The Mandarin | VicHealth’s citizens’ jury lessons: no censorship, impartiality

“The fundamental proposition of a citizens’ jury is that, when given a clear remit, adequate time and unfettered access to information, a group of representative citizens are capable of arriving at a sensible position that broadly reflects the views of the wider population,” the report argues.

“Neutrality of information is critical to success. This means representing fairly, proportionately and, as far as possible, without editorial bias all of the significant views within the community and among stakeholders.”

The involvement of independent organisations in the process helped reduce commonly-held concerns about self-interested stakeholders’ input and government consulting as a fig leaf to pushing ahead with a pre-decided policy. The citizens’ jury idea was initiated by VicHealth, a statutory authority; the process was designed by newDemocracy Foundation, a nonpartisan organisation with no stake in the issues.

“The independent and apolitical voice offered by VicHealth as a statutory authority was an essential element in being able to indicate a neutral conversation,” the document argues.

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Article by David Donaldson 

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