What we want to do

... provide members, supporters and the public who are interested in governance and in governance change with:

  • quality information and ideas about government and how it works,
  • what makes for good government, and
  • how government can be improved

We want to help people to take action themselves to improve democracy or to join CAPaD in our activity to make change.

Please explore



Governing, elections and things to know about how representative democracy works

Finding out about how government works


General information designed for schools which is a neat summary; from the NSW Parliament. Applies generically for all Australian parliaments.

Have a look at the Animal Kingdom videos.

Museum of Australian Democracy : in Old Parliament House. How our democracy is and how it could be.


Finding out about Elections


The Australian Electoral Commission website has lots of information. The section Learn About elections contains sections on Delivering an Election, Voting and the Government, and For educators.

Of particular interest there are pages for:

Their Information Centre also has lots of useful details.


Australian Capital Territory

The Elections ACT is the body who runs elections in the ACT.

Their Education Section has a wide set of resources.

More specifically they produce Factsheets on various aspects of how the electoral system works in the ACT.

Of particular interest they explain the ACT’s Hare-Clark voting system.


About how the ACT Legislative Assembly works.

The Legislative Assembly website has a set of Resources in the Visit and Learn section.

Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement 2016

Australia leads the world in elections

Salter 2020 Australian democratic reforms that led the world.


Participatory Processes

Stories of Participation

Participedia: Strengthening democracy through shared knowledge: a list of hundreds of participatory experiments and experiences across the world.

Living Room Conversations: Open your ears. Open your mind. Open your home.




Selection by Sortition

Things CAPaD are doing

Raising awareness of new ways for representation

Awakening Democracy by Robust Representation - Pearls and Irritations article by Peter Tait, Beth Slatyer, Sue Ingram and Bob Douglas, 2020. To achieve CAPaD's aim of trusted, accountable representatives engaging the community in decision making and defending the public interest, we believe that one key element of this is choosing candidates who will work with the community in governing.

We are working with Rob Salter. See the paper on electorate level mobilisations at a community levelRevitalising democracy: possibilities for electorate level mobilisations to achieve better parliamentary representation offers ideas of how to facilitate a better relationship between representatives.

This complements CAPaD’s work on helping voters choose candidates based on their own attributes for working with the community, rather than the party policy platform. Look at Rob's video session here.



Government with the people

Promoting meaningful means for community participation

Engaging the community in governing with - the Austrian experience

Manfred Hellrigl: YouTube of his talk "Local development and empowerment, methods and inspiration" at Göteborg 2012, describing practical developments with citizen participation (modeled on Wisdom Councils) in western Austria.

A summary of the “Bürgerrat” [Citizens’ Council] approach from Vorarlberg, Austria.

NewDemocracy Paper: Citizens’ Councils: What are they, and why are they so popular in Austria?

Building trust in deliberative processes

Our report, Citizen Review of 2017-18 participatory deliberative processes in the ACT, reflects our experience of the ACT government's early experiments with deliberation.

The criteria we developed with ACTCOSS against which to assess a deliberative process.

The OECD reviewed international experiences of citizen deliberations. Their report, Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions, is here.

Lyn Stephen's paper tying this all together: Government with the people - building trust in deliberative processes, and slide presentation. The YouTube video is available here.


Sites helping voters get to know their MPs and candidates better



They Vote for You
How do you know what your MP and future candidates is doing for you? They vote on laws. The They Vote for You site lets you find out what they are voting for and against (or not at all).

smartvote Australia
smartvote Australia is a project of the Australian National University. The platform is an adapted version of smartvote, which was first developed in 2003 by Politools in Switzerland.

Vote Compass ABC
Vote Compass is a tool developed by political scientists for exploring how your views align with those of the candidates.

Voteeasy Australia
Vote Easy is a completely voluntary and independent platform, encouraging communities (voters and candidates) to come together without influence to elect strong local leaders.



Elections ACT legislated candidate information statements.



Voteeasy.votesmart US https://voteeasy.votesmart.org/electionChoice

Vote Smart provides free, unbiased, in-depth information about current officials, candidates, issues, legislation, and voting. Non-partisan and nonprofit since 1988. The Voter's Self Defense System.


Things other people are doing

Ideas for stronger democracy

David Mathews in his new book With the People: An Introduction to an Idea (downloadable here) suggests a novel proposition — government with the people. It envisions a form of collaboration that would have government working with citizens, not just for them. People are creators and producers rather than consumers or clients. This approach is informing CAPaD’s work with MLAs and the community.

Governance reformation and transformation ideas.

This is a list of various ideas drawn from multiple sources for changes to the governance, parliamentary and electoral systems that could protect or strengthen democracy in Australia. You can look at these and use them as ideas to look at where you might help make change.

Salter 2020 Measures to improve democracy - a list of ideas for reform.


Organisations facilitating participation and deliberation.

DemocracyCo works with governments, corporates and other organisations who need to find solutions to complex problems and create a social licence for change, together!

MosaicLab works with government agencies, community groups, industry and commercial organisations seeking to invest in quality engagement processes.


Other organisations working in democracy and for the Common Good

Australia Democracy Network: are creating an Australia where civil society is robust and vibrant; public debate is informed, fair and diverse; citizens are engaged, government is clean, open and accountable and the wellbeing of people and the planet comes first.

Industrial Areas Foundation : the USA's largest and oldest network for citizen leadership development.

Sydney Alliance : a diverse coalition using community organising to make Sydney a better place to live.

newDemocracy Foundation : innovating in how we do democracy in Australia.

Australia21 : an independent research organisation focusing on real-world problems, sometimes called "wicked," facing Australia.

The Accountability Lab makes governance work for people by supporting active citizens, responsible leaders and accountable institutions. Our goal is a world in which resources are used wisely, decisions benefit everyone fairly, and people
lead secure lives.


  • Alliance Building: meeting other groups and ACT government people and raising our profile, and additionally through the Citizens Juries and Urban Planning groups’ work.
  • Citizens Juries & Mini-Public Evaluation: a series of Hear the Participants events, and connections with government, academia (Canberra University Institute of Governance and Policy Analysis) through the Deliberate ACT community of practice.
  • Good Citizens Guide: indirectly, worked with the Frank Fenner Foundation on a basic Understanding and Using Government Effectively Manual.
  • Creating the New Story: the Action Group wove this thread into several other action groups’ work.
  • Kitchen Table Conversations Community Dialogue Methods: the Group revised the KTC kit and published it on our website.
  • MLA Accountability / Relationship: mapped out a plan of action, revised the 2016 candidate statements and as arranged a stall at the Southfest event to open dialogue with people about being represented.
  • Resources / Library (good-things-to-read): designed a topic list for our library and continued to collect useful material. This links to revamping the website to make if more accessible.
  • Social Change Training: activity here was immersed in the work of other actin groups.
  • Urban Planning Participation Working Group: continued informally in conversation with residents’ groups and other community organisations and our involvement in various ACT government consultations such as the Better Cities Engagement.

Some ideas about working with governments and community

We hear that citizens sometimes have trouble knowing where to find information about government services and processes, and how they might get engaged.

We believe citizens are more likely to engage in their community when that engagement is made easier and less frustrating. This page helps make this information about services and functions more accessible to residents, enabling them to become more engaged and active in their community by providing links to where this information is available.

Governance reformation and transformation ideas.

This is a list of various ideas drawn from multiple sources for changes to the governance, parliamentary and electoral systems that could protect or strengthen democracy in Australia. You can look at these and use them as ideas to look at where you might help make change.

See these links to find out how people are doing this in other places.

In the ACT:

There is the ACT Government Services webpage and the more specific Community Services Directory.

To have input into ACT Government inquires and decisions, join in at the YourSay Community Panel.

And there is the the ACT Community Directory that helps you find services, community organisations and support groups in the Canberra region.

In other parts of the world:

Citizens UK : organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good.

The Citizen's Handbook : North American, but a mine of resources for community organising, creating a community project, change, participation and deliberation.

Project for Public Spaces : A North American nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.

Making Change

The Commons

The Commons is a social change library. They collect, curate and distribute the key lessons and resources of progressive movements around Australia and across the globe.


Making Change

The Commons

The Commons is a social change library. They collect, curate and distribute the key lessons and resources of progressive movements around Australia and across the globe.

See also our Kitchen Table Conversations Kit

Using the right language: how to talk about Democratic reform.

Dynamic Facilitation as a method.


Why Kitchen Table Conversations?

CAPaD values the kitchen table conversation (KTC) method as a way to connect Canberrans through community-based, self-managing conversations. We believe that many people hosting and participating in KTCs will help create the pre-conditions for people to desire and be able to join in participatory democracy. We want to use Kitchen Table Conversations as a way to bring people together to work toward all our objectives. The primary aims of the KTC method are:
  • to connect people
  • to give them the chance to listen non-judgementally to what others think about things
  • to safely express and develop their own opinions.
CAPaD does not primarily use KTCs as a way of gathering input to Government consultation processes. We do advocate for other community groups and the ACT government to use community dialogue such as KTCs, but we support them to do that where we feel we can add value. The KTC Methods Action Group was formed at the start of 2018. It reviewed KTC materials developed and used by other groups (including SEE-Change in the ACT), and developed its own KTC Kit with optional discussion questions. This was launched in November 2018 and is free for all to use. You can download the CAPaD KTC kit here. Go ahead and develop new discussion topics and modify the process however you wish, and use it for any small-group discussion. CAPaD would love to hear about your experiences and any feedback you might have. Please contact by emailing the Secretary.

What’s in the kit?

  • 1. Summary of the KTC process
  • 2. Why CAPaD recommends Kitchen Table Conversations
  • 3. How the process works
  • 4. The courage to host
  • 5. Conversation agreements
  • 6. Role of the Host
  • 7. Role of the Scribe
  • Attachment A: Conversation guide A: Democracy in the ACT
  • Attachment B: Conversation guide B: What’s important to you? (ACT-region focus)
  • Attachment C: Conversation guide C: Choose your own topic
  • Attachment D: Sample invitation

Opinion, comment and Letters to the Editor

2020 September October

October 16 Article in the RiotACT by Genevieve Jacobs: What do all those candidates really believe? Here’s how to find out

October 8 City News, Peter Tait Getting the Canberra we want to live in. Why invite candidates to tell us about themselves?

October 6 Canberra Times front page advertisement for the candidate statement.

September 17-23 City News Advertorial on our election program.

2020 May: ACT Media coverage: letters to editors about our candidate statement exercise in a letter published in the Canberra Times in mid-May and the City News in late May.

2019 Dec: See our piece in ACTCOSS journal about CAPaD's thoughts on more accountable representation.

2019 Nov: Rebecca Vassarotti reports on our MLA interviews reportExploring political representation in the ACTpiece in RiotACT.

2019 Oct: City News, Peter Tait’s Neat summary of CAPaD’s position on ideas to change ACT democracy.

Media stories

October 2: Peter Tait interviewed on 2XX, updating voters on the election and candidate statements, democracy, and lots more.

2020 August Peter Tait was interviewed on 2XX on Friday 28th August about democracy, our upcoming election, the candidate statements and more. Hear the wide ranging interview at this link.

2020 May Peter Tait was interviewed as part of an ABC piece, Amid a coronavirus pandemic, ACT election candidates are preparing for a very different campaign. “The alliance hopes this year's campaign will force candidates to use such options {candidate statements} to connect with voters. And Dr Tait says that, with the usual campaign tactics suspended and politics out of peoples' faces, voters may turn to candidates' statements to figure out where their vote should fall.”


March 2020: We have explained our broad 2020 Election strategy in Awakening Democracy by Robust Representation in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations and a copy is in our website.


September 2020, 2nd and 9th  Empathy and Collaborative Meaning-Making: An Overview of Citizens’ Councils

The details from the sessions held can be found on this page. This workshop gave a taste of Dynamic Facilitation as a process in the “operating system” of the Citizens’ Councils recently featured in the OECD’s report on “Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions”. It was hosted and facilitated by Rosa Zubizarreta, Andy Paice, Martha Cuffy and Mark Spain.



August 2020 Mark Evans, Democracy 2025 – bridging the trust divide 

The YouTube video in here. The powerpoint presentation is here.



2020 Citizen Review of 2017-18 ACT Deliberative Processes
Lyn Stephen's paper: Government with the people - building trust in deliberative processes, and slide presentation.

The YouTube video is available here.


June 2020 ACT Election - Choosing the candidate who will deliver government with we, the people.

Zoom presentation and discussion.



Video thumbnail: Revitalising Democracy - Rob Salter

May 2020 Revitalising democracy: possibilities for electorate level mobilisations to achieve better parliamentary representation

Look at the session video here.