Citizens’ jury on brain injury – report out

If you lost the wealth of your brain’s services to you …

God forbid! as my friend Judy would say, with a tone of voice and look that will dispel dire misfortune now and forever.

… If you or your sister or your partner or child lost some of their brain’s services, what would you want of hospitals, doctors, allied health professionals and health agencies? What would you want of rehabilitation?

You might think the professionals are equipped with all the right expertise, and decisions would flow from there.

If only it were that simple.

Latrobe University researchers in conjunction with the Alfred Hospital hired Annie Bolitho & Associates to design and facilitate a citizens’ jury on brain injury in October 2014. A report drawing together the work of the jury has recently been released.

This diagram from an expert witness presentation by Dr Kate Laver (Flinders University) highlights the complex mix of inputs to the rehabilitation process.

Kate Laver: on rehabilitation
Kate Laver: on rehabilitation
Citizens’ juries are a terrific methodology when it is essential to take values into account. Personal values. Values we hold or might hold as communities and societies.
This piece of evidence from Brain Injury Australia‘s Nick Rushworth made a strong impression on the jurors.
“On a subject like brain injury where there’s so many known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, there’s ONE truth that can bear re-stating here: that brain injury – like other disabilities – tracks social-locational disadvantage. Those people at the greatest risk of a brain injury are drawn from exactly the same populations as those at risk of ANY injury – from backgrounds of low income, low levels of education, high levels of unemployment, poor housing and so on. This might bring it home: half of my hometown Sydney, half of its metropolitan area’s young, risk-taking, severe traumatic brain injuries – the motor vehicle accidents, the assaults – HALF occur between the, what, longitudes of Parramatta and Penrith.”
This information drew out a social values discussion in the jury. ‘What does this evidence mean for us as a society?’ ‘What if this reality could be changed, ameliorated?’ ‘How could education about risks best be targeted?’ The outcome of their discussion was to recommend public education, especially to young at risk males.
The ABI Citizens’ Jury Report_20012015 outlines more about this interesting case study for citizen juries and health. The researchers would appreciate it if you let them know if the report is useful to you. 
Jurors present recommendations to stakeholders (Brain Injury Citizens' Jury)
Jurors present recommendations to stakeholders (Brain Injury Citizens’ Jury)

Doing, thinking, talking

You may have noticed that deliberation often emerges when people are doing things together. Spending time in a car driving to a meeting out of town, participating in a working bee or stuffing envelopes. In a recent workshop, Jade Herriman and I got people cutting and pasting, and making a book. They were putting their minds to what’s important to them about Glenbrook Lagoon in the lower Blue Mountains. At the same time they were hearing from Council some of the issues they face in their decision-making around managing a tricky situation involving weeds, nutrients and people’s feelings about the lagoon.

Here’s more about the workshop and the project. We used strategic questions to raise issues as people selected their materials and worked on their books, and learned a lot about this low-key way of hearing about how people understand a complex environmental problem in their neighbourhood.

Changing mind; making up mind

Just read Stuart Brand’s ‘Whole Earth Discipline, an eco-pragmatist manifesto’. Brand was editor of the optimistic, 70s Whole Earth Catalogue. Now he’s back willing to consider radically different alternative alternatives, in the face of climate change.

He’s undertaken the book in the spirit of debate, and with ‘the long now’ in mind – the future 10,000 years. What bugs him is the pessimism of those who still hold ’70s’ view. He sees them as romantic’mossback environmentalists’. In transformative times, he regards environmentalism’s purposeful agendas as a problem. Why aren’t they willing to change their minds?

He’s changed his. With coal burning as a no no, he’s getting behind nuclear power. This puts him onside with James Lovelock, Tim Flannery and Bill McKibben who gave judicious support to an IPCC proposal that nuclear energy should provide an increased 2% of the world’s energy supply. Brand believes that ‘seizing the century’ involves getting on board with green biohackers, technophiles, GE researchers, urbanists and infrastructure rebuilders.

The book’s very upbeat. It really engaged me. Brand believes  we can’t assume that future humans will be like us, either in terms of available technologies or basic concerns. In other words that having a cautious future orientation is paternalistic. We should be prepared to take steps along the way in an emergent adaptation plan, including nuclear energy. We shouldn’t turn away from anything that limits the burning of coal.

This book is very optimistic about science. Unfortunately, there are no great deliberations in society, either between between scientists, politicians, policy makers or the people when it comes to testing out assumptions about following where science leads. Ever wonder why so many spokespeople give views with the proviso ‘I’m not a climate scientist’?

Maybe that line isn’t really about climate science expertise. Maybe it’s really saying that there’s a lot more to climate politics and culture change than energy related problem solving.

Statistics, science and climate dogs

It’s quite difficult to entice a reader into a book about Climate Change – there’s something so leaden and laden about statistics and science and dispute and above all virtue. So I decided humour would have to help me through. – Ian Mackewan on his novel Solar.

Chris Sounness from Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries does a good job making people laugh. I heard him at a Climate Science Communication Workshop held by the Australian Metereological and Oceanographic Society.

Farmers he works with worry about their water supply and temperature increases. Chris helps them understand what drives wet and dry seasons. Climate indicators such as the Indian Ocean Dipole and the Sub-tropical Ridge are becoming better known through his lighthearted approach to climate learning.

Chris is good at scientific presentations and materials. As a take home message, he and his team have come up with a series of animated Climate Dogs to tell the story, Ridgy, Enso, Sam and Indy.

Check out the climate dogs and see them doing their bit to herd rain in Victoria.

‘I want to get a good discussion going because the Southern Oscillation Index is a great tool for farmers at the end of winter, but at other times, it’s a bit of a rubbish indicator,’ Chris says.  ‘It’s time to expand the vocabulary.’

Many in Chris’ audience may not see climate change as a result of human causality, but they’re becoming more interested.

Hey Chris do you know what Ian Mackewan won for Solar?

A pig and a lot of champagne! (PG Woodhouse Prize)

PS  You can read more of Chris’ writing for ‘climate nuts and grain farmers’ at the-break-newsletter.