The Citizen Panel

The Citizen Panel is a panel of citizens that act like a permanent Citizen Jury or sounding board that APS agencies can consult about their work.

citizen panel2


What it might look like: After getting on the Panel’s agenda, a public servant would present their draft policy or programme to the panel of citizens, and get their feedback.


Why the contribution is important

Policy and programmes are improved by the views of public. The Citizen Panel would let public servants ‘pub test’ their work, or get expert advice, prior to finalising it – improving its quality and chances of success.

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Add comments: What do you like? What would you change?

  • Who would you have sit on the Panel – a wide range of demographics? Or specialists in a particular field?
  • Would you pay people? Could it meet face to face and online? Would it meet quarterly? Ad hoc?
  • Do you think people would really want to be part of this?

by ProjectTeam on February 23, 2018 at 12:41PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 3.5
Based on: 10 votes


  • Posted by kleo7036 February 26, 2018 at 15:28

    My first reaction was, 'isn't this just a focus group?' Then I realised that just because it was a focus group doesn't mean it can't be valuable. Testing draft policies with a focus group could be interesting and helpful, as long as you can find a way of ensuring the process was confidential and didn't lead to leaks?
  • Posted by BigEv February 26, 2018 at 16:34

    One way to do this would be to do it online - in which case everyone who registers with a site could be part of the 'panel'. Presentations could be scheduled and presented online - registered 'panel' members could receive notifications when a presentation was forthcoming - comments & questions could be collected via a blog. The downside is that people who are not tech savvy are potentially excluded from policy discussions that may effect them. You could orchestrate face to face panel meetings are the same time as the broader online telecast and then debate it with the panel after the session.
  • Posted by jgibbons March 02, 2018 at 23:59

    The diversity of this panel would be absolutely crucial to ensure a range of views are represented. It could also be useful to think about the aims of the panel; are you looking for specialist expertise or the views of people who the policy is likely to affect, or just the views of members of the public who are not involved in the policy as yet. The former are potentially covered by interest groups and stakeholder consultation, but the latter could have some value. And agree that online could be the best way to do it, ensuring that demographic information is collected to make sure diverse views are represented.
  • Posted by WorkinginCivic March 05, 2018 at 13:23

    I like this idea, provided it involved several meetings with the panel. If the panel were unable to see how their feedback was incorporated into the design of a policy, I don't think panel members would be very motivated to contribute useful feedback. One of the main challenges would be setting clear parameters about what could be changed about a policy. I can see a clear role for a panel (or individuals) to be involved in user testing, especially if you were delivering the policy online.

  • Posted by markimark March 07, 2018 at 12:18

    This idea has a lot of merit, but is not going to work all the time. The ACT Government has recently experimented with a Citizens' Panel/Jury on policy surrounding CTP car insurance in the Territory. Has had mixed results so far, but is not yet wrapped up. It's definitely a very recent example to look at and gain insights. These panels definitely need a combination of specialists and average citizens and part of the process of running a panel is an information/education phase where the citizens are properly informed about the issues.
  • Posted by TPhillips March 11, 2018 at 08:23

    Hmm, I am on the fence about this one.

    I understand the rationale to have a group of laypeople committed to giving input across a range of issues, however a standing panel seems like either (a) a focus group, or (b) a shadow parliament.

    You would need a way to get around the adverse selection of people with their own agendas seeking the post. You could draw the randomly like a jury, but few would commit to a series of face-to-face meetings Canberra. If you made the positions representative (say, appointed by community groups) or somehow competitive, you risk creating a modicum of political risk.

    I suggest you call it what it is: a focus group to gauge public sentiment. And avoid the difficulties that would come from having standing membership.
  • Posted by Evansn March 13, 2018 at 11:17

    I am not sure about the feasibility of this concept. Citizen Jurys seem to work well when they are constructed to consider a specific, high-profile issue (e.g. nuclear waste) or local issues where people are likely to be highly engaged. I am not convinced about the cost-return of a standing panel.
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