Extinction Rebellion’s third demand calls on governments to create and be led by a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice. This guide provides a general guide to citizens’ assemblies. It explains what one is, how it works and why we need assemblies at both State and Federal levels.
Citizens’ assemblies are a form of participatory-deliberative democracy, building on our tradition of citizens’ juries, with more formal structures, a longer learning process and with a focus on consensus-building rather than choosing between adversarial positions. Deliberative democracy includes public hearings and citizens’ juries which can range in size from less than twenty people to several thousand. These processes have been successful in assisting policy-making across Australia – from obesity policy in Victoria to nuclear waste dumping in South Australia. In a citizens’ assembly, a randomly selected group of people come together to ref lect upon an issue of public concern and make policy decisions. The aim is to bring together a cross-section of society. Participants hear from experts and stake-holders, ask questions, deliberate on policy options and make recommendations that shape government responses.