1 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond - Case Study (Draft) - Prof. Janette Hartz-Karp Chapter on transferability to Germany: Christina Tillmann
2 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 2 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Contact: Frank Frick Director Reinhard Mohn Prize 2011 Bertelsmann Stiftung Phone Fax Christina Tillmann Project Manager Reinhard Mohn Prize 2011 Bertelsmann Stiftung Phone Fax
3 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 3 Index 1. Executive Summary 4 2. General Background 4 Country 4 Region/City: The Greater Geraldton City-Region 5 3. Background and Purpose of the Project/Program 6 Background 6 Purposes of this Initiative 6 4. Structure, Process and Activities 7 Process 7 Structure 8 Process, Activities and Outcomes 9 5. Outcome and Impact 12 Influence on Political Decisions 12 Achievements in Policy Area/Project Targets 13 Number of Participants, Representativeness, Inclusion 13 Impact on Democratic Capacities: Structural and Cultural Evaluation of the Project Challenges and Lessons Learned 14 Evaluation of the 2029 Initiative thus far 14 Challenges for the Future 15 Lessons Learned Next Steps and Visions for the Future 16 Continuity of the Project 16 Further Procedures and Plans Transferability to Germany 17
4 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 4 1. Executive Summary Geraldton 2029 is a long-term initiative to improve sustainability in the Greater Geraldton City Region of Western Australia by implementing a form of participative governance called deliberative democracy as a way of life. This involves the community ordinary citizens, all levels of government, industry and the non-government sector learning and undertaking new ways of cooperative problem solving and collaborative decision-making. The initiative is led by the City of Geraldton-Greenough and includes a 3-year action research project with Curtin University to find, document and evaluate innovative ways to reach for sustainability through deliberative democracy and social media. It commenced with the implementation of a new form of participatory governance, the Alliance Governance Group (community, industry and government), that oversees the initiative as well as prioritises and supports deliberated proposals. Strong alliances were formed with the media, in particular the widely read local newspaper, to foster informed dialogue and involvement, with the newspaper s Facebook page becoming a key element. Indigenous and multicultural groups are also a key focus of the deliberation processes. A series of public deliberation techniques have been implemented, each building on the other to broaden participation, encourage egalitarian deliberation and ensure the results influence policy and decision-making. Starting with a grassroots approach, an advertisement for Community Champions elicited around 40 volunteers who were trained in deliberative techniques and organised and facilitated community conversations that matter. Deliberated proposals that arose were prioritised and are now being implemented. This collaborative decision-making process is also occurring with proposals developed through online deliberation using an innovative platform, CivicEvolution. The website offers additional opportunities for community participation. A large-scale random sample survey was held followed by a deliberative forum, to determine the top-of-the-mind as well as considered views of the community on two divisive and challenging issues it currently faces. The results have enabled the decision-makers to take more far-reaching steps towards sustainable practice than they had previously envisaged. In 2011, collaborative strategic and urban plans will be developed and aligned with the City s budget, with preliminary steps taken towards participatory budgeting. By the 3 rd year of the initiative, it is hoped that inclusive, influential deliberation will start to become the expected way of dealing with key issues and decisions that face the community. 2. General Background Country Country and History Australia, the world's sixth-largest country, is a vast island continent. The interior of the country is mostly flat, barren and sparsely populated, with 80% of the people living on the narrow, fertile eastern coastal plain and the south west coast. The current Australian population is over 22 million, mostly made up of numerous waves of immigration from 200 countries, including around 2.5 million from Europe (with the latest Census in 2006 recording 106,520 German-born people in Australia). Approximately 2.5% of the population are Indigenous Australians, who arrived 40,000 to 70,000 years ago. Europeans first landed in 1606, though it took until 1788 for British settlement to really begin. Australian became a federal democracy in Relations with Indigenous people have been fraught from the outset, with Aborigines remaining
5 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 5 disproportionately disadvantaged. The right of all Aboriginal people to vote in Australian Commonwealth elections was not recognised until 1962, and it took until 1992 to achieve legal recognition of the prior ownership of Australia by Aboriginal groups. Socio-Economic Status Despite its relatively small population, Australia has the 14 th biggest economy in the world. Its GDP is approximately $1.3 trillion USD, dominated by its service sector, with agriculture and mining accounting for 57% of the national exports. Australia fared better than most during the global financial crisis. Current unemployment is low at 5.2%, with concerns about skills shortages, largely due to the Chinese demand for minerals and energy. Indigenous Australians, however, remain significantly disadvantaged on virtually all socio-economic indicators - despite varied government interventions. Political Situation Australia is one of the world s oldest continuing democracies. The 3-tier system of government (Federal, State and local) government is based on the liberal democratic tradition, which includes religious tolerance and freedom of speech and association. Australia has an adaptive political system, which takes elements from both the British and American models but is uniquely Australian. A number of democratic innovations originated in Australia, for example the secret ballot in 1856, and in 1894, South Australia was the second democratic government in the world to grant women s suffrage. Australia is a Federation and although legally distinct, retains the British monarchy. It is also one of the few countries in the world with compulsory voting for State and Federal elections not voting results in a fine. As a result, the voting rate has always been well over 90%. However, within Western Australia, local government elections are not compulsory and voting rates at local elections average around 30%. The 2010 Federal election resulted in a hung parliament with Labor forming Government, supported by the Greens, and 3 Independent Members of Parliament. This election, more than any other, pointed to the disaffection of most Australian people with the major political parties. Like many western countries, Australia suffers from a democratic deficit, where ordinary people feel disconnected from politics, disinterested and cynical about taking an active role in governance, and distrustful of politicians. Although government agencies are often required by regulation to consult with the community on planning issues, this is frequently done in a precursory way. Citizens feel increasingly alienated from the institutions of government, and officials in turn, feel that the general public is disinterested, misinformed or self-interested. The Geraldton 2029 initiative was developed as a response to this general political malaise. Region/City: The Greater Geraldton City-Region This initiative is in Western Australia (WA), which comprises one-third of Australia s landmass but has a relatively small population of less than 2.5 million. Most people live in the capital city, Perth, and the more fertile south-western corner of the State. Away from the coast, most of WA is a huge undeveloped stretch of outback. The Greater Geraldton City-Region is located 424 kilometres north of Perth. Its hub is Geraldton, a port city, known as the capital of the Mid West, and sometimes the lobster capital of the world. The City-Region has a population of around 40,000, out of a total of 53,000 living in the larger Mid West Region. Although fishing and agriculture (wheat and wool) were the traditional economic backbone of the region s economy, with collapsing fish stocks and draught, both these industries have recently
6 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 6 been in decline. On the other hand, the mining industry has been booming. High technology developments and alternative energy opportunities are on the horizon. As a result, the City-Region is poised to develop significantly, with the prediction of 80, ,000 residents by and a population capacity estimated at 230,000. However not all residents support such growth and the changes it will bring, preferring to retain the country feel and lifestyle and the status quo. While changes will undoubtedly occur despite the best-made plans, the City-Region has determined it must improve its resilience and become more sustainable, not just for the current population but for future generations. The community is currently at crossroads as to how to achieve this. 3. Background and Purpose of the Project/Program Background The government of the Greater Geraldton City-Region has decided that it must plan for the future in order to make the region more resilient and sustainable. To achieve this will require the people of the region to help determine the opportunities to take and cooperatively respond to the challenges the future will bring. Meaningfully involving the people in such decisions however is not easy, particularly when the issues are complex and often long-term. Moreover, like other Australians, the people in the region are distrustful of government, and civic participation is low on issues outside immediate interests. To try to find a different way to involve the people in jointly determining their future, Geraldton decided it had to do something different. The region could no longer make short-term, piecemeal decisions, often perceived to be in the interests of the wealthy rather than the common good, let alone the interests of future generations. To create a more sustainable future would require more inclusive and collaborative problem solving and decision-making. Geraldton and Curtin University - both the Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute (renowned for supporting the implementation of new forms of public participation, collaborative governance and creating sustainable cities) and the School of Media (researching innovative social media) - committed to work together to find new pathways for co-creating a more sustainable future for the region. The project that was designed as a result of this partnership was successful in achieving a prestigious, 3-year Australian Research Council grant, funding the research component; as well as another grant from the WA Lotteries Commission helping to fund the deliberations. The City is providing a significant component of the cash contribution and support for this initiative. In addition, other key WA Government partners are providing support, including the Mid West Development Corporation, the WA Department of Planning, and the WA Local Government Association. Purposes of this Initiative The aims of the imitative are diverse and branch out over the following issues: Finding ways to foster citizen interest in, understanding of, and willingness to contribute to resolving the critical, often complex issues that arise in creating a sustainable community. Pioneering new ways of collaborative decision-making between ordinary people, government, business/industry and non-government organizations (NGOs); and joint ownership of the agreed action to be taken.
7 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 7 Researching the most effective ways of in-person and online public participation to resolve complex issues. Developing and implementing sustainability plans for the Greater Geraldton City-Region that enhance government accountability and legitimacy. Bringing about ongoing attitudinal change and increasing the capacity for collaborative problem solving and decision-making, so that this becomes an expected way of governance. Pioneering and researching new ways to achieve democratic renewal. 4. Structure, Process and Activities Process The process that drives this initiative is that of participative, deliberative governance. This involves not only a high degree of community participation, but the way people participate is also important. They have diverse opportunities to take part in serious, in-depth, mutually respectful discussions, exploring and explaining their reasons for the positions they take, considering and carefully weighing options, and cooperating to arrive at decisions, which then have influence. For this to occur, existing power structures are being challenged to enable ordinary citizens to play an integral role in policy development and decision-making. The aim is to deepen democracy in ways that can lead to a more resilient community and greater sustainability. This is illustrated in the diagram opposite. Another term for this method of governance is deliberative democracy. Deliberative democracy is characterised by public deliberation that is: inclusive and representative of the demographics of the population; deliberative - taking diverse views into account, weighing the reasons for those views and selecting the best course of action consistent with those views; and influential - the outcomes of the those deliberations have an impact on policies and decisions and are seen to do so. To be relevant, this new form of democratic decision-making needs to be responsive to big issues. While on the one hand the structure, processes and activities must be planned if they are to operate within government constraints, on the other hand, they need to be continually flexible. In a complex world, it is not possible to predict when and where major problems and opportunities will arise. However, if such a process is to add value to the emergent issues that matter, it needs to be able to responsively adapt to changing situations. As a consequence, the plans for this initiative have significantly changed numerous times, even in the first year.
8 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 8 This brings into focus the important role of process design that is outside the normal structures and constraints of government, industry and community organizations. It is exceedingly difficult for large and formal institutions to be continuously flexible. Notably, previous research showed that the reason for the large number of successful deliberative democracy initiatives in Western Australia over a five-year period was the unique partnership between a decision-maker (in that instance, a State Minister) and an independent process designer (also involved in the Geraldton project). Hence, the following description is not of the initial plans for this initiative, but rather what actually happened in the first year and the last update of what is planned for the forthcoming year. Structure There are a number of interdependent teams in this project. The aim is for each group to be as autonomous and self-managing as possible. It is crucial to ensure the project does not rise or fall as a result of just one or a few key people. Instead, the objective is to seed and where needed support a number of groups with different roles, without imposing the usual hierarchical structures and technocratic silos. The key to the success of such a structure is to make certain all have the same end in mind, and operate according to the principle: be the change you want to see in the world (or practice what you preach ) by operating within deliberative democratic principles. The City Lead Team consists of the Mayor, Councillor Ian Carpenter as the Chairman of the Alliance Governance Team, the CEO Mr Tony Brun as the Project Sponsor, Director Ms Andrea Selvey as the Project Director, and the City Executive leadership group of directors as technical and operational support, with each director also leading at least one prioritised Implementation Team. The full Lead Team meets as required; the key leaders Mayor, CEO and Project Director, meet weekly or more if needed. The Design and Research Team is a partnership between Curtin University and the City. It consists of Prof Janette Hartz-Karp from CUSP, together with researchers Prof Mark Balnaves, Prof Dora Marinova, Prof Peter Newman (the lead author of the transport chapter of the new IPCC Report) and Dr Rachel Armstrong, who work in partnership with the City Lead Team, in particular Tony Brun and Andrea Selvey. Key members connect almost daily via internet and meet face-toface approximately once a month. The Alliance Governance Group is an innovative governance team of key government, industry and NGO regional decision-makers, as well as randomly selected interested local people. Its task is to provide strategic direction and accountability to the project and help determine and implement prioritised proposals. Government, industry and NGO members were elicited through invitation from the Mayor. Community members responded to advertisements in the local newspaper, and were then randomly selected through a ballot at a public Council meeting. It meets quarterly. Close Working Associations have been established with Indigenous groups: Bundiyarra (Indigenous NGO); Radio Mama (Indigenous radio); Yamaji News (Indigenous newspaper) and multicultural groups. Members of the Lead Team liaised with these groups and formed working relationships. They connect as required. A Special Media Alliance has been created with the very widely read local newspaper, particularly the editor Alex McKinnon, with the important task of enhancing the community s
9 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 9 interest in and understanding of complex issues, and improving the effectiveness of public discourse. Design and Research Team members liaised with the editor and the working relationship has developed into a close alliance. The Community Champions are a group of around 40 community people who responded to advertisements in the local newspaper, volunteering to be trained in deliberative techniques and then to organise and facilitate opportunities for public deliberation. Their task is to hold public deliberations using different techniques, facilitating serious discussion among ordinary community members about issues concerning the future of the region, and then directing the consolidated community input back to the project team for broader dissemination and consideration by the Alliance Governance Group. The group of Community Champions is regularly being renewed. They meet for training prior to each public deliberation initiative and then for a debrief following it. In addition they network regularly online. The Implementation Teams consist of government, industry and community members, chaired and supported by a City Director or Manager. When proposals developed through community deliberation have been prioritised for action by the Alliance Governance Group, City Directors are charged with the responsibility to support at least one Team, gathering the various government agencies involved in that issue, business and interested community members, to work together on how to implement it. These Teams meet face-to-face and online as need requires. The Online Deliberation/Social Media Team consists of key City IT staff, Curtin researchers and the Director of the online deliberation platform, CivicEvolution, Brian Sullivan. This Team has the task of finding innovative ways to foster and support digital deliberative democracy. The key is to integrate these efforts so they complement the face-to-face deliberation and have a clear promise of influence, bargain in terms of what each of the parties will gain from participation, and process to maximise deliberation. Innovative opportunities for social media complement this process. This team meets primarily online. University and Industry Alliances A number of university and research groups were operating independently in the region, and are now cooperating to find synergies, sharing research and findings. Similarly, industries pioneering sustainability initiatives in the region, including Parsons Brinckerhoff and Kinesis, are now collaborating with this initiative. Associates meet online and periodically, have joint workshops. It is likely that the structure of the 2029 initiative will grow and change as the need arises. The structure does not have a specified budget. All members are either volunteering their services or carrying out their paid or in-kind designated roles on the project. Process, Activities and Outcomes 2010 Project Launch: The project was officially launched on 4 th March 2010 at an evening public forum with over 300 community members who responded to advertisements in the local newspaper or through in-person outreach. Speakers included two international presenters and three community members representing different aspects of the community. The audience participated by developing questions and issues addressed to the speakers. Cost: $10,000 (EUR 7500)
10 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 10 Outcomes: A sense of excitement and hope in the community; a closer alliance with the media; and a list of community members volunteering to assist with the community engagement. Community Champions Running World Cafés: Advertisements were put in the local paper for the 40 Community Champions. After training, the Community Champions facilitated a series of World Cafés, inviting members of the community to come and explore important questions about the future of the City-Region. At a World Café, 9 or more people sit around small tables as in a café, with each person moving progressively from table to table through several rounds of conversation. A host remains at each table, helping incoming people to have deeper conversations and link ideas to create a whole-group dialogue. Participants at each table write down and/or illustrate the main points from their discussion, and these become the record of the meeting. In total, 36 World Cafes were held from May June 2010, with a total of around 400 participants. Cost: $2,000. Outcomes: An independent researcher compiled a list of potential quick wins that were prioritised by the Community Champions and the Alliance Governance Group for immediate response. Inclusive Implementation Teams are currently actioning the 8 highest priority initiatives. The quick wins document and the report of the long term visions are being incorporated into an ongoing data base of community views that can be searched by other government departments, NGOs and interested others, as well as the City in developing their strategic plans (File 1). Deliberative Survey Poll: A survey was developed together with the Alliance Governance Group to assess community views on the current challenges faced by the City-Region. It was sent to a random sample of 3,000 residents along with an invitation to attend a one-day Forum held on the 14 th August The randomly selected participants who could attend heard expert presentations from differing viewpoints and had opportunities to question and deliberate on these issues. The Forum used 21 st Century Town Meeting /Deliberation technology, with networked computers linking each small group s team and minority views to an independent team, who rapidly determined the key themes and key minority views, then displayed them on a large screen. This methodology enhanced the efficiency and efficacy of the small group deliberations. Cost: Survey - $20,000 (EUR 15000); and 21 st Century Deliberation - $40,000 (EUR 30000). Outcomes: The initial survey data provided information about the top-of-the-mind community views. The results were surprising to decision-makers, being far more supportive of local action to create a sustainable region than expected. Analysis of the survey repeated at the outset of the Forum, showed that Forum participants were representative of the larger population s views. The final post-forum survey showed the extent to which information and deliberation changed community views. In this instance, they moved further towards sustainable action (File 2). The decision-makers determined to pursue a course of action concerning future sustainability initiatives that was more farsighted and expansive than previously envisaged. Online Deliberation with the City Staff and with the Broader Community: In November 2010, the City staff were invited to pilot an innovative online deliberation platform, CivicEvolution, and a different decision-making process to ensure the outcomes of the proposals they developed would have influence. Having the staff gain experience with collaborative problem solving and decisionmaking is critical if efforts to improve the community s deliberative capacity are to be sustainable. Following the staff pilot, community members were encouraged through advertisements in the local newspaper, as well as outreach to activist groups, to post good ideas regarding sustainability, and
11 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 11 then to work online with interested others to develop them into proposals. To date, 59 staff and 82 community members are involved, with team work still in progress. Cost: Development and ongoing administration for both the staff and community - $20,000 (EUR 15000). Outcomes: The proposals signed off by at least 4 of the team members will be considered and prioritised for support and funding by the Alliance Governance Group. Staff team members and community team members may also want to proceed themselves with their initiative, which will be encouraged. (File 3). Launch of 2029 Website and Social Media: An interactive website was developed and launched in December 2010 with opportunities for the community to become more informed and engaged in co-creating sustainability. Cost: $ (EUR 15000). Outcomes: Access to a website that will increasingly encourage the community to repeatedly visit, and over time, to take greater responsibility for creating the information and engaging in activities. The site development and promotion to increase community interaction is continuing. Planned Activities for the Future Community Champions - Citizens Choicework: A Citizens Choicework document is now being developed with an independent analysis of the pros and cons of a divisive issue in the community - City growth. Community Champions will be trained during February 2011 to hold community Choicework deliberations, each with around 10+ participants. The aim is to foster a deeper community understanding of areas of common ground and important disagreements as well as the reasons for them, and to identify critical questions and concerns. All information elicited will be made available on the website database. The issues raised will be addressed in the later deliberations where an agreed way forward will be sought. Cost: $3,000 (EUR 2200). Participatory Budgeting Preliminary Phase: The elected Councillors and City-Region executive team and key managers will, for the first time, take part in joint deliberation and decisionmaking regarding the priorities for the City-Region s long term infrastructure budget. Decisionmakers will experience what they would like the community to go through in a future participatory budgeting process. The community Participatory Budgeting process (collaborative decision-making on the budget for the City-Region) will be determined at later meetings. Cost: No additional cost. Change Management within the City Administration: An action research program within the City administration is being currently developed to up-skill City staff in deliberative techniques and collaborative decision-making, and to trial new forms of collaborative problem solving and participatory governance. This two-year process is considered to be a critical element of the initiative if deliberative democracy in the community is to be sustainable in the longer term. Cost: $20,000 (EUR 15000), with additional in-kind support from Curtin University. Youth Online Involvement: With the start of the school year in February 2011, work will begin with Geraldton Senior College as a pilot school, to encourage students to take part in the online Energy Challenge a way to engage families in energy saving; as well as the CivicEvolution online deliberation platform made more amenable to youth participation. Cost: No additional cost. 21 st Century Town Hall Meeting / Deliberation Integrated with Enquiry-by-Design: A large scale 21 st Century Deliberation will be held in July 2011 to determine the direction/vision for the
12 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 12 City-Region, its values and key objectives. The output will be integrated into a revised Plan for the Future regional strategic plan. This will be followed by and integrated with an Enquiry-by-Design process, which will be held over 4-5 days to develop a preferred urban plan. This process involves a multidisciplinary expert team working in tandem with a representative community group. In an iterative format, the experts develop best practice urban designs that respond to the community s stated values and hopes, with the community selecting their preferred option by the final day. The multidisciplinary expert team will be elicited from a broad range of stakeholders. Community participants will be drawn through: a) random sampling, b) invitations to a range of stakeholder organisations and c) advertisements placed in the local newspaper, shopping centres and other meeting places. The output of the Enquiry-by-Design will be developed into a City Plan with the assistance of community representatives from the deliberation process. The Plan will be tested and revised through the development of hard material and virtual models, which will be displayed publicly and used interactively, with flags upon which people can write amendments and comments, which will then be taken into account in the final design. Cost: $50,000 (EUR 37000). Alignment of the Strategic Plan and the Budget: During September 2011, the City-Region administration will learn new techniques to more effectively align the revised Plan for the Future strategic plan with the budget. This will be the first time the City s strategic plan will have the power of the budget directly behind it. Cost: No additional cost. Community Champions - Open Space Technology: During September 2011, the Community Champions will be trained in Open Space Technology, providing opportunities for the community to collect around issues of common interest to bring into fruition the agreed Urban Plan. Open Space is based on the principle of self-organising systems, which assumes that the group will generate its own leadership, create its own agenda and find its own way. The aim is to enable the community to take greater ownership of what it is they want to create in their City. Open Space meetings will be held from October to December If requested, the outcomes will be considered for support and funding by the Alliance Governance Team. Cost: - $1,000 (EUR 750) 5. Outcome and Impact Influence on Political Decisions Each of the initiatives completed to date has resulted in an outcome of action or influence. The same is expected to occur in This is because each deliberative process involves clarification, at the outset, of: a) the promise - what influence the initiative will have; b) the bargain - what each party will gain from their involvement; and c) the process how inclusiveness, deliberativeness and influence will be maximised. Since the commitments made by decision-makers have been consistently honoured, this process is likely to build more trust between ordinary people and government. In terms of specific influence, to date, 8 prioritised community initiatives (from the World Café process) are in the process of planning and implementation. These include: 1. Plant 1 million trees and develop community permaculture gardens. 2. Establish more wind, solar, tidal (wave), geothermal & biomass energy.
13 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite Enable Geraldton to be a Bicycle Capital, including incentives for bike use. 4. Develop a Youth Centre a place to get advice on everything, meet, have fun. 5. Give young people more say & get politically involved create a Youth Council. 6. Introduce a CAT (Central Area Transport) bus to service residents and tourists. 7. Develop a Community Aboriginal Education Precinct & Cultural Precinct. 8. Display community ideas from public deliberations at shopping centres. The most far-reaching impact thus far has been from the Deliberative Survey. The findings of the surprisingly high community support for the region becoming carbon neutral and for sustainable population growth, have empowered the decision-makers to take more decisive steps towards sustainability. They have given new confidence to the Region. This in turn has prompted investor confidence in supporting major sustainability infrastructure projects in the Region. These include building Australia s largest solar photo-voltaic farm in the Geraldton Region; international investment in renewable energy infrastructure; the possibility of the Geraldton Region supplying at least 20% of the WA South West grid through wind energy; and the Region becoming a globally unique, clean energy (low carbon) resources-industry area. The local government s new confidence has resulted in investment in sustainable transport modelling, critical to becoming carbon neutral; and related decisions such as investigating the most effective municipal waste recycling. The unintended but positive consequences of the deliberative survey process came to the fore at the aforementioned Council recycling meeting, when a key detractor of recycling told his fellow Councillors that he had been wrong - that what he had learned at the Deliberative Forum had changed him into a strong proponent of recycling. Achievements in Policy Area/Project Targets To date, the process has reached and exceeded expectations in terms of the public deliberation targets set regarding a) influence, b) deliberativeness and c) inclusion/representativeness. These are documented below: Number of Participants, Representativeness, Inclusion In a community of under 40,000 people, over 1,000 have been directly involved in face-to-face public deliberations. Over 4,000 have been involved online using CivicEvolution online deliberation, on the website, and on The Guardian (the local newspaper) Facebook site regarding the 2029 initiative. The data on participation so far, has shown that more people from diverse backgrounds are using the varied opportunities offered to become involved in the deliberations. It has been difficult to cross the large divide between the non-indigenous majority of the population and the local Aboriginal people, who are overwhelmingly disadvantaged socio-economically, are subject to ongoing racism, and are themselves very divided over competing land claims. A better communication bridge has begun, with over 50 Indigenous people involved in serious face-to-face and some online conversations about their community s future, many participating in public engagement initiatives for the first time. In one extraordinary comment, an Indigenous participant said he felt this was the first time in the last 200 years, our people have been really given a voice. The media partnership has significantly increased the community involvement. Indeed, the local newspaper editor sees it as the role of the paper to continue the deliberations in the community,
14 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 14 regardless of whether the current leaders of the project leave or stay. In short, improved deliberation is becoming embedded in everyday practice. Impact on Democratic Capacities: Structural and Cultural The project has already impacted democratic capacities in a number of ways: There have been efforts within the City-Region administration to support deliberativeness, inclusiveness and democratic decision-making, including trialling public deliberation initiatives within the agency; encouraging staff to become Community Champions; supporting the development of agency policy and strategy teams that are more inclusive, particularly of those people not usually heard; and in 2011, the agency will embark on a change management program, supported by research, that will enable the administration to model the democratic practices they are encouraging in the community; Elected Councillors have agreed to collaborate with senior City-Region staff, using facilitated deliberation, to determine budget priorities. Moreover, they have indicated that they are willing to support further empowerment of the people, including examining how the City-Region could implement the radical initiative (in Australia) of Participatory Budgeting; The Indigenous alliance has fostered new collaboration between Indigenous people and the institutions of government. The many alliances that have been created, including the media alliance, have enabled a cultural shift towards more informed and considered conversations, increased civic interest in the big issues, and greater willingness to deliberate them. Follow-up qualitative research of those who have participated in the public deliberation initiatives has noted their increased civic mindedness and their hope that this project represents the start of a new way of doing things that enables everyday citizens to be heard, and decision-making to better reflect the values and priorities of the people. 6. Evaluation of the Project Challenges and Lessons Learned This initiative has not yet concluded its first year. Hence, there has not yet been time to conduct the planned cycle of the evaluation research. However, some elements have been carried out and analysed and these are described below. The planned research design focuses on questions including: What are the effects of the deliberations on the attitudes and behaviour of participants, including their civic capacity? Do the deliberations strengthen decision-makers legitimacy? What design features enhance the quality of participant deliberation? And to what extent is digital deliberative democracy feasible? Evaluation of the 2029 Initiative thus far Deliberative Survey Forum Participant Feedback Following the Deliberative Forum, a survey elicited participant feedback. The most significant feature of these results was the magnitude of the satisfaction ratings. In democratic systems where a simple majority of over 50% is seen as significant, the commonplace appearance of ratings of over 90% indicated that this process met its objectives of being representative, inclusive and deliberative, unbiased, comprehensive, egalitarian and respectful. Importantly, there was almost universal enthusiasm to participate in a similar sort of forum in the future. Community Champions Debriefing Sessions
15 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 15 At the two debriefing sessions, the Community Champions reported on both the participant feedback and their own following their World Cafes. The key findings included: the overall success of using everyday people in the community to organise and facilitate deliberations; the general difficulty of getting diverse people to their deliberations; the ease of getting people to engage in the important issues; and varying satisfaction with their own skills as facilitators, with varying needs for additional training. Early Evaluation of CivicEvolution Online Deliberation Our pioneering online deliberation efforts have been in response to deficits perceived in online deliberation in general. In the main, online political engagement has not elicited representative participation; it has rarely been deliberative; and it has seldom influenced policy development and decision-making. CivicEvolution was established with a clear promise of influence, bargain clarifying what was in it for all parties, and process of deliberation, assisted by the software, to achieve this. However, the early evaluation of the 2029 online deliberation has shown that it has not yet succeeded in creating deliberative mass, that is, many people deliberating, returning over and over again to contribute in ways that invite thoughtful responses. The redesign currently under review has been inspired by the study of game design principles to see if the online deliberation can be presented as constructive game playing. Challenges for the Future There are dual challenges for the future on the one hand to allay the scepticism of decisionmakers about the ability of everyday people to resolve complex issues; and on the other hand, to foster citizens trust in politicians and other government officials. This will only occur if officials can accept that empowering people empowers government through greater legitimacy and credibility. To retain the trust of the people, elected officials and government agencies need to keep their commitments to heed the carefully deliberated views of the community. However, such views are invariably holistic, totally disregarding the silos between and within agencies. Government will need to find new ways to break down these artificial differences if they are to respond effectively and earn the people s trust. The inherent challenge of this initiative is to create a deliberative community. To do this, obviously, the participation net needs to extend out further to include greater numbers and more diversity of community members. This will also require a significant effort within the local government to adopt deliberative practices internally and invest their own resources or political capital in this process. Public deliberation will only remain a useful tool for public officials if the process design retains enough flexibility to be able to respond to changing conditions and priorities. There has been considerable momentum gained during the 1 st year of this process. The challenge will be not only to maintain it, but to keep gathering strength and impetus. Lessons Learned One of the key lessons so far has been to more carefully schedule public deliberation initiatives to avoid over-commitment and burn-out of those who are keen to help and be involved but are time poor (for example, the Community Champions). A key way of achieving this is by distributing the load as much as possible, in particular, by fostering a leaderful, self-managing community, where many take responsibility for making things happen.
16 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite 16 Another lesson is the importance of remembering that good deliberation isn t automatic. It will require the up-skilling of increasing numbers in the community if it is to become a way of life. It also requires time, which is always problematic. To find common ground and a direction forward often takes a day of deliberation or even more. However, using one of the days in the weekend is not feasible in the Geraldton Region where family sport is such an integral part of life a challenge. Public deliberation also needs an outcome that has influence if it is to foster increased social capital. It is certainly helpful to have decision-maker champions who understand deliberative democracy and are prepared to lead the way. Another helpful strategy has to ensure the public deliberation is relevant to public officials needs. Additionally, for increased social capital to occur, there needs to be more wide-spread attention given to those often not heard, so they don t fall through the cracks of organised public deliberations and get marginalised further. Politicians and governments find sustainability difficult to handle, being both complex and long term. Often their plans are subverted by vested interests and short term thinking. What Geraldton 2029 has already shown is that when there is support and ownership of the sustainability agenda by the community, governments can make more ambitious and speedy progress. 7. Next Steps and Visions for the Future Continuity of the Project This project is still in its early stages. The Research Project is fully funded for 3 years. In terms of a City-Regional Project, the aim is to use this beginning to make deliberative democracy a way of life. Doing this is not dependent on the current leaders. As the editor of the local newspaper said, he views it as his job. As the Community Champions have said, they view what they have learned as the way they want to pursue any challenging community issue in the future. As some of the elected Councillors have said, they view this as a learning process as to how they could better represent the people. Similarly, some of the City directors and managers have said they view this as a way to learn how to more effectively get citizen participation in the decisions that will impact them. The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) is funding a senior person to do his PhD on this Project to learn how local government could become more participative and collaborative and then to disseminate this knowledge to other local governments. Rather than a project, this initiative is a long term process that has just begun. Further Procedures and Plans The plans for 2011 have been documented in the Process and Activities table. It is difficult to document what 2012 will bring other than it is hoped by then there will be a cyclical strategic planning process, participatory budgeting, and other institutionalised ways for everyday citizens to collaboratively problem solve with government and industry, and collaboratively make decisions in the interests of the publicly considered common good.
17 Geraldton, Australia: Geraldton 2029 and beyond Seite Transferability to Germany In order to determine transferability to Germany, several factors need to taken into account. (1) The key policy issue that came forward in the Geraldton 2029 and Beyond process, sustainability, has taken on new and increased importance over the past years in Germany on all governmental levels: local, state and national. (2) One of the deciding factors for success in Geraldton is the well-managed cooperation between all relevant actors: city administration, city council, citizens, media, economic and nonprofit actors. A transparent communication about their roles, responsibilities and influence in the process has been established. There is no legal or relevant other restriction that would prevent a cooperation such as that being formed in Germany on any governmental level; in fact, there are examples to be found, especially on the local level. The level of commitment of political actors to actually involve others in decision-making and relinquish some of their power remains sometime unclear or even doubtful at times. However, if that were given, the potential for strategic or regional planning on the local level is obvious. (3) The various ways and methods via which citizens are engaged in Geraldton can be transferred to Germany. Elements such as world cafes, deliverative polls, online platforms and discussion forums are known and are already being used in Germany. However, the learning from Geraldton is that the deliberate combination of methods is what matters in addition to a pragmatic and flexible approach in implementing the methods and instruments. The goal is not to implement one method by-the-books but rather to achieve great results and generate a real benefit for all actors involved.