Citizens Jury, Compulsory Third Party Insurance, Canberra, Australia
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
All cars on Australian roads must have compulsory insurance (CTP). In the ACT, this insurance was expensive, coverage limited, and most claims needed to be settled in the courts. democracyCo designed and delivered a Citizens’ Jury and extensive stakeholder engagement process to develop a improve the scheme. Over 7 months 50 Canberrans worked with a group of stakeholders to design the improved scheme, which the Government committed to implement.
Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) exists in all Australian jurisdictions to provide compensation for people injured or killed when their vehicle is involved in an accident.
The design and implementation of CTP schemes is technically complex (it has to balance premiums, benefits and equity). It involves strong vested interests (influential stakeholders - many with a significant financial stake in the system, and with competing priorities). As an issue it generally has low community interest, until an accident occurs, insurance is needed or if coverage is prohibitively high. In addition, the cost of the ACT scheme was high and there was considerable confusion about the system.
For all these reasons the CTP ‘problem’ in the ACT was by no means an easy issue to address.
The ACT Government felt that the best way to solve the problem was to empower the community and to involve community and stakeholders in developing a solution.
As a consequence, they engaged (us) democracyCo to design, and deliver a process to enable stakeholders and the community to develop a new CTP scheme.
Our advice, was adopted and implemented in full.
We designed a citizens’ jury process that had 3 phases and ran over 7 months.
1. A representative group (selected through a random selection process) of everyday residents of the ACT (the CTP Jury) determined what they wanted the objectives of an improved CTP scheme to be (with input from the broader community) and wrote a report outlining their objectives.
2. The stakeholders worked with government, an independent Actuary and Scheme Designer to develop four models that met the objectives the citizens had outlined and were within the parameters set by government.
3. The CTP Jury met again to assess which of the models best met their original objectives and provided their decision to the government.
The Citizens’ Jury resulted in a well-developed, community designed insurance model ready for legislative development.
The process had a number of key innovative elements;
1) That ACT Chief Minister and the government commited, at the beginning of the process (before they knew what the community and stakeholders would come up with), to pursue implementation of the model the community chose. In effect the government was empowering the community completely with the full extent of its own power.
2) Integration of stakeholder and community involvement. The process brought stakeholders and community together in a way that rarely happens. Stakeholders played an important role in helping community to understand the breadth of the issues and helped inform them about the existing scheme. The community used this knowledge, along with the information provided by experts (that they selected) to help them define the type of scheme they wanted – the outcomes they wanted from the scheme and the values that would underpin it. This effectively became the brief for the stakeholders to work with government, a scheme actuary and a scheme designer to develop a range of models which would go back to the community for them to decide which best met their original brief.
3) Collaborative / Co-design approach undertaken with stakeholders – the way in which stakeholders with polarised positions came together to develop an improved scheme.
4) Started from a blank slate. The government didn’t propose or suggest a starting point for the conversation. They put a couple of ‘parameters’ around the work – the most important of which was that the scheme that the community chose couldn’t cost citizens any more than the existing scheme.
5) Broadness of the community involved – it is important to note that all interested people in the ACT were able to contribute to the process and assist the work of the 50 Jurors through a supplementary consultation process.
6) Belief in citizens and stakeholders – the government trusted and respected the skills, knowledge and expertise of the community and the stakeholders alike. The government genuinely valued the input that community and stakeholders could bring and authetically worked to bring a voice to all.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
When has a government ever committed to implement a policy developed by the community and stakeholders with an interest in the topic before knowing what they will come up with? When has a government trusted the community and stakeholders as much as this, to make such a strong committment to pursue their preferred approach at the outset?
The strategy of engagement developed for the reform of the ACT CTP scheme required this commitment up front; before the participants had been chosen, and before any work had commenced. To our knowledge this is the first time this has ever occurred in Australia.
How often do government, stakeholders and community come together to develop substantial new policy? This process represents a step change in how democratic governments could work. It flipped current power dynamics – putting citizens at the centre supported by stakeholders and government. This process represents a workable new approach to building trust in democracy.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Since the Citizens’ Jury completed its work in March 2018, work has been underway by the government to draft legislation which puts the Jury’s chosen model into practice and gives life to its recommendations.
The Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate of the ACT Government has recently briefed jurors on the draft legislation and has publically released an Exposure Draft of the Motor Accident Injuries Bill 2018.
This has been referred to Committee for further community consultation.
The government will introduse the final Bill to the ACT Legislative Assembly and it will be debated under normal parliamentary processes. Once legislated the Government and Stakeholders will move to implementation.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The ACT Government commissioned the Jury and engaged democracyCo. A key part of the strategy was the creation of a Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) which included key stakeholders including government who would all be impacted by any changes. This group had a key role in ensuring the Jury received balanced evidence, the facilitation design was fair, and also provided input into the final models for the Jury to choose from. This group met for 7 months, before, during and after the Jury.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
All 290,000 Canberrans that register their vehicles are impacted and will be users and potential beneficiaries of the CTP scheme - as it covers pedestrians, road users, and passengers of vehicles. CTP has a relatively small but influential group of stakeholders in the ACT - most of which were included on the SRG: The Bar Society, The ACT Law Association, Suncorp Insurance, NRMA Insurance, Health Care Consumer Representative and a Rehabilitation Medical Expert from the University of Sydney.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The work of the Jury is the basis for propsed legislation in the ACT. At the end of the process, we surveyed all jurors: 81% felt confident that the government would implement the CTP model they chose; 81% felt the process we ran was neutral; 88% felt the process was fair/transparent. Many Jurors reported that the process brought considerable benefits to their lives (confidence, improved knowledge, political insight, new friends, policy writing skills) and; 88% of Jurors reported that they would like to participate in a citizens’ jury process again. One juror said “[my] only concern is that governments will not embrace this innovative form of inclusion.” SRG members reported that they felt that the process was effective in; enabling the development of CTP models; enabling deliberation on key elements of the models and; understanding the perspectives of different stakeholders. Most reported being sceptical about the Jury before they started but are now converts to the approach.
Challenges and Failures
Given the high stakes of this process to all citizens of the ACT, media interest was high, but reporting was generally incomplete and not always accurate. A community group called the ‘Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy’ (CAPaD) complied an independent report of the media reporting. They noted that "media reporting was less than comprehensive. Reading the coverage it was very difficult to understand what the process of the citizens’ jury was and how the jury undertook its deliberations & the role of the SRG. .. Voices defending the process were left to the end of overwhelmingly critical articles. Overall, there seems to have been a lack of vocal advocates for the citizens’ jury process. Reporting at the end of the process was noticeably more positive, particularly in the way that it gave voice to the positive experiences of jurors".
Conditions for Success
The strategy & delivery of this Citizens Jury modelled global best practice deliberative democracy elements. These elements are essential to success & are always used by democracyCo:
- Transparency - The process was open and transparent to anyone who wanted to view any aspect of it.
- Collaboration - citizens worked with stakeholders to become as knowledgeable as possible before they made their decision.
- Respect - supporting citizens to succeed as a jury requires a government that respects them and provides them with authority, and access to the information and evidence they need.
- Independance - participants were supported to seek their own information & advice and come to their own conclusions without coercion or undue influence.
- Influential - The ACT Government made a promise at the outset to pursue the model the jury chose.
- Community interest – the process involved and included many hundreds of Canberrans through a comprehensive consultation process.
These processes (when done properly) can be used to make decisions on controversial, impassable issues; they can support reform; they can share the role of policy making to ensure it's done in the public interest and; they can be used to undertake budgeting activities. These processes can transform the way governments and their publics connect which in turn will ensure public policy making is relevant and enduring. democracyCo has conducted Citizens' Juries and other deliberative processes over many years to:
- create new road rules for how cars and bicycles can share the road safely
- create a new suite of laws that govern how dogs and cats are managed
- to determine if a state government should store and dispose of the worlds nuclear waste
- to identify principles which determine how electricity pricing is undertaken.
- make decisions on what community services should be funded, and by how much
Juries are being used more widely globally to great effect to unlock citizen power.
This project has proven that citizens are entirely capable of undertaking public policy reform in a technically complex area. We know that everyday people are smart, and we know that they know what they need – however governments often either disregard this, or don’t know how to tap into it. A citizens’ jury model provides one of the best ways to bring citizens into otherwise ‘exclusive’ government processes of policy and law making in an active and productive way. Juries also enable stakeholders to play important, meaningful roles in policy making and the work of government.
During this process we had the opportunity to work with a government team who recognised and respected the independence of our role, letting the process occur without seeking to control or inappropriately influence. Their support for the process in terms of information and evidence provision to the Jury was outstanding and they were completely committed to honouring the citizen-led process.
In terms of the process, in hindsight, we could have involved Jurors in the SRG process as observers – so they could have an appreciation of the work and complexity that the SRG members worked through. This would have enabled full citizen transparency across every aspect of the process and would have further improved trust and respect of all people involved in the project. One of the greatest strengths of this process was the involvement and commitment from stakeholders, who very rarely see ‘eye to eye’ and are not offered the opportunity to collaborate and co-design together. Having the jurors see them collaborating in this way would be been an enormous benefit.
Western democracies are suffering from a backlash from those who feel disenfranchised from the decision-making process. The impact of this can be seen in the rapidly declining levels of trust in our institutions - Brexit in the UK, Trump in the US. The 2017 Trust Barometer by Edelman has documented a global collapse of trust. One in two countries believe the entire system is failing. One of the flow-on impacts is that the reforms we desperately need in the short and long term just aren’t being made for fear of political backlash. There is a desperate need to do something radically different or have our democratic systems suffer from more of the same inertia. There is a need to find a way to transform the voice of ordinary people. Juries offer a way create sustainable solutions to wicked, complex problems; a solution that empowers the community, connects the diverse interests of individuals and organisations, and gives the government real, evidence-based solutions that improve lives.