democracyCo supports democratic reform in Australia, using deliberative approaches to involve citizens from the beginning and which arrive at reasoned policy decisions. democracyCo support governments and other organizations to collaborate with those they serve.
Mission and Purpose
democracyCo are committed to deliberative work in the area of government reform. Specifically, the projects democracyCo undertake are both deliberative and ahere to the following principles:
- Are transparent – democracyCo design their processes to be fully open and transparent about all elements of the process design and delivery as possible. democracyCo only work with people and teams who agree to operate in a transparent way.
- Are collaborative – democracyCo know that policy making will be better and more sustainable if it’s done collaboratively, meaningfully involving citizens, key stakeholders and government agencies – and supporting them to work together.
- Model respect – citizens are smart. Collective groups of citizens are as able, if not more able, to develop good policy responses to complex issues as anybody else; when they have the information and time required to consider problems, weigh up options and propose solutions.
- Ppromote independence – participants need to be allowed to seek their own information / advice and come to their own conclusions without coercion or undue influence. This is the only way that their work will be trusted.
- Have meaning – giving citizens’ the ability to have influence means committing at the start of a process to implementing some or all of what they decide. democracyCo require this for every project they undertake.
- Are citizen centred – democracyCo design all of their processes for everyday citizens. They are accessible, enjoyable and also 'stretching' – as they know that when designed for citizens, deliberative processes will deliver what they need to. democracyCo also want people to enjoy this way of working, so they will demand more of it is done.
democracyCo have built a reputation for their commitment to the above principles, meaning their work is often complex, balancing many competing interests. However, according to Emily and Emma, it is their adherence to these principles that drives their love of public engagement and deliberation.
Origins and Development
democracyCo was born out of a frustration that governments’ were not achieving quality reform that was able to address the scale and complexity of the problems faced by our communities.
Their experiences in recent years have also revealed that communities are not trusting of decisions made by governments, nor by the way in which they are made. democracyCo recognise that this is not unique to Australia, and have watched with concern how thriving democracies around the world have become susceptible to this trend.
This encouraged democracyCo to create a business which is unique in every way. democracyCo is owned by Emily Jenke and Emma Fletcher and operates as a commercial entity. democracyCo deliberately does not align themselves with issues, nor do they promote agendas. Instead they work with any government, of any persuasion who wants to reform alongside their citizens. As a duo, Emily and Emma use their combined skills in deliberative techniques, policy making and group facilitation to bring governments and the communities they serve closer together.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
DemocracyCo is headed up by co-founders Emily Jenke, and Emma Fletcher. Emma has extensive experience working in and with government and led the Better Together policy in South Australia, which spearheaded meaningful, embedded engagement with communities in government decision-making in SA. The initiative has received praise worldwide and been recognised in international awards.
Emily Jenke has almost 20 years experience as a facilitator and practitioner in engagement. She also has extensive experience working with government and has worked with the SA government on previous engagement initiatives. Emily was also instrumental in the Reforming Democracy policy in South Australia and delivers the governments Better Togethersuite of training programs.
democracyCo are a for profit business trading as a company and do not accept donations.
Specializations, Methods and Tools
DemocracyCo provides reform services to Governments to bring about enduring change and improvement in citizens' lives.
DemocracyCo are specialists in developing deliberative strategies to approach reform. This is informed by the recognition that there is no point in having a deliberative process if in reality, the decision has already been made. They do not advocate a single methodology but use a variety of techniques suiting the circumstances. They follow a co-creation process with clients and stakeholder to design strategies and processes together.
Democracy Co facilitate deliberative processes from start to finish - all over Australia and internationally. They have extensive expertise in facilitation and managing group dynamics.
Major Projects and Events
democracyCo are the creators of the Peoples' Policy method - which aims to put citizens at the very centre of the policy making process. In late 2017 democracyCo ran the first pilot: Peoples' Policy on Childrens' Wellbeing. democracyCo offer training in this ground breaking method.
Democracy Co have conducted all major South Australian CJs which are also featured on Participedia; one was about how to reduce the number of unwanted pets, and one on sharing the roads safely between road users. They also facilitated the South Australian Citizens' Jury on nuclear waste storage. In 2018, democracyCo designed and ran the Citizens Jury on Compulsory Third Party Insurance for the ACT Government in Canberra.
They have also run many deliberative panels in SA to support reform - on energy and power pricing, community-based sentencing, community engagement in planning, and one in Canberra to develop a strategy for Carers in the ACT.
Democracy Co have undertaken a range of other projects including training & community engagement policy design. democracyCo also undertake their own recruitment for their processes ensuring an end-to-end designed process for citizens. You can read about them in more detail here.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
democracyCo have produced a range of articles and blogs which can be found here.
Emily Jenke, e-mail message, Jan 2018.
democracyCo. 2018, http://www.democracyco.com.au/