Polly is our creator. She once thought that maybe she’d like to be in politics because she was so frustrated by it but found newDemocracy and realised even if she was elected she’d still be stuck in a dysfunctional system – so now she’s putting her mind to changing it. She’s a certified mediator and facilitator and ultimately believes in the power that emerges when you bring people together so they can solve things themselves.
Kyle is the brains trust here. A walking political barometer, he spends his time deep in blogs and weird parts of Twitter where they talk about electoral map redistributions, forecasting and sometimes football. Ask him about synthetic freedom if you want to really open the can of worms. He would probably be nerding on policy somewhere but chanced upon newDemocracy fresh out of Uni and now firmly believes Citizens’ Assemblies are the future.
Claudia Chwalisz leads the OECD’s work on innovative citizen participation, which explores how to bring public judgement to democracy to improve public decision making, and how to strengthen society’s democratic fitness.
Art O’Leary was Secretary General to the President of Ireland and designed and ran the 2012 Irish Constitutional Convention. That project blended MPs and citizens together in one assembly which led politicians to understand and trust the process – resulting in the ongoing use of the method in Ireland for major issues.
Elizabeth Proust is one of Australia’s most respected business leaders – Chairman of Cuscal, non-executive director of Lendlease and Chairman of SuperFriend. Notably, Elizabeth was one of the first to comment (years ago!) on the need for Australia to do democracy better.
The newDemocracy Foundation is kind of like our loving parent. They look after us, nurture us and essentially fund our life. They’re also a charity founded to research and develop democratic innovations. They operate Citizens’ Assemblies of the highest quality (don’t believe us, ask the OECD) and they also do stacks of research.
What’s the plan?
Our first step is to continue running more Citizens’ Assemblies on complex topics politics traditionally struggles to tackle, like climate change, housing, Indigenous recognition, and tax reform. This will help raise awareness of a better way to make decisions in our country.
Next, we’re going to work towards Parliaments and Councils putting in permanent review bodies made up of everyday people either at the Committee level (State and Federal) or as a cornerstone of community engagement (local government).
Finally, we are working towards permanence. We’d like to see the introduction of structural changes that embed deliberative processes into Parliament as a complementary method to making political decisions.
And, how exactly will
We know that there are plenty of people in this country who are fed up with politics and want change. While more and more politicians are interested in reforms, they don’t think people care. We need to prove that they do.
We’re building a large group of support (signatures) and targeting specific electorates to reach the MPs that we know have influence. We’ll use this public support and speak with these MPs to demonstrate that there is a better way.
We’re already providing proof of the success of Citizens’ Assemblies through the projects that we’re been operating across all levels of government on complex topics like Sydney’s lock-out laws, the 10-Year Financial Plan for the City of Melbourne, and Housing Choices in the ACT.
The change is coming.