Deliberation forums: a pathway for public participation


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ISBN: 1-920842-31-4

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Type of work: Communication




Public participation is now required for most governmental decision making in many parts of the Western world. In the USA, one approach to engaging communities in public processes is deliberation. Public deliberation is people coming together face -to-face to talk about a problem that is important, exploring their options and weighing the costs and consequences of their decisions in the context of the views of others. Communities cannot act together until they decide together. Elements to a public deliberation forum include framing the issue so the public can discuss it, convening the process with diverse stakeholders, and having skilled moderators to manage the tensions and conflict that may arise. Examples are presented which discuss how the deliberative process has been used for public consultation in a case in Missouri, USA for the policy area of county land use planning. In Australia, the deliberative approach is being piloted at the community level by Charles Sturt University with a local Catchment Management Authority (CMA) whose charter aims to involve communities in decision-making, seeking to make best use of catchment knowledge and expertise. This paper discusses these efforts.


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Bone, Z., Crockett, J. & Hodge, S. (2006). “Deliberation forums: a pathway for public participation”. In Petheram, R.J. & Johnson, R. (Eds.), Practice change for sustainable communities: Exploring footprints, pathways and possibilities, 1-16. Proceedings of APEN International Conference 2006The Regional Institute Ltd.