Data

Specific Topics
Infrastructure
Public Participation
Location
Byron Bay
New South Wales
2481
Australia
Scope of Influence
City/Town
Files
Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel - final report
Links
https://www.newdemocracy.com.au/2018/01/19/byron-shire-council-trialling-a-community-solutions-panel/
https://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Projects-and-initiatives/Community-Solutions-Panel
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Deliver goods & services
Approach
Consultation
Civil society building
Spectrum of Public Participation
Involve
Total Number of Participants
28
Open to All or Limited to Some?
mixed
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
stratified
Targeted Demographics
Stakeholder Organizations
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Facilitate decision-making
Recruit or select participants
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Sortition
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Information & Learning Resources
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
Voting
If Voting
Super-Majoritarian
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Type of Organizer/Manager
Local Government
Non-Governmental Organization
For-Profit Business
Funder
Byron Shire Council
Type of Funder
Local Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
No
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in public policy
Changes in how institutions operate
Implementers of Change
Elected Public Officials
Appointed Public Servants
Formal Evaluation
No

CASE

Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel

First Submitted By Lucy J Parry, Participedia Team

Most Recent Changes By Lucy J Parry, Participedia Team

Specific Topics
Infrastructure
Public Participation
Location
Byron Bay
New South Wales
2481
Australia
Scope of Influence
City/Town
Files
Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel - final report
Links
https://www.newdemocracy.com.au/2018/01/19/byron-shire-council-trialling-a-community-solutions-panel/
https://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Projects-and-initiatives/Community-Solutions-Panel
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Deliver goods & services
Approach
Consultation
Civil society building
Spectrum of Public Participation
Involve
Total Number of Participants
28
Open to All or Limited to Some?
mixed
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
stratified
Targeted Demographics
Stakeholder Organizations
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Facilitate decision-making
Recruit or select participants
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Sortition
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Professional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Information & Learning Resources
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
General Agreement/Consensus
Voting
If Voting
Super-Majoritarian
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Type of Organizer/Manager
Local Government
Non-Governmental Organization
For-Profit Business
Funder
Byron Shire Council
Type of Funder
Local Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
No
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in public policy
Changes in how institutions operate
Implementers of Change
Elected Public Officials
Appointed Public Servants
Formal Evaluation
No

Byron Shire Council in New South Wales undertook a community engagement process, including a deliberative aspect, in order to help meet an increasing demand for better infrastructure with finite financial resources.


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Problems and Purpose

Byron Shire is a popular tourist area in New South Wales. The local government, like many others in Australia, faced the challenge of increased infrastructure, future population growth, and limited funds. In particular, it needed to balance the desire to protect the area and its character with the demand for better quality infrastructure [1]. Adding to this challenge, recent feedback had shown that trust and faith in the local council was low, and there was a desire for a more community led approach [2].

To this end, Byron Shire Council convened a community solutions panel to address the question:

‘How should the money generated through the rate increase and earmarked for expenditure on infrastructure be prioritised, and how should those priorities be funded if rates alone are not enough?’ [3]

The aim of the panel was thus twofold: to help address the infrastructure challenge, and to help rebuild trust in the council and create a stronger relationship with the community for the future.

Background History and Context

Byron Shire Council had a lack of public trust [4], coupled with competing community and political interests [5] to contend with, alongside the central challenge of meeting infrastructure needs. It was in these circumstances that the council expressed an interest in working with newDemocracy Foundation for a deliberative process alongside their planned community consultation activities.

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The panel was initiated by Byron Shire Council and the process run by newDemocracy, a well-established non-profit organization. Additional consultation firms were engaged to undertake additional community engagement [6]. The process was funded by the council, at a reduced cost from nDF. The reduction in price recognized that ‘we are explicitly trialing a low-cost, small-format methodology and as a regional council BSC has a limited capacity to pay’ [7]

Participant Recruitment and Selection

The 28 panellists were taken from a random stratified sample carried out online. Interested participants were required to register with nDF, and from that pool a sample matching Byron’s demographics was taken. Potential participants did not know about the topics under discussion prior to registering their interest [8].

Methods and Tools Used

The community solutions panel is described by newDemocracy Foundation as a ‘bespoke jury-style process’. [9] They also acknowledge this case as a trial of a lower cost methodology [10], possibly as an alternative to a full-blown citizens’ jury which demands a lot of resources and can be seen as inflexible.

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

Prior to the panel meetings, there were two community workshops. These initial workshops were an opportunity for various community interest groups, individuals and stakeholders to generate potential solutions and prepare information that would be presented to the panel [11]. This was a central and unique element of the panel process – that the potential solutions put to the panel were generated by stakeholders in this manner.

Community groups and individuals could also make submissions to the panel for consideration and were collated in the panel’s document library for transparency. 41 submissions were made and considered by the panel.

The panel met in person four times over two months, presenting their recommendations to council at the final meeting. The panel met during evenings and weekends to ensure as many people as possible could attend. Some elements of the panel were also open to observers and the public.

The panel itself deliberated on a decision-making process and agreed on the following format:

1. Brainstorming

2. Discussion

3. Consensus

4. Consideration of other opinions

5. Panel Voting (80/20 consensus) if needed [12]

In their final report, the panel outline the processes through which they arrived at the final recommendations. These involved small group deliberation and feeding back as a whole group. They first decided that in order to prioritise infrastructure needs for Byron, they needed a set of values to guide their decision-making procedure:

“These values were firstly brainstormed as a whole group. Then smaller groups prioritised, defined and further examined the shared values. This refined information was then shared with the whole panel and was approved following more deliberations until a consensus was reached to adopt these values as essential values as they apply to Byron Shire infrastructure.” [13]

The final recommendations were presented to council at the fourth meeting. 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Prior to the panel sessions, council had agreed to implement the panel’s recommendations as part of its delivery program for infrastructure [14]. The council’s report details how they plan to respond to each recommendation, where they acknowledge that some of the panel’s recommendations, such as risk and safety when considering infrastructure, are already part of how they operate [15].

Following on from the panel, Byron Shire Council are working with newDemocracy Foundation again to develop a Byron model of democracy, using a deliberative co-design process to develop a collaborative approach to local democracy.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

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See Also

References

[1] newDemocracy Foundation (2017). Byron Shire Council - Trialing a Community Solutions Panel (2018). Available at: https://www.newdemocracy.com.au/2018/01/19/byron-shire-council-trialling-a-community-solutions-panel/

[2] Byron Shire Council (2018). Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel. Available at: https://www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/byron-shire-community-solutions-panel

[3] newDemocracy Foundation (2017). Byron Shire Council - Trialing a Community Solutions Panel (2018). Available at: https://www.newdemocracy.com.au/2018/01/19/byron-shire-council-trialling-a-community-solutions-panel/

[4] Ibid.

[5] Byron Shire Council (2018). Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel. Available at: https://www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/byron-shire-community-solutions-panel

[6] newDemocracy Foundation (2017) Operations and Milestones - trialing a community solutions panel. Available at: https://newdemocracy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/docs_activeprojects_byronshire2018_BSC-nDF-Process-Design-December-2017-Operations.pdf

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] newDemocracy Foundation (2017) Outline of Concept - Byron Shire Council. Available at: https://newdemocracy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/docs_activeprojects_byronshire2018_BSC-nDF-Process-Design-December-2017-Concept.pdf

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Byron Shire Community Solutions Panel (2018). Final Report. Available at: https://www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/32788/documents/74593

[13] Ibid.

[14] newDemocracy Foundation (2017). Byron Shire Council - Trialing a Community Solutions Panel (2018). Available at: https://www.newdemocracy.com.au/2018/01/19/byron-shire-council-trialling-a-community-solutions-panel/

[15] newDemocracy Foundation (2017) Operations and Milestones - trialing a community solutions panel. Available at: https://newdemocracy.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/docs_activeprojects_byronshire2018_BSC-nDF-Process-Design-December-2017-Operations.pdf

External Links

Byron Shire Council

newDemocracy Foundation

Notes