Deliberative Democracy


In 2018, we began a research project with the newDemocracy Foundation to learn more about deliberative democracy. This included:

  • What it means?
  • How it is used around the world?
  • Opportunities for new approaches to community engagement. 

Underpinning this work was a commitment to engage with a broader cross-section of our community about critical issues. 

Read more about the newDemocracy Foundation.

Community Solutions Panel - Infrastructure Spending Priorities

In 2018, Council conducted a deliberative democracy process called a Community Solutions Panel (CSP). This looked at how we prioritise infrastructure spending.

A randomly selected group of 31 people came together to form CSP. They were armed with time, free access to information, a clear authority and given possible solutions, to reach a shared, considered judgement - much like a jury would. 

The panel addressed a specific question "What infrastructure spending should we prioritise, and how should we fund these priorities if the rates alone are not enough?"

Council worked with the newDemocracy Foundation

Key considerations and recommendations of the panel

On Thursday 5 April 2018 ten panellists presented their report to Councillors and Executive Staff.  

The report was informed by: 

The key considerations and a decision-making framework of the report.

Key considerations

  • We aim to be proactive, not reactive
  • We recognise there are different needs in different places
  • We support investing in renewal when it is practical and necessary to do so
  • We encourage, support and facilitate shared ownership of community issues
  • We recognise that the development of transport alternatives to cars is essential
  • We support investment into infrastructure that generates a return
  • We endorse innovative approaches and efficiency in processes
  • We require organisational and individual responsibility, accountability and transparency

Decision making approach

  • Risk and safety is the first priority across all infrastructure types.
  • It is the desire for “poor” infrastructure to be upgraded to at least a “fair” status:
  • That does not mean all “poor” infrastructure is required to be upgraded. It is the responsibility of BSC to align decisions of “poor” status upgrades to be reflective of the CSP’s Vision and Values.
  • Some funds should be allocated for “renewal”, “operational” and to “new” projects:
  • “new” work can be undertaken by the utilisation of s94 or grant funds and considered in terms of long-term planning and cost-efficiency.
  • In the longer term, after we achieve a “fair” status over the majority of infrastructure types, then the expenditure of rates funds on infrastructure can move to be more balanced across upgrading infrastructure status.

The Panel's framework was drafted and reported to Council on 17 May 2018 for public exhibition. 

The Byron Model

Following the first Community Solutions Panel, we began explored the possibility of developing our own 'model' of deliberative democracy. A model that could underpin how we engage with the community everyday.  A group of randomly-selected local residents addressed the following question:

"How do we want to make democratic decisions in the Byron Shire that can be widely supported?" 

The recommendations from this panel have been adopted by Council and the Byron Model is currently under trial.

For more information visit Byron Model - Your Say Byron Shire website

Community Solutions Panel - Sustainable Visitation Strategy

In 2019, work began on the development of a new 10 year tourism plan for the Byron Shire, called a Sustainable Visitation Strategy. 

A Community Solutions Panel was selected as part of the thorough and in-depth community engagement undertaken to help inform this strategy. They addressed the question:

"What actions can Council take to align visitor behaviour with community values?"

For more information visit Sustainable Visitation Strategy page