The next Public Forum hosted by The Newcastle Institute will feature the work of the newDemocracy, an independent, non-partisan foundation which works to develop alternative models of citizen-based democracy and restore trust in public decision-making.
newDemocracy was founded a decade ago by Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, prominent philanthropist and Managing Director of industrial giant Transfield Holdings. “It’s easy to be critical of current politics” he says. “We need innovate in how we do democracy.”
Senior Supporters of NewDemocracy include a range of ‘wise heads’ from across the political spectrum, including former premiers Geoff Gallop (Labor) and Nick Greiner (Liberal), business leader Jennifer Westacott, prominent journalist Laura Tingle, and the late John Kaye from the Greens.
The Executive Director of newDemocracy, Iain Walker, will be visiting Newcastle to discuss the way ‘Citizen Juries’ have been convened as a way for the community to deal with difficult issues that cannot be solved through conventional democracy. “Sometimes our election-based democratic processes just can’t handle complex issues” he says. “Time after time, we find communities becoming fractured and bogged down in arguments dominated by polarised opinions.”
NewDemocracy has promoted the use of ‘Deliberative Democracy’, based on a random sample of the community members coming together to explore the complexities of difficult decisions. This ‘citizen jury’ or ‘senate’ then advises governments on a way forward that is more acceptable to the community than a ‘winner takes all’ outcome that just fosters frustration, anger and bitterness in the community.
“We have successfully used this approach with multiple governments and government agencies, in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia” says Walker. “Ironically, we have conducted less work in our home state of NSW, and yet the need for this approach seems clear”.
Many in Newcastle would consider our history of poorly resolved divisive political issues as clear evidence of the need for a new approach.
NewDemocracy’s website (www.newdemocracy.com.au) provides information about the organisation’s work over the last fifteen years. The Public Forum on October 11th provides an opportunity for the general public to hear more, and discuss how these ideas could be applied in Newcastle.
The forum is open to anyone genuinely interested in a better future for our community.
Open to the Public – All welcome
Souths Leagues Club
Llewellyn Street, Merewether.
We request a $5.00 donation at the door to assist with our event costs.
Contact: Speakers available to the media (Contact Ross 0401 522875)