The Citizens' Jury was comprised of everyday citizens who collaborated to answer the question "How can we make it easier to eat better?" The process of how this was executed is outlined below.
What is the evidence?
Over six weeks, the jury read and viewed a number of responses to questions submitted from many different parties. These submissions formed the 'evidence' and covered a number of viewpoints.
To ensure the process was transparent and fair, submissions (evidence) could be made by any interested party. This means that all voices on the issue have a chance to be heard.
VicHealth presented its own case for overweight and obesity, to provide a balanced and evidence-driven picture of a systematic approach to obesity prevention
The jurors determined how they engaged with these materials and selected representatives from these parties to hear further information. VicHealth and the Steering Group did not ‘control’ the outcomes of the Citizens' Jury; this was in the hands of everyday Victorians.
The jurors will met online and face to face to over a six-week period to consider the evidence. During this time they were assisted by independent facilitators who ensured their requests for more information were met and ensured the process of deliberation remained transparent and open.
At the end of the process, the Citizens’ Jury developed a number of asks which aim to provide a solution to the question. They then presented these asks to a Steering Group.
A Steering Group was been established to provide a direct response to each request the Jury made, indicating their willingness and ability to do what is asked.
The Steering Group comprised of representatives from:
AMA Victoria, Australian Beverages Council, Australian Food & Grocery Council, CHOICE, City of Melbourne, Coles, C-PAN Deakin University, Foodbank Victoria, Obesity Policy Coalition, Tennis Australia, VicHealth, and the Victorian Government Department of Premier and Cabinet.
In addition, VicHealth had a range of initiatives and the capacity to redirect some of these for a sufficiently strong idea in the future.
Citizens' Jury processes were designed to be very hard to manipulate: the best way to convey this point was by giving the Steering Group the closest possible vantage point to observe all parts of the process.
Why a citizens' jury?
This was a pioneering approach in the way government makes decisions and manages difficult community issues. This is because it presented a result that was:
- Transparent and
The process, summarised:
- A large pool of potential jurors were invited to participate.
- From here, approximately 100 jurors are selected. They represented the people of Victoria.
- Interested parties were invited to submit material to be considered alongside VicHealth's case by the Jury.
- Jurors engaged in an online forum with objective facilitators moderating the process. They considered the evidence and started to gather direction.
- The jurors met face to face for two days. Here they solidified the direction established in the online forum.
- On the final day, the jurors presented a list of asks to the Steering Group.
Victoria's Citizens' Jury on Obesity was an initiative of VicHealth with support by newDemocracy Foundation, Australia’s leading research organisation specialising in democratic innovation.