We work to stay connected and informed about the policies and focus of government, while using our active community networks to inform the approaches we use. Our networks are broad and deep, and we are committed to being part of a movement which sees government and community sharing power and decision making. This team and this venture offers a new approach to deliberative democracy. For the public sector, this is a ‘new’ agenda which offers lots of promise but also lots of questions.
democracyCo offers a localised, skilled and professional approach - and we bring together specialist teams for the projects we work on.
Emma Lawson - Co CEO
Emma Lawson is a policy and community engagement expert. She has worked at the highest echelons of the Public Service in SA and abroad. She offers an unparalleled understanding of the workings and challenges of government as well as extensive networks. Between 2010-2014 Emma headed up the Government’s centre for community engagement– the Participation and Partnerships team.
Under Emma’s leadership the team was recognised by the United Nations, receiving a second placing in the category "Fostering participation in policy making through innovative mechanisms". Her team also received an award from IAP2 International for best practice community engagement and a commendation from the Future Gov 2.0 awards for leading use of social media by government in Asia Pacific and was recognised nationally for the best open data initiative ‘Unleashed’.
She led the development of a policy called “Better Together” which acts as a guide for public servants in the State government on how to effectively and successfully engage the community. Emma was a political adviser to the State Government in SA between 2005 and 2007. She also worked for the Upper House of Parliament in NSW running parliamentary inquiries, in the United Kingdom for the National Health Service and headed up a policy team within Cabinet Office negotiating agreements with the Federal Government in the areas of education, training, housing and Aboriginal affairs.
Emily Jenke - Co CEO
Emily Jenke is one of Australia’s most skilled engagement practitioners and an accomplished and talented facilitator of nearly 20 years. Emily enjoys a long term and trusted role with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, having worked with them on their flagship engagement and democracy initiatives since 2010. In the last 12 months Emily has run 4 separate Citizens' Juries in SA (including the Safe Sharing of Roads Jury), and over her career spanning 18 years, has worked on many deliberative approaches at state, federal and local government level.
Emily is highly regarded as a specialist in deliberative practice by her clients and peers and before creating democracyCo ran a thriving business in SA in this field. Emily also offers networks across Australian and internationally. Emily has an interest in the environment and for the last 8 years has sat on the SA Murray Darling NRM Board where she has driven an agenda equipping the board to put community at the centre of decision making. Emily is now the Presiding Member of the SA Native Vegetation Council and also runs a distinct and widely known boutique food business Talinga Grove with her family (husband Paul and three great kids) on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula.
We are delighted to welcome the lovely Ilka to our team! Ilka brings a strong track record in developing and executing strategy and contributing to public policy. She has significant experience in community development and capacity building in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, connecting and collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders (community members and organisations, business, faith groups, philanthropists, academics and others) to build consensus and collective action.
Most recently Ilka has been working in the United States, supporting diverse communities across the US working collectively to disrupt inter-generational poverty and double the number of children reading at grade level by 2020 through the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a major national initiative backed by the White House.
Previously Ilka, with colleagues, supported community organizations in South Australia to better focus their programs and funding towards measurable results for people and communities through the reform of the Families and Community Development program (with DCSI) and led the initial development of Together South Australia, a partnership of Government, community and business organizations working in new ways with communities to improve health, income, education, child welfare and other indicators using a collective impact approach.
Our team is strengthened by other enormously talented people, who importantly share our philosophy. This team means that we can offer you a raft of extra wisdom and expertise.
Viv is an incredible asset to our team and when she's not working with us runs her own successful consultancy business Participation Plus.
Working across government and private industry Vivienne has delivered strategic community engagement programs with innovative approaches to building and maintaining stakeholder relationships, reputation and risk management, community group liaison and public participation in the pursuit of resolving developmental, environmental, health and safety issues.
With BHP Billiton over 5 years Vivienne was responsible for developing and implementing community engagement policies, and liaison with a range of stakeholder groups including mining, pastoral and Aboriginal communities. She delivered successful engagement and communications programs including establishing community consultative groups, community perception surveys and community funding programs.
At the State Government’s Renewal SA agency Vivienne developed and delivered innovative engagement programs for major urban renewal projects including the Riverbank and renewal of the former RAH site. She facilitated the monthly community reference group for the highly successful Bowden project for four years from its establishment.
More recently working in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet SA, Vivienne provided strategic advice to and delivery of, a range of public participation programs and was the department’s coordinator of the highly successful Citizens’ Jury on Sharing the Roads Safely 2014. This role included coordination and liaison with the Core Reference Group and government stakeholder group, jury management logistics and official reporting.
Not many people who work in deliberative democracy have been jurors, but Mel was a juror in the 2014 South Australian 'Sharing the Roads Safely' Jury - randomly selected we stumbled upon this brilliant facilitator!
Mel is a collaborator and a passionate believer in community, both in her personal life and in her work life and has 20 years experience in the not for profit and public sectors in the UK & Australia. She has held organisational development roles to lead capability-building, service design & innovation management in community-based organisations, aged care, youth, health, government and the volunteering sector and is currently running her own consultancy to build the capacity of communities and organisations in SA to respond to the needs of the people they serve in ways that add real value and support effective people-centred change processes. Mel has extensive experience in facilitation, strategic planning and training delivery with Boards, senior executive teams and local communities and is a certified PROSCI Change Manager, has postgraduate qualifications in Equality & Discrimination Studies & Journalism and certification in Volunteers’ management.
Most recently, Mel has worked at The Australian Centre for Social Innovation working with a regional South Australian community to improve outcomes for children and supporting the Disability Sector to respond to the opportunities of NDIS. She continues to support their work as an Associate.
Over the years Mel has worked extensively in the ageing sector and has a personal passion to see the stereotypes and assumed norms of ageing be disrupted and replaced with new versions of growing older. Alongside the work she gets paid for, she is exploring ways to make this happen with like-minded partners. Mel is actively involved in her local community in the western suburbs of Adelaide and co-hosts a story-telling night in Adelaide called Tenx9 (www.tenx9.com/adelaide).
The Deliberative Collective
We work with a group of leaders in South Australia who are also interested in promoting better deliberative practice. We work closely with the members of the Deliberative Collective to explore how best to illuminate this area of work widely and broadly. Our wonderful Deliberative Collective members include: