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Australia's First Ever Youth Jury

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Media Release 1
2 February 2003

Australia’s First Ever Youth Jury to be held in Parramatta!

Australia's first ever Youth Jury will be held in Parramatta in July, following a grant of $40,900 to the 'ParraYouthMatters' pilot project from the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affair's (DIMIA) 'Living in Harmony' Initiative.

The 'ParraYouthMatters' project is being coordinated by a team of students who are being supported by The University of Sydney and Southern Cross University. It seeks to assess the impacts of ethnic and cultural diversity on the Parramatta.

Dr. Lyn Carson, the project's manager and a senior lecturer in applied politics from The University of Sydney, is one of the country's most preeminent experts on community consultation and deliberative democracy. Dr. Carson has had extensive experience in the field, trialing one of Australia's first experiments with citizens' juries in Ballina, designing Australia's first combined televote and citizens' jury as well as participating in Australia's first consensus conference and deliberative poll.

The Commonwealth Government's 'Living in Harmony' Initiative is designed to help promote harmony between people and groups from different cultural, racial, religious or social backgrounds in the local community.

Dr. Carson welcomed the funding from DIMIA that will enable the Parramatta community to play host to a truly democratic innovation while bringing together young people from a wide variety of ethnic, cultural, religious, and social groups.

"Democracy, is active, interactive, deliberative and genuinely representative of the wider population.

"We need not restrict our thinking to systems of government--we can do democracy at any time, any place, and age should be no barrier to participation in community decision making.

"The Youth Jury is an ideal opportunity for the young people of Parramatta to be a part of history."

The Youth Jury is based on the 'adult' focused Citizens' Jury model. The Citizens' Jury is a unique form of community-based decision making for several reasons: the participants are randomly selected, the Jury's focus or charge encompasses the concerns of the participants, and the Jury's recommendations are presented to community stakeholders for their consideration and if appropriate action.

"The defining feature of youth involvement in the project will be that their individual views are considered on an equal basis in an environment of respect and cooperation. All youth experiences and opinions are valuable to the Youth Jury's work, and with random selection determining a diverse group of young people, it will be possible for Parramatta to discover what their young people think about the impacts of ethnic and cultural diversity," Dr. Carson said.

The 'ParraYouthMatters' Youth Jury will bring together 16-20 randomly selected young people (typically between 16 and 17 years of age) from the Parramatta Council area. The young people involved will be exposed to differing views on issues of importance to society, and have a chance to interact with key local stakeholders, in order to develop mutually beneficial responses to local challenges.

"The 'ParraYouthMatters' Youth Jury is a youth-for-youth project, in that the project is being run by young university students who can understand where these young people are coming from," Dr Carson said.

"Indeed, one of the key strengths of the project is that the youth involvement in the organisation guarantees a sensitivity towards young people that might not have been possible with an adult-run Youth Jury."

"It may well be that Parramatta not only hosts Australia's first ever youth jury, but the world's first ever youth-for-youth jury."

For more information or if you would like to get involved with the 'ParraYouthMatters' Youth Jury please call (02) 9351 3089 or send an email .

Media Contact: Lyn Carson 9351-3089 or