In early May 2023 we confirmed 45 young Victorians, aged between 15 to 25, for the Infrastructure Victoria Young People’s Forum. These people met online on the evening of Wednesday 17th May and again in person on Saturday 20th May for a full day of deliberations at Melbourne Connect, University of Melbourne. They worked on the question: What matters most to Victorians and how does infrastructure help to achieve it?
Sortition Foundation was tasked with finding a broadly representative sample of 45 forum members. We worked with MosaicLab and Infrastructure Victoria to achieve this. Below we briefly describe the details of this recruitment process; the process slightly deviated from our standard two-stage sortition template due to innovations to include young people who are less likely to respond to postal invitations to participate. This is in conformity with the OECD's good practice principles for deliberative processes for public decision making.
In collaboration with Infrastructure Victoria, we developed promotional materials encouraging young people to register their interest in participating. The invitation included the following social media tile (as well as a letter and FAQ):
Infrastructure Victoria chose to strategically partner with organisations in contact with young people across the state. Infrastructure Victoria sent event information, a draft newsletter item, and prepared social media content to all local councils in Victoria. They requested that these details were shared to each council’s youth advisory body and through other relevant networks and channels. Infrastructure Victoria also shared these invitation materials with Common Purpose, Youth Affairs Council Victoria, Victorian Youth Congress and Vic Health, and other organisations focused on younger Victorians.
All participants in the assembly received $140, an official certificate and social media icon for LinkedIn in recognition of the considerable time and energy that the process asks of them. Financial support of up to $250 was offered to assist with travel and accommodation costs for young Victorians living in the state’s regions, who were selected to attend.
Registrations were open for 5 weeks and at the end of this time around 175 eligible people had signed up as potential forum members.
As part of the sign-up procedure, all potential participants were required to share some basic information about themselves. We asked them to share their address, their date of birth, their gender identity, their ancestry, information about their occupation and if they live with their parents or not. We also asked for information about whether they live in Melbourne, or one of the three major regional cities of Ballarat, Bendigo, Ballarat or Geelong or in a more rural setting.
We then used this information as input into a "sortition algorithm"; this is a process of randomly selecting our 45 forum members from the pool of 175 potential members in such a way that we have a representative sample (so, for instance, the age profile of youth forum members is broadly similar to the age profile of the population of Victoria as a whole). Details of the specific algorithm we use, including information about the fairness of the algorithm, can be found here.
Details of the selection process for this assembly are summarised using the following pie charts, with further information following.
The way to understand these pie charts is as follows:
- Column 1 (Target): These pie charts give information about the population of Victoria as a whole, using various publicly available statistics (for instance via the ABS). As an example, in the fourth row, you can see that 42% of the population of 15 and 25 years olds in Victoria are enrolled in school.
- Column 2 (Respondents): These pie charts summarise the information that was provided to us by the 175 people who signed up as eligible participants. There is some skewing in statistics here compared with our target: for instance, notice that a larger proportion of the respondents were enrolled in tertiary education compared with what one might expect from the population.
- Column 3 (Confirmed Selected): These pie charts summarise information about the 45 people who were finally confirmed to participate in the assembly. Notice that, thanks to our use of a sortition algorithm, the pie charts in this column are very similar to the target charts in the first column. As part of our recruitment process all of these people were contacted by telephone to confirm that they were still willing and able to participate -- in the event that this was not the case, we used the sortition algorithm to replace people who dropped out with others who shared similar characteristics.
What happened next?
The Young People’s Forum was part of a wider programme in preparation for the next update of Victoria's 30-year infrastructure strategy. Given the 30-year timeline for the strategy, Infrastructure Victoria was particularly keen to hear from young voices as the independent infrastructure advisory body developed the overall vision and objectives for the next update. Infrastructure Victoria has a dedicated page where you can keep track of the development of Victoria’s 30 year infrastructure strategy: https://www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/project/30-year-strategy/