Facilitating Deliberation Masterclass

Around Australia there is growing demand and momentum for deliberative engagement practice. This includes changes to the Victorian Local Government Act to mandate deliberative engagement practice, the NSW Government producing a deliberative democracy toolkit, and the increasing number of local councils and utilities making use of citizens’ panels or juries in their long-term strategic planning.

We’ve partnered with the Melbourne-based team of facilitators and engagement practitioners, MosaicLab. To deliver a facilitation masterclass and immersive event that is the first of its kind in the world. Our aim is to cultivate a wave of leading facilitators who can meet this growing demand and potential for democratic innovation in Australia.

The 2-day immersive is for community engagement practitioners, elected members and decision-makers who want to find out how deliberative democracy works. It took the form of an intensive citizens’ assembly experience that covered what it is like to be part of a deliberative engagement project. Participants experienced small group work, information interrogation, and group decision making all while tackling the question:

How can citizens make a meaningful and fulfilling contribution to public decisions?”

The additional 3-day facilitation masterclass is for facilitators who wish to be fully equipped to facilitate citizens’ assemblies to the highest standard. This will take facilitators who have experienced the 2-day immersive and take them through a masterclass in how to design and facilitate deliberative engagement projects. Facilitators will learn from world-leading facilitators, MosaicLab, and project designers from newDemocracy. At the conclusion of the masterclass, you will be given the opportunity to be supported by or even co-facilitate a future deliberative engagement project with masterclass organisers to formally earn recognition of your skills.

How did it go?

On February 6th and 7th, 26 community engagement managers, professionals, advocates and more, met in Melbourne for a 2-day immersive experience. Together with MosaicLab, we ran a mock citizens’ jury process that condensed the usual 5-day process into a truncated 2-day format to give the participants all the essential emotional and physical experiences of being a typical participant.

They were asked to address the question: How can citizens make a meaningful and fulfilling contribution to public decisions?” They were provided with a briefing book, had access to a round of expert speakers, considered the scope of the problem presented to them by newDemocracy Executive Director Iain Walker, and developed their own recommendations.

Their final recommendation report is available here.

newDemocracy has committed to providing a public response, as would the convening body of a typical citizens’ jury. After which, we will close the loop with participants and discuss their experience.

Our public response document is available here.

What is next?

Of the 26 who attended the immersive, 10 will continue on for a facilitating deliberation masterclass with MosaicLab and newDemocracy later in February. This training will unpack the techniques, planning and knowledge required to deliver a deliberative process in full. These facilitators will then have the opportunity to work with MosaicLab and newDemocracy to learn and work together on deliberative engagement projects in the future.

We hope to run this masterclass annually. If you’re interested in the 2024 edition, please contact Kyle Redman to join the waitlist.

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