Issues Deliberation Australia/America
Issues Deliberation Australia/America (IDA) is an international nonpartisan public policy and political psychology think tank co-based in Adelaide, Australia and Austin, Texas. IDA was founded in 1999 with the goal of establishing an organization to encourage education and public debate on important issues facing Australia, America, and the world, with a subsidiary mission of conducting research on the public approach to these issues and public decision-making processes. It is incorporated in Australia as an Approved Research Institute and tax exempt charity, and in America as a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation.
Work in Australia
In Australia, IDA is known for its use of Deliberative Opinion Polling, an approach to polling which incorporates focused small-group discussions conducted over a multi-day meeting and is considered by its theorists to provide a superior measure of informed public opinion than other forms of polling. Working with the Australian national and local governments, IDA has conducted four deliberative polls in Australia covering the topics of whether Australia should become a republic (1999), Reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians (2001), the formation of a bill of rights for the Australian Capital Territory (2002) and parliamentary reform in South Australia (2003). In 2007, a national Deliberative Poll on Australian Muslim non-Muslim relations is being convened in Canberra.
IDA has been criticized by some commentators for perceived bias in the speakers at Deliberative Polls (1). However, other observers have argued that these biases are overblown by critics (2), and that like other Deliberative Polls around the world, the informed national dialogue facilitated by the bringing together of a random sample of citizens with competing experts, counters typical flaws in traditional opinion polling.
IDA's international work has focused on the psychology of terrorism. In August 2004, IDA brought together 90 of the world's experts on managing fear and terror to develop a menu of strategies for managing the psychology of fear and terror from the individual to the global. These strategies were published in a White Paper, Managing the Psychology of Fear and Terror: Strategies for Governments, Communities, Individuals and Service Providers and a film: BEYOND FEAR, Finding Hope in the Horror. In September 2006, this documentary was screened on Capitol Hill, as part of the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The four Congressmen who Co-Chair the two Congressional Caucuses dealing with mental health, co-hosted this screening. Additional screenings are planned in the Parliaments of other countries, including Australia and Canada.
IDA conducts also research in political psychology using traditional social scientific methods. This research includes investigations in identification and voting behavior, the role of women in boards of directors, and the response of populations to large-scale attacks or natural disasters. As an outgrowth of the latter line of research, IDA was responsible in 2006 for the establishment of Psychology Beyond Borders, an international nonprofit focused on the research and treatment of the mental and community health impacts of terror and natural disasters.
1. Brunton, R. (2001). Subtle bias to polling groups. Courier Mail, 3/3/2001, pg 26.
2. Dunlop, T. (2001). The deliberative poll offers new hope. On Line Opinion: 2/28/2001