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.

Time

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!

Commitment

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.

Our Organisational Values

We are a value driven organisation. Our values underpin and drive all that we do. They 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 believe in and respect everyone (humanism)

Irrespective of people’s views and values, everyone is important, and every perspective needs to be heard and understood.  Understanding people’s diverse views and perspectives enables people to find common ground – a place where the vast majority of people can ‘live’ with the way forward. Unity means finding common ground – not winning people to your side.

People are smart. Everyone brings different insights and perspectives based on their own lived experience, knowledge, and skills. People, irrespective of their experiences or knowledge can grapple with complexity and can work with others to develop common sense solutions. We know this from our experience working with tens of thousands of people over our combined 50+ years of engagement experience.

We believe in the principles of democracy

Underpinning the notion of democracy is equality. Everyone should have a voice and access to avenues to have their voice heard. Democracies are stronger and more trusted where citizens can raise their voices and be involved in decisions which impact their lives.

Equally citizens need to take the opportunities provided and or create the conditions in which their voices can be meaningfully heard. All citizens have a responsibility to participate in their democracy – this is our individual responsibility, to upholding our system of governance. Our obligation ….!

We value science, and the importance of evidence to decision making

In a world that is becoming increasingly described as ‘post truth’ – we believe the only way forward is to focus on science and evidence. At all times we seek truth through critical analysis of science, research and importantly by listening to those affected.

We run processes which seek to enable the community to be curious and critically analyse all perspectives. Our work seeks to help communities understand the truth. It is through this exploration that communities can understand the problem and find solutions which the vast majority can ‘live with’.  To better enable this outcome, we promote the importance of transparency.

We believe in importance of good process

Good decision making based on sound evidence doesn’t just happen. Good decision making, good policy is a consequence of good process.

We create environments where dialogue and deliberation can flourish. Like building a bridge – designing effective engagement processes that support good decision making – requires considered planning, a clear understanding of the objectives and the context.

We are neutral and apolitical. We pursue consensus.

As citizens of our planet, we are all guardians of our world.

It is our duty to respect those who have come before us and to act in the best interests of future generations

We exist on the lands of our ancestors – the first nations people and we need to protect our planet for our children. This is our legacy.

Benefits

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).

Agreement

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.

Activation

More activated communities.

Innovative Ideas

Development of innovative ideas.

"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.

democracyCo’s work is undertaken on the lands of Australia’s First Nations People.

For millennia, you as the ancestors have been guardians of this Country and we deeply respect and acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging.

As we collaborate together, democracyCo will look to Australia’s First Nations people, the world’s oldest living culture, for guidance that will help sustain our connection to Country and inform the work that we do to bring people together.

Our work is in service to Reconciliation and to moving forward together.

We acknowledge that we have much work to do.