Frequently asked questions

What is a Citizens’ Jury?

The purpose of a Citizens’ Jury is to bring the considered judgment of everyday people to bear on complex issues. A Jury is particularly useful where debates have become become polarised and can help to improve trust in public decision-making. Members of the Jury were randomly and independently selected to represent the community’s voice on an issue and in this case were encouraged to come up with innovative ideas for cyclists and motorists to share the roads safely. The Jury was provided with information from experts to enable them to gain a deep understanding of the complexities around the topic. The recommendations from the Jury are considered by the government and tabled in parliament. Government agencies implement the government’s response to the recommendations.

Want to know more? Read this article co-authored by Emily Jenke, Citizens' Jury facilitator: Let’s ask more of Australian democracy - INDAILY, 21 October 2015.

Why was a Citizens’ Jury created to focus on this topic?

South Australia has a strong culture of motoring. At the same time there is a growing number of people cycling. There are also increasing demands to be able to travel safely on roads, highlighted by recent accidents. The Jury was encouraged to consider new ways of sharing the roads safely.

How did you ensure that the participants were representative of the wider community?

Members of the Jury were randomly selected by an independent non-partisan research organisation; the new Democracy Foundation (nDF) .The selection of the jurors was deliberately independent from government and aimed to ensure the jury was representative of the urban South Australian population. Invitations to participate in the Cycling Citizens’ Jury were extended to a randomly selected sample of 6,000 citizens, using the commercially available Australia Post address database, Citizens were invited to register electronically with nDF to indicate that they were available for the final selection. From the responses, a sample was drawn electronically based on pre-agreed stratification goals. The aim was to achieve a group descriptively representative of the community even if one subset of the community responded disproportionately to the initial invitation.

For more information about the Jury recruitment process, visit the newDemocracy website.

Were Jury members identified? 

The list of Jury members was not published, and information about the Jury was not provided to the South Australian Government prior to the first meeting of the Jury. All Jury members agreed that their photographs could be used. 

How did people get involved?

Members of the Jury were randomly selected through the process described above. There was also be the opportunity for the general public to contribute both through online discussions and through a more formalised submission process on this website. The Jury received submissions from the subject experts, the public, from industry and from any interested party. 

What sorts of things did the Jury consider under the proposed topic?

The Jury heard from a panel of experts who provided information and experience to enable jurors to obtain a deep understanding of the complexities around the topic. The Jury also identified  experts and representatives from various organisations they would like to hear from to gather further information. They were also provided with the public submissions and the online discussions. 

An independent facilitator provided the Jury members with other tools and experiences that assisted them to consider the topic. Individual members of the Jury were not expected to turn into experts themselves through this process. Instead, they added value by rendering down the information and what they learnt into recommendations that were relevant to everyday citizens. They brought the perspective and common sense of everyday citizens and a cross-section of social norms to help find solutions to the challenge.

What did the Jury actually do?

This Jury was charged with suggesting bold, new initiatives that could be trialed in South Australia. The Jury process was intensive and focused. Jurors were provided with time to grapple with the complex issues inherent in the topic away from the distraction of everyday life. Over five meeting sessions, the Jury had access to experts and information about the history and background of the topic. These sessions allowed the Jury time to explore the topic in group discussions and carefully consider the issues. Between sessions, the jury were encouraged to do their own additional research, reflect on discussions and think creativity to develop practical and innovative ideas. 

Why should we trust the Citizens’ Jury process?

A Citizens' Jury operates in a similar way to a legal jury where twelve ordinary members of the community (selected by a ballot) sit in judgment of the evidence presented in a trial. In a legal jury, previous legal knowledge is not required and the jurors are not expected to be experts. The system of trial by legal jury depends on the attendance of the broadest possible cross section of the community bringing their life’s experiences to bear on the law. The task of the jury in a trial is to judge the facts presented in evidence by experts.  A Citizens' Jury operates in a similar way – hearing arguments and considering evidence, although in this Citizens’ Jury they make recommendations rather than decisions.

How was the process managed? 

Independent facilitator, Emily Jenke facilitated the jury sessions and process. Emily is highly regarded and has many years of experience in community engagement.  She recently facilitated an independent Citizens’ Jury process on Kangaroo Island. She ensured that the process was at arms-length from government and transparent.

What was the Jury’s schedule?

Jury deliberations were over five meetings between September 25 and October 25, 2014. The Jury prepared its final recommendations at its last meeting in October. The Jury’s report is available in the report section of this site 

What commitment has government given to implementing the recommendations?

The Premier will take the Jury’s report to government and a written response from government agencies to the Jury will be prepared. The government’s response to the recommendations will be implemented by government agencies and will be tabled in State Parliament.

What has happened since the last Citizens’ Jury?

Recommendations and the government’s response from the first Citizens’ Jury held last year, as well as a status update on the new initiatives being implemented by government agencies is available on this site.

Is this an effective use of public money?

Yes. Greater involvement of everyday people in decisions that affect their lives can help government to make better decisions about what people need. This can save both time and effort when developing policies and delivering services. 

Why doesn’t government just make the decisions? 

The point of the Citizens’ Jury is to trial new ways for people to get involved in decision-making that affects them and others in their community. Citizen Juries’ have been shown to be capable of generating consensus on issues previously seen as intractable and can also help to find new ways to solve problems.

Is there a danger that despite random selection, members of the Jury could still have individual bias towards some issues? 

It’s normal that some people will have a strong opinion on a given topic. However, by randomly selecting jurors and providing the Jury with an independent facilitator, the potential for a single person to influence the position of the rest of the Jury was minimised. Each juror was also given the information they needed to make informed judgements, including advice from experts, members of the public and any other interested parties