How can people in Wales shape their future?
This July, 60 people will take part in a Citizens’ Assembly to make recommendations on how everyone in Wales can shape their
future through the National Assembly for Wales.
Who will form part of the citizens’ Assembly?
The citizens’ assembly will be made up of 60 people, representative of Wales’ population aged 16 and over.
Participants were invited from 10,000 randomly selected addresses across Wales.
What will the Citizens’ Assembly focus on?
The question this citizens assembly will address is ‘how can people in Wales shape their future?’
They will be given the opportunity to hear expert evidence and examine examples from other countries of how people can have a greater say in the democratic process.
They will explore and suggest new and improved ways that citizens might be able to do this through the work of the National Assembly for Wales.
What Will the outcome be?
Later in the year the National Assembly Commission will publish the conclusions of the citizens’ assembly.
It will use the citizen’s assembly’s conclusions to inform its work. The Assembly Commission will also respond to the recommendations at a public meeting that will take place in September 2019.
The Assembly Commission is working with two organisations to help it deliver the citizens’ assembly.
+ WHAT IS A CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY?
A citizens’ assembly is a group of people who are brought together to discuss an issue or issues and reach a conclusion about what they think should happen.
The people who take part are chosen so that they reflect the wider population. This is in terms of demographics (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity, social class) and sometimes also relevant attitudes (e.g. their existing views on the topic the citizens’ assembly is considering).
Citizens’ assemblies give members of the public the time and opportunity to learn about a topic. Participants hear from a wide range of specialists and get to question them. The specialists can include, for example, academics, researchers, people with direct experience of the issue and campaigners. Through this process participants hear balanced evidence on the topic. They then discuss what they have heard with one another and decide what they think.
Citizens’ assemblies usually last for one or more weekends. Independent facilitators are there at all times to help ensure everyone’s voice is heard. The conclusions of the citizens’ assembly are written up in a report that is presented to decision makers
+ HAVE THERE BEEN CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES BEFORE?
The first citizens’ assembly took place in Canada in 2004. The government of British Columbia set it up to discuss whether or not to change British Columbia’s voting system. The citizens’ assembly recommended a new system, and this was put to voters in a referendum.
Other citizens’ assemblies have taken place elsewhere in Canada, as well as in Australia, United States, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland, among other countries. The recent citizens’ assembly in Ireland looked at issues including abortion, equal marriage and the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population.
In the UK, citizens’ assemblies have looked at issues including:
- How adult social care in England should be funded long-term
- The future of social care in Northern Ireland
- What trade and migration policy should be after Brexit
- Issues to do with the water, postal and energy sectors
- Priority issues for the NHS.
Events similar to citizens’ assemblies but on a smaller scale have often been held in the UK and elsewhere. These are sometimes called citizens’ juries, as they are similar to juries in criminal trials. In a citizens’ jury, twelve or more members of the public hear the evidence before discussing the issues and making recommendations.