Data

General Issues
Planning & Development
Specific Topics
Public Amenities
Libraries
Transportation Planning
Collections
Participedia Team
Location
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
Australia
Files
Phase 1 Summary Report
Better Suburbs Statement accessible SEPTEMBER 2018
Links
https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs
https://www.democracyco.com.au/our-projects/better-suburbs/
Videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJL8KuoFWXw
Kitchen Table Discussion Introduction Video
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
Co-governance
Spectrum of Public Participation
Collaborate
Open to All or Limited to Some?
mixed
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
stratified
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
Public budgeting
Informal conversation spaces
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Manage and/or allocate money or resources
Recruit or select participants
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Survey
Deliberation
Participatory Budgeting
Kitchen Table Conversations
Pop-up
Q&A Session
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Ask & Answer Questions
Listen/Watch as Spectator
Information & Learning Resources
Site Visits
Expert Presentations
Participant Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
Don’t Know
If Voting
Don’t Know
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Type of Organizer/Manager
Regional Government
For-Profit Business
Funder
ACT Government
Type of Funder
Regional Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
Yes
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
Stakeholder Organizations
Formal Evaluation
Yes
Evaluation Report Documents
TCCA Participatory Budgeting Reveiew

CASE

Better Suburbs Program for Canberra

General Issues
Planning & Development
Specific Topics
Public Amenities
Libraries
Transportation Planning
Collections
Participedia Team
Location
Canberra
Australian Capital Territory
Australia
Files
Phase 1 Summary Report
Better Suburbs Statement accessible SEPTEMBER 2018
Links
https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs
https://www.democracyco.com.au/our-projects/better-suburbs/
Videos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJL8KuoFWXw
Kitchen Table Discussion Introduction Video
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
Co-governance
Spectrum of Public Participation
Collaborate
Open to All or Limited to Some?
mixed
Recruitment Method for Limited Subset of Population
stratified
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
Public budgeting
Informal conversation spaces
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Manage and/or allocate money or resources
Recruit or select participants
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Survey
Deliberation
Participatory Budgeting
Kitchen Table Conversations
Pop-up
Q&A Session
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Ask & Answer Questions
Listen/Watch as Spectator
Information & Learning Resources
Site Visits
Expert Presentations
Participant Presentations
Written Briefing Materials
Decision Methods
Don’t Know
If Voting
Don’t Know
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Report
Type of Organizer/Manager
Regional Government
For-Profit Business
Funder
ACT Government
Type of Funder
Regional Government
Staff
Yes
Volunteers
Yes
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
Stakeholder Organizations
Formal Evaluation
Yes
Evaluation Report Documents
TCCA Participatory Budgeting Reveiew

Canberra has a growing population and the ACT government undertook a community consultation process as a pilot project for participatory budgeting in the city. Participants were asked to consider budgeting priorities for Canberra's suburbs.

Problems and Purpose

Canberra is expected to be home to 500,000 people by 2030. This increase in population will require changes to public services and land use, among other things [1]. In 2018 the ACT government undertook a program of community and deliberative engagement to help develop the Better Suburbs Statement, a vision for Canberra’s city services in the future.

The focus on suburbs is particular to Canberra because the city was purposefully designed as a series of town centers, suburbs and districts. Most suburbs have their own center with shops and services and the suburbs are an important and distinct aspect of living in Canberra. The Better Suburbs statement covers issues such as domestic animal management, public amenities, libraries and general infrastructure and services [3].

The multifaceted engagement program took place in three phases including surveys, kitchen table discussions and a deliberative forum. The final day of the deliberative forum also functioned as a participatory budgeting trial to allocate funding for play spaces in three of Canberra’s suburbs [4].

Background History and Context

In recent years the ACT government has convened a number of deliberative style engagement processes in Canberra on issues such as housing and social care.

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The Better Suburbs program was convened by the ACT government. The deliberative forum part of the program was facilitated by democracyCo, including the participatory budgeting trial.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

The surveys and kitchen table discussions were open to participants from the whole community as well as stakeholders. Participants in the citizens’ forum was selected from an initial 6,000 invitations sent to households around Canberra. From the positive responses, a representative group of 46 citizens were selected. They worked with 25 representatives from government, industry and non-governmental organizations during the forum [5].

Methods and Tools Used

The Better Suburbs program involved a range of methods and tools, beginning with surveys and pop-ups to gather initial feedback which was used to develop a kitchen table discussion guide. These results were presented for deliberation at a citizens' forum of randomly selected citizens. The final part of the forum was dedicated to a trial run of participatory budgeting.

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

The first phase of the program took place in late 2017 and involved gathering initial feedback on city services from the community through the deployment of a survey, an online discussion board, social media interaction and pop-up sessions in the town centers [6].

The views gathered from the first phase were used to develop a kitchen table discussion guide incorporating feedback on city services and as designed to help the government better understand the community’s priorities for services. People could download the guide along with a guide on hosting a kitchen table discussion, and then drop off their feedback at a local library or online [7]. Kitchen table discussions are self-organized, informal conversations that can be hosted by anyone interested in a convenient setting.

Results from both the survey consultation and kitchen table discussions were then fed into the deliberations of a citizens’ forum. The forum took place over four days, with a final fifth day dedicated to the participatory budgeting trial.

The first day of the forum began with a bus tour with commentary from city officials. Later on, participants considered what they’d learnt from the bus tour and heard a presentation on the city’s services. On the second day the forum continued to build their knowledge about Canberra’s services with presentations from the Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS). As well as presentations, TCCS staff facilitated small group deliberations and insights were recorded on large boards that participants could refer to later on in the process. The third day included an exercise to explore the connections between different services and business using balls of wool, to visually express the complexity of the network. The forum were then presented with the results of the kitchen table discussions. By the end of the third day the forum had begun to collate some recommendations for the Better Suburbs Statement [8]. Work on the recommendations continued on the fourth day, with participants working in seven smaller groups to finalize the statement. The forum also discussed their experiences and aspirations for the community’s relationship with the ACT government, and heard a presentation about the overall role of the Better Suburbs statements and what would happen with their recommendations following the forum [9].

The fifth day of the citizens’ forum was dedicated to discussing and prioritizing spending for play spaces in Canberra. An additional ten participants with involvement or expertise on the issue joined the existing forum participants. The day involved learning about the importance of play spaces to children’s development and health and from community representatives who had petitioned the government for improvements to play spaces in their areas. Participants then worked in small groups to allocate spending categories for the $1.9 million (AUD) that was available for the play spaces. As well as the spending allocation, some of the small group deliberations worked on developing priorities for play spaces such as optimal locations [10]. During the day the forum also presented their Better Suburbs statement to a government minister.

Following the citizens’ forum, several follow up meeting were held. Spending allocation was finalized at a forum of 21 participants (from the original citizens’ forum) in September 2018, whilst a group of 10 met twice thereafter to make specific decisions on the allocation of money [11]. The breakdown of the spending allocation can be found here.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The final Better Suburbs statement was publicly released in September 2018. The ACT government has provided a document on the rolling implementation of the priorities outlined in the statement for 2019-20.

Part of the budgeting allocation and discussions of the play spaces forum was around the importance of nature play. Following on from this, the government undertook further engagement with local schools and the community around the development of new nature play spaces in two locations in the city [12].

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!

See Also

References

[1] DemocracyCo (2020). Better Suburbs, Australian Capital Territory. Available at: https://www.democracyco.com.au/our-projects/better-suburbs/

[2] ACT Government (2020). Better Suburbs. Available at: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs

[3] ACT Government (2020). Better Suburbs:m Phase 1 Consultation Recap. Available at: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs/Phase-1-Consultation-Recap

[4] ACT Government (2020). Better Suburbs. Available at: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs

[5] ACT Government (2020). Better Suburbs: Citizens Forum. Available at: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs/citizens-forum

[6] ACT Government (2018) Better Suburbs Community Consultation and Engagement Summary Report [pdf]. Available at:https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.act-yoursay.files/3415/2642/9905/Better_Suburbs_Community_Consultation_and_Engagement_Summary_Report.pdf

[7] ACT Government (2018). Better Suburbs Kitchen Table Discussion Guide. Available at: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs/kitchen-table-discussion-guide

[8] ACT Government (2018) Better Suburbs Citizens Forum Weekend 2. Available at: https://yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs/citizens-forum-weekend-2

[9] ACT Government (2018) Better Suburbs Citizens Forum Weekend 3. Available at: https://yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs/citizens-forum-weekend-3

[10] Ibid.

[11] ACT Government (2018). Better Suburbs: Play Spaces Forum. Available at: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs#jl_magic_tabs__gix2

[12] ACT Government (2020). Better Suburbs: Nature Play. Available at: https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs#jl_magic_tabs__gix2

External Links

https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/BetterSuburbs

https://www.democracyco.com.au/our-projects/better-suburbs/

Notes