About democracyCo

Australia's leading deliberative democracy organisation - we work with governments, corporates and other organisations who need to find solutions to complex problems and create a social licence for change, together!

At the core of our approach is a form of political inquiry known as deliberative democracy. 

Deliberative democracy is concerned with improving collective decision-making. It emphasises the right, opportunity, and capacity of anyone who is subject to a collective decision to participate (or have their representatives participate) in consequential deliberation about that decision

"I had the pleasure of working with Emma and Emily and I found them (the two Em's!) to be passionate, empathetic, organised and experienced, dynamic and flexible - with a deep personal committment to giving people the opportunity to provide input into Government policy and decision making.."
Senior Advisor in the Office of the Minister for Sustainability, Conservation and the Environment, SA 2016

The 6 Elements of Deliberative Democracy

There are 6 key elements to deliberative democracy – which when used in combination support successful sustainable policy development. democracyCo are deliberative democracy experts and can support you to design and deliver democratic engagement which incorporate all of these elements. 


Form follows function

Be clear about what you want to achieve, who you need to involve and seek to deeply understand the context in which you will be engaging. This will enable you to design a process that squarely addresses your organisational needs and responds to needs of those you need to engage.


Go slow to go fast. When you are addressing complex issues, it takes time. Start slow at the start to go fast at the end, and start together! You can’t ‘bring people along’ if you only involve them at the end!


Without having an upfront commitment that their work will go somewhere, citizens’ and stakeholders simply won’t turn up! Be clear about the influence the work will have on the final decision.

Seek diversity

Access the ‘spectrum of views.’ Get beyond the squeaky wheels and those already engaged - ensure all impacts and consequences are considered and understood. Ensure that the ‘middle’ has an opportunity to contribute as well as those with strong views.

Build understanding

Support people to interrogate information critically and alert people to the biases they bring. Use values and framing exercises which support people to understand why they understand something in one way (potentially different to another) and design processes which enable discourse with high levels of participation, content, and respect toward others and opposing opinions.

Reconcile disparate views

Provide information that people can critically analyse and interrogate. Start from an open question or problem, so people can have room to move toward a constructive, rational conversation. Promote a variety of ways for all people to actively participate in their decision-making processes.


There are many benefits to using a deliberative democratic approach

Good Decisions

A greater likelihood of a good decision (because citizens do a more adequate job of canvassing the facts and values that ought to guide the decision).


A greater likelihood of mutual understanding and consensus among citizens.

Better Solutions

More enduring solutions as people are brought on the journey of policy development.


More activated communities.

Innovative Ideas

Development of innovative ideas.

Our Organisational Values

We are a value driven organisation. Our values underpin and drive all that we do. The form the basis of our work. We won’t work on projects where these values are compromised.

We view this as critical to our organisation and critical to building trust in our processes.

We are transparent – we design our processes to be as open and transparent as possible. We are selective about the projects on which we work; a key determining factor is the extent to which people and teams are prepared to be transparent.

We are collaborative – we know that policy making will be better and more sustainable if it’s done collaboratively, meaningfully involving citizens, key stakeholders and government agencies – and supporting them to work together. 

We model respect – citizens are smart and collective groups of citizens are as able, if not more able, to develop good policy responses to complex issues as anybody else.  When individuals have the information and time required to consider problems, weigh up options and time to work together they develop innovative and through policy solutions. 

We are independent and we promote independence – We provide independent advice and independent reports. We promote the independence of the groups we work with and support them to provide the information they need.

We are citizen centred – we design all of our processes for everyday citizens. They are accessible, enjoyable and also ‘stretching’.  We know that when we design for citizens, our processes will deliver what they need to. We also want people to enjoy this way of working and to give people experiences that they might not get through other processes.

At democracyCo we  have a reputation for being tireless in our commitment to the above principles. This means that our work is often complex; and needs to balance many competing interests. Our adherence to these principles is what makes us love the work that we do.

"Together [Emma and Emily] coached and led a truly deliberative process that not only allowed citizens' to deeply consider a very complex issue but allowed Government to forge stronger partnerships with stakeholders at all levels. These partnerships are holding us in good stead as we move towards pushing these reforms through Parliament with unprecedented wide support from stakeholders and community "
Senior Adviser, Office of the Minister for Sustainability, Conservation and the Environment, SA

Get Involved

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, all committed to working with government to develop public policy.