The Dangar Island League committee has been collaborating with the Brooklyn Community Association since September 2020 to research and promote collaborative and inclusive processes on community consultation and engagement. Together both groups have been in discussions with Hornsby Council on how to provide a circuit breaker to divisive views between our communities.
Consequently, in a few weeks and as part of Stage 1 of the Brooklyn Place Plan, Hornsby Council will be engaging all residents of Brooklyn and Dangar Island in a survey which aims to identify a vision, guiding principles and actions for the Brooklyn Place Plan.
Below is a summary of the latest advice received from the new Democracy Foundation and Gauge Consulting on how Citizen Assemblies are selected.
Summary of Selection Process for Citizen Assemblies
Advice from Scott Newton Gauge Consulting and Kyle Redman newDemocracy Foundation
to Dangar Island League and Brooklyn Community Association, 2021
Recruitment of Citizen Assemblies
Recruitment is done by an independent party.
1. First step is to settle on what the make-up of the group will be. To do this the census profile of the area is used to map the demographics of gender, age, education and geography to a 32-person assembly. The aim is for a descriptively representative mix of people (no questions about views or perspectives) with a mix of experience. The steering committee would be consulted on this if needed.
2. Second step is to send out invitations, to invite everyone eligible to be a part of the process. A generous RSVP window is provided to ensure people have time to make arrangements should they need to juggle appointments to participate. Anyone registering will complete their own form that details their personal demographic information.
3. Third step is to conduct a democratic lottery (otherwise known as a stratified random selection), that will randomly draw participants until there is an eligible assembly (all the demographics are filled, no two members come from the same household, everyone selected received an invite).
4. Fourth step is to then double check that everyone is still able to make the set dates and confirm their spot in the assembly.
The ultimate goal is that the wider community feels the group is representative and fair.
The Citizens Assembly is an assembly of citizens who will evaluate evidence and give recommendations, not a committee of representatives invited to give their perspectives. It is like a criminal jury, with evidence coming in to the jury from multiple experts and stakeholders, which the jury weighs up and deliberates on to come to its recommendation.
Difference between Citizen Assembly and Steering Committee
The steering committee is of key stakeholders (including interested local businesses) and community reps (including Community Associations). The steering committee will co-design a briefing pack for the Citizen Assembly and agree on who will present a range of views to the assembly during their deliberations (which might include fishermen/women and other interest groups). The Citizens Assembly may also ask to hear from other interest groups throughout the process.
Nomination to the steering committee would be from key stakeholders such as local groups (the aim is to have all the views represented, everyone inside the tent). The steering committee works together to ensure the citizens are given every opportunity to hear a diversity of views on the issue but they do not play a role in picking or nominating citizen participants.
It’s important that a diversity of interests are represented through information and speakers. Members of the steering committee have opportunities to contribute to the information booklet that will be the baseline set of information for participants. The steering committee is also able to nominate some initial speakers to present a range of views to the assembly.