Corporate Concurrent Citizens’ Juries

The Citizens’ Juries were a means of addressing two issues – enabling DPI staff to experience a community engagement technique, the Citizens’ Jury, being trialled with the community; and encouraging staff to deliberate on innovative ways to better integrate the two critical functions of the Department – transport and land use planning.

The Issue

The Citizens’ Juries were a means of addressing two issues – enabling DPI staff to experience a community engagement technique, the Citizens’ Jury, being trialled with the community; and encouraging staff to deliberate on innovative ways to better integrate the two critical functions of the Department – transport and land use planning.

The Minister and Department for Planning and Infrastructure (DPI) had been encouraging the implementation of a variety of new community engagement techniques. However, many Departmental staff had no opportunity to be involved. This was problematic since the Minister was expecting DPI to lead the way in implementing community engagement initiatives that would engage citizens in problem solving complex issues and share in the decision-making. To enable the maximum number of DPI staff to experience a Citizens’ Jury, it was decided to hold three juries concurrently.

The newly formed DPI (an amalgamation of the Departments of Planning and Transport and some part of Main Roads) has the task of achieving greater sustainability by integrating land use and transport. World wide, this issue has great currency. Economic booms and economic rationalism has often led to finance being prioritised to the detriment of the environment and the social fabric of the community. The current focus is on achieving a better balance between the triple bottom line – environmental, social and economic factors. To do this effectively, the Department will need to change the way it does business.

The initial ‘challenge’ to Jurors was as follows:

“To determine what we can do as a Department – our people, processes and projects – to better integrate land use and transport. We want the end result to provide socially, economically and environmentally sound outcomes for WA.”

During the process, jury members voiced their difficulty with dealing with a brief that encompassed both internal and external components, with no clarity as to where the focus should be. The wording was altered in an attempt to address these issues. The following is the brief that was deliberated by Jury members:

“To determine how to integrate land use and transport though our planning (policies, services and department) to improve social, economic and environmental outcomes for WA”

The Methodology

Several techniques were trialled during this consultation:

  • A Citizens’ Jury was used as an internal Departmental technique rather than its usual application as a method for community consultation.
  • Three juries were held simultaneously on the same topic, with an attempt to synergise the findings, rather than holding a single Jury. This enabled more staff to be involved, and trialled the principle of “triangulation”, a method to enhance the potential of synergy.
  • Strategic Questioning was utilised, trialling the potential of capacity building with jury members to improve their skills in deliberation.

The Process

Agreements with Decision Makers
The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure and DPI Corporate Executive agreed to the format of the Juries. It was agreed that the Juries would verbally present their findings to the Corporate Executive at the conclusion of the deliberations and would present a full report to the Corporate Executive as soon as possible after the event. The DPI Corporate Executive agreed to consider the Jury report and inform the Juries and the rest of the Department what DPI would be able to implement, with an action plan, and what they could not, with reasons why not.

Human Resources carried out a random sample of the DPI staff, using staff numbers rather than names to ensure fair representation. The sample was stratified by level within the Department’s hierarchy, to enable all levels of staff to be represented on each Jury. The sample was also stratified by section, to ensure an equal mix of the original Transport and Planning Departmental staff, and to include sections involved as well as those not involved in the issue of integration.

Three consultants experienced in Citizens’ Juries facilitated the juries. Three staff members acted as scribe / synthesisers for each Jury. Their task was not to minute take but rather to ensure each jury’s key issues and findings were reported. Each Jury consisted of 15 members, each stratified according to staff level and section to ensure dialogue both across and up and down the organisation.

Process – Prior to the Jury Proceedings
All participants were given several articles on examples of land use and transport integration in Australia and overseas, as well as an outline of the Citizens’ Jury process and the Agenda for the two days. Participants were asked to read these introductory briefing materials before the Jury proceedings.

Jurors were also asked, as a result of their reading and experience, to devise a potential vision for DPI integrated land use and transport, and to determine the questions that would need to be asked to understand how to reach their vision.

Process – Overview
The Jury hearings and deliberations were over two consecutive days.

The first day’s agenda involved the examination of five Expert Witnesses. Each Witness was asked to prepare a 10-minute address. The Witnesses represented different areas of expertise, including planning and transport academics, practitioners and users, the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, and the Director General of DPI (who did not give a presentation, but answered Jury questions).

The Jurors compiled and agreed to a prioritised set of questions to ask the Expert Witnesses. The Expert Witnesses responded as a panel to the Juries’ questions.

The day 2 agenda included an overview of what was learnt from day one, followed by deliberation, with each Jury formulating its own visions, strategies, justifications and additional questions to be answered.

During the final session, the combined Juries synthesised the separate Jury recommendations to form a single set. These were presented to members of the DPI Corporate Executive

Following each day’s proceedings, participants gave feedback on what was beneficial and what could be improved.

Several days after the jury proceedings, a small group of volunteer representatives of each jury met to finalise the report for submission to Corporate Executive. Since it had been agreed with jury members that the recommendations would not be altered, the task was essentially to format and make the report more presentable.

Process – Jury Proceedings – Day 1
Facilitators outlined the aim of Citizens’ Juries, the Jury ‘challenge’ and an overview of the proceedings. Participants introduced themselves to other members of their Jury. This was followed by a capacity building session on the first level of Strategic Questioning – describing the issues / problems:

  1. Focus questions – identifying the situation and key fact necessary to understand the issue.
  2. Observation questions – what one sees and the information one has heard.
  3. Analysis questions – still gathering information by focusing on the meaning given to events and how the person thinks about the situation; also what motivations are ascribed to key players.
  4. Feeling questions – concerned with bodily sensations, emotions, health.

Jury members worked in threes to practice questioning, answering and observing. This exercise was carried out using unrelated issues in the beginning. This was followed by using the questions to describe the ‘challenge’ – integrating land use and transport.

Members within each jury shared their suggested questions. Following this session there was a plenary of all three juries, at which participants prioritised and selected the critical few questions to ask Expert Witnesses.

At the time the questions were formulated, the jurors had not yet heard the presentations of the Expert Witnesses. Although the practice in strategic questioning enabled useful questions to be formulated, obviously, this situation was far from ideal.

Preferably, the presentations should have been given first so the juries could have prepared their questions accordingly. Alternatively, jurors could have read an outline of the Experts’ presentations prior to the proceedings. Unfortunately, neither option was implemented, largely due to Expert Witness time constraints. However, there was an opportunity to ask additional questions following the Witness responses.

The Expert Witnesses were asked to attend the lunch break prior to the hearings so they could see the questions to be asked and have the opportunity to think of responses.

A representative from each Jury asked their Jury’s prioritised question. Most of the Expert Witness panel members responded to each question. The scribes wrote a synopsis of the key themes. This material was made available to jury members if needed during the deliberations that followed.

After the hearings, Jurors separated into the three jury groups to overview what had been learnt from day one and what questions remained unanswered.

During the final session of day one, all participants filled out a feedback form on what was beneficial and what could be improved.

The comments were analysed overnight, and alterations to the following day’s agenda were made accordingly.

Process – Jury Proceedings – Day 2
The Facilitators presented a synopsis of the feedback comments from day one. As a result of feedback, the Jury ‘challenge’ was altered and discussed.

A capacity building session was given, explaining the longer levers of Strategic Questioning – digging deeper, strategic questions:

  1. Visioning questions – concerned with identifying ideals, dreams, values.
  2. Change questions – concerned with how to get from the present towards a more ideal situation: this is about identifying the person’s change view that will affect their strategies for change.
  3. Considering all the alternatives – examining the possible options for achieving the vision as well as how change could happen.
  4. Considering the consequences – exploring the consequences of each alternative.
  5. Considering the obstacles – identifying likely obstacles (within and beyond the person) and how these can be dealt with; obstacles may include attachments, doubts, values or needs of any party; focus on what is stopping change from happening.
  6. Personal inventory and support questions – concerned with identifying one’s interest, potential contribution, particular skills, assets, resources and the support needed for action.
  7. Personal action questions – getting down to specifics; actual planning.


Jurors again practiced the questions in groups of three, with one questioning, another answering and the third observing. In this instance, the strategic questioning addressed the ‘challenge’.

Jury members were asked to write down their visions for the future and to discuss them with their fellow jurors in the following session.

Each of the three juries reported back their recommendations to the plenary session.

In order to create a single set of recommendations, the recommendations were divided into three groups – one relating to visions focusing on external conditions, two focusing on visions relating to internal conditions. Jury members divided into subsets, forming new groups with the task of synthesising the findings in one of the areas.

The DPI Corporate Executive was invited to the proceedings to hear the findings of the Juries. A representative from each sub group presented their group’s recommendations to the Corporate Executive. There was some time for discussion. However, Corporate Executive agreed to await the final jury report before deliberating on what could and could not be implemented. It was agreed that the Executive’s response would be distributed to all jurors and to the Department.

The final session of the day involved a feedback session of the benefits and concerns of the two days’ deliberation. Several representatives from each jury volunteered to help write the final report for the Corporate Executive. It was agreed that the final report would be distributed to all jury members for their input before its submission to the Executive.

Synopsis of the Jury Report
Three Citizens’ Juries of Department for Planning and Infrastructure (DPI) staff were held simultaneously to resolve the challenge of:

“Integrating land use and transport though our planning (policies, services and department) to improve social, economic and environmental outcomes for WA”

The three Juries consisted of 15 members each, selected from a random sample of DPI staff, encompassing all levels in the organisation. The Jury proceedings were conducted over two days. Participants were asked to read briefing materials of relevant articles prior to the jury commencing. At the jury proceedings, jury members examined expert witnesses using the technique of strategic questioning, deliberated, developed visions, strategies and actions, and agreed upon a combined set of recommendations.

As a result of the process the juries went through, the following recommendations are made:

  1. A challenge to DPI that the spirit of what went on in the two days’ deliberation marks a turning point in DPI where we refocus our efforts outwards as a unified Department, in a way that is participative, positive, forward looking, with a sense of commitment, passion and Esprit de corps.
    By endorsing this challenge, the organisation is demonstrating its willingness to consciously adopt a different way of how it does its business. The challenge to all of us is how we are going to take this forward.
  2. In the spirit of the DPI Citizens’ Juries that Citizens’ Jury volunteers work with Corporate Executive to deliberate the recommendations and determine a mutually agreeable action plan for implementation.
  3. In examining the visions, strategies and actions developed by the Citizens’ Juries, that the following key themes are given consideration:
    • Redefining consultation and communication so it involves informing, listening and then together, problem solving, both internally within DPI and externally;
    • Developing business relationships and partnerships, both internally within DPI and externally;
    • Forming integrated teams to resolve issues – seeking out representative and appropriately skilled resources to concentrate on the task;
    • Empowering staff to get on with the job through cultural change that involves ownership, stakeholder involvement, understanding of people’s differing roles across the organisation, collaboration, and professional support;
    • Bringing the whole organisation along with what sustainability means to DPI, through education and alignment of what we do.

The Outcome

The Corporate Executive received the report and agreed to work with a small group of jury representatives to work through an action plan.


One of the greatest successes of the Citizens Juries was the stratified, random sampling of staff. This selection technique gave staff the opportunity to discuss issues of importance with people who were new to them. Younger, less experienced participants, as well as those on the lower levels of the staff hierarchy, were given the opportunity to be heard, with their views taken seriously.

The ‘Challenge’
Participants found it difficult to understand what was actually required from the ‘challenge’ they were given. Their key concern was whether they were being asked how to improve the integration of land use and transport internally within the organisation or externally within the community. While the changed wording assisted sufficiently to enable participants to move on with resolving the matter, it remained a continuing issue.

Although Citizens’ Juries often deal with complex issues where the wording of the ‘challenge’ is broad, it would have been far more comfortable if the issue and the wording had been more specific.

Expert Witnesses
While the Expert Witness presentations were seen as highly useful, the questioning was perceived by many to be less satisfactory. Some expected the Experts to have all the answers, and hence were frustrated with their responses. Some felt the responses lacked depth. Most said they would have liked to prepare their questions after hearing the presentations rather than before. However, this would have meant keeping the Expert Witnesses waiting for several hours for the questions to be prepared. If that was not feasible, then, it could have helped if jury members could have read the outlines of the expert witness presentations in their pre-reading briefing papers.

Strategic Questioning
Many participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to learn the new technique of strategic questioning and found it to be particularly useful. However, it was questionable whether this technique should have been included within the jury proceedings. It might have been preferable if there had been a briefing, capacity building session prior to the jury proceedings.

Triangulation – three concurrent juries
The three concurrent juries allowed more staff to be involved and enhanced opportunities to network and learn from others. However, the synthesis was not easy. While prioritising the questions to ask of expert witnesses was not difficult, the large number of jurors made it prohibitive for most to engage in the questioning process.

The synthesis of recommendations at the end of the proceedings was also problematic. To achieve this, jurors left their original jury groups to form new subsets. This was far from ideal. The easy relationships between jury members that had developed over the two days were no longer there. There was insufficient time either to build new relationships or to finalise the recommendations satisfactorily.

Another option might have been for each jury to have presented its own findings to the corporate executive. After the event, an integrating team could have worked on bringing the threads together.

Using a Citizens’ Jury internally within the Department
There were differing views on the potential usefulness of this technique within DPI. However, there was unanimity about the positive spin-offs:

  • time to deliberate
  • chance to talk to different people across the Department
  • opportunities for participation via random sampling.

Most importantly, staff asked to be corporate citizens, who were willing to volunteer, carried out the task with ability, good will and creativity – mirroring the same effect as Citizens’ Juries in the community.