Sharing Problems and Sharing Solutions
People support the systems they help to create!
Participation in our democracy is the right of every citizen in Australia and also an obligation.
Democracies succeed where citizens take an interest, stay informed and get involved.
Sadly, most citizens are only offered the chance to participate at elections and the experience is rarely inspiring or mobilising. Unlocking opportunities for more people to participate in the work of government is complex, challenging and exciting.
Discussion or deliberation is a natural part of being human. All societies, since the beginning of time have practiced this seemingly lost art – sitting together and allowing time and space for thoughtful consideration of issues. By committing to inclusion and carefully considering ideas, communities have survived for generations and modelled near perfect examples of true deliberation.
Sadly we don’t allow time to deliberate: governments are trapped in limited election cycles, we have much larger populations, the media is circling, time is precious, life is frantic.
We believe that there is now the need, and the opportunity to invest heavily in enabling deep exploration of issues. We work with communities to find a way for them to come together, think, listen and create solutions that can, over time, change the dynamic for the better.
What we know is that people support the systems they help to create and will strive to make these systems work. When people are invited to participate and have time and resources to deliberate they are a lot more likely to support reform for the greater good, even if it comes at a personal financial cost. We also know that when people participate in a public arena, they are much more likely to ‘invest, spend or take cuts’ than they are in the privacy of their own homes where universalism can easily be forgotten.
At democracyCo we are committed to bringing people together, face to face. Our belief is that the virtual world provides a wonderful supplementary resource for deliberation, however for people to ‘come on the journey with you’ they must see the emotion, the impacts and the consequences on other human beings. This also affords them a gentle reminder about being part of the human race, and therefore responsible for its thrivability. Our experience and also our research into human values tells us that people share the same fundamental sets of values. Deliberation is about finding ways to tap into those shared or similar value sets in order to have expansive minds, and therefore expansive public policy.
“I don’t think there’s much substitute to face to face when you’re talking about and grappling with value judgements. You have to be able to look people in the eye and say ‘I think this and this is why …‘ with the opportunity to question, gain clarity and reflect. There’s something intensely personal about it. There’s separation online – you can’t address the emotional ethical consequences of a decision.” Stakeholder
A note about online deliberation..
We have seen first-hand thousands of people contribute to topics that interest them online. Online portals (social or web based) provide a ‘never before seen’ opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life, across the globe. We love our smart devices as much as anyone!
At the end of the day though, people change when they talk, listen and look into anothers eye. Democracy is about having people ‘meet in the middle’ and be willing to accept an outcome as they were part of the process. A recent statistic captured our attention: it takes 1000 facebook posts to get a change which can be achieved in a 2 min conversation between two people who know and trust each other! And we know which approach we prefer…
We love online as a supplementary technique – but our deliberative processes will always put people in a room together.
Are you interested in how our democracy works? And want to help be part of making it work better? Register to be part of our Deliberative Army of Australians, all committed to working with government to develop public policy