches is that the process is entirely non-partisan and independent from government, and the policy issue is identified and developed by citizens.

The approach is non-partisan and led by citizens and experts working together to set the agenda and develop a policy. The aim of this approach is to develop long-term policy solutions to complex problems that are not the domain of party politics and not subject to the short-termism of electoral campaign promises.

The first People’s Policy on child wellbeing was timed to be introduced to political parties in the run-up to the state elections in March 2018, to provide an antidote to this. 

The end policy was presented to all political parties and all parties are invited to meet with panel members and adopt the policy in whole or in part.

Reports / Outcomes / Influence

The final People’s Policy can be found here

Final People’s Policy Report

"This process represents a step change in our democracy. This process turns government on its head – and puts everyday South Australians in control.” “Election policies quite often represent what politicians think will be attractive to win a small number of voters in marginal seats – not always what is important to the long-term future of our State and or the needs of South Australians.” “Unlike normal election policy processes, this process will involve all South Australians with an interest and will be conducted in a transparent manner"
Ross Womersley, CEO of the SA Council of Social Services
Related Project Media​

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