In 2007, the WA Department of the Attorney General, through its Sheriff’s Office, initiated a community education campaign to address a significant decline in jury duty participation rates that threatened to undermine the sustainability of the justice system.
Creative Nature was tasked with creating a communications strategy to help increase understanding of the importance of jury duty by correcting misconceptions of perceived or real obstacles that discourage people from performing their community service.
Phase One targeted employers and employees in the major regional centres of the Pilbara, Goldfields and Mid-West where attendance rates were low and claims for excusal largely work related.
Phase Two in the Kimberley began a six month process of close community consultation in areas affected by small jury pools that had potentially large numbers of consecutive trials as a result of the National Indigenous Justice Taskforce.
The campaign has paved the way for closer interaction between the Sheriff’s Office and the WA jury pool, with feedback sparking a number of legislative and administrative reform initiatives.
The Western Australian legal system deals with a myriad of criminal issues. Achieving the balance between a fair trial and a just outcome relies on the jury system.
In managing the jury pool, the Sheriff’s Office had seen declining numbers responding positively to their summonses over the past decade, particularly in regional centres. Difficulties in assembling a jury significantly threaten the stability and sustainability of the jury system.
The Office faced a dilemma: either continue to issue summonses and wait for responses, or better educate the community members about their rights and responsibilities and of the consequences of not meeting civic obligations.
A review of jury numbers and requests for excusal found that many requests related to work. Of significance were those prospective jurors who suggested they would be financially disadvantaged or their employer would not release them because of an adverse impact on business.
Interestingly, many people believed that they would be away from their jobs or families for too long, highlighting that many misconceptions needed addressing.
To add to the already difficult task of raising juries, the work of the historic Indigenous Justice Taskforce, investigating cases of sexual assault in indigenous communities in remote WA, resulted in the potential for an increase in the number of consecutive criminal trials in the Kimberley. Not only were people likely to be called for jury duty, they may be called more than once in a six-month period.
Phase One of the campaign educated the chosen target publics of their rights and obligations as citizens and of the consequences of not attending jury duty. Phase Two addressed the Kimberley community directly, aiming to develop key relationships with industry and community leaders to ensure the flow of information could take place over the longer term and fostering dialogue between the Department and its small but vital jury pool.
As the first campaign of its kind to be undertaken by the Sheriff’s Office, a number of key communication issues were identified through research.
Employers and employees were targeted as the key audience. Due to the impact of the mining boom in regional centres it was vital to communicate to employers the imperative of allowing employees to attend jury duty.
The campaign also needed to address Aboriginal communities. In order to develop culturally appropriate messages, a second creative brief was developed with advice from expert consultants.
The campaign messages were developed from analysis of knowledge of previous and existing issues, campaigns and communications material. Research suggested that a mailout to identified stakeholder groups, accompanied by targeted consultation, would be the most effective method of distributing Phase One campaign materials.
Upon further consultation with local community and industry leaders in the Kimberley, it was determined that the best way to communicate the campaign messages and gather more feedback was to organise a roadshow for a senior Sheriff’s officer. This became the cornerstone tactic of Phase Two.
PHASE 1 – PILBARA, MID WEST AND GOLDFIELDS CAMPAIGN
Phase One target publics were employees and employers, specifically managers and human resources personnel, in the centres of Port Hedland, Karratha, Geraldton and
Kalgoorlie. This included Aboriginal organisations and their employees. Secondary publics, targeted for the ability to disseminate the campaign message to primary publics, included:
- All major Perth and regional media outlets
- Peak employer and industry associations
- Government departments and agencies
- Local governments
- Municipal libraries
- Regional Chambers of Commerce
Aboriginal community management and support organisations
PHASE 2 – KIMBERLEY CAMPAIGN
The primary target public for Phase Two was the potential jury pool in Kununurra and Broome. Secondary publics included:
- Local governments
- Regional Chambers of Commerce
- Media outlets
- Major employers such as TAFE
- Aboriginal community groups
Informed by the research, a plan was developed addressing the campaign objectives for both phases based on a strong central theme, “Be Part of the Balance”.
This theme emphasised the role and power of individuals to make a difference in the jury process. A principal illustration was developed, depicting a group of community representatives positioned on the iconic Scales of Justice. The scales were offset by a judge’s gavel, reflecting the balance between the judiciary and the jury (see Appendix E).
The strategy centred on several key messages, differentiated for specific key publics, including:
Key messages for the WA jury pool
- Every Australian citizen has a responsibility to do jury duty irrespective of their social, economic or cultural background (including Aboriginal people).
Messages regarding excusal
- People who can be excused from jury service as a right, such as care-givers with children under 14, should try to participate anyway.
- Employer support is crucial in making it possible for people to attend, even though it might mean the workplace is under-staffed or under-pressure for a short period of time.
The Kimberley campaign was planned around the need to consult directly with the remote community of Kununurra. Broome was also chosen as a centre for this phase and became the backdrop for the launch by Attorney General Jim McGinty.
In addition to the Phase One messages, Phase Two messages were developed including:
- Potential jurors in Broome and Kununurra may carry a big responsibility this year because of the potential high number of trials arising from the historic child abuse taskforce.
Phase One used an eight-week roll out timetable.
Advertisements in major regional newspapers provided initial visibility for the campaign and helped raise public awareness. Regional radio provided a cost effective mechanism for reaching predominately blue-collar workers in the target locations including mining station Red FM and leading Aboriginal community network Goorlari FM.
In partnership with media officers from the Department of Attorney General, the campaign was launched to the news media in Perth by the Attorney General and attended by dignitaries including the Chief Justice Hon. Wayne Martin and representatives from all major news outlets. Regional launches were conducted by local court staff.
Publicity was generated in mainstream news media, trade publications and internal publications of prominent employers, disseminating messages beyond the paid advertising campaign (see Appendices M, P, and S).
A pack containing a poster, brochures and a letter from the Attorney General was sent to the database of organisations discussed in the section on target publics. A campaign banner was also developed for the launch and to reinforce the message in the jury assembly room in Perth (see Appendices C, G, F).
A second eight-week rollout was implemented for Phase Two.
A print and radio advertising campaign was initiated using the existing campaign creative. However, as research dictated, more emphasis was placed on radio as the preferred method for information delivery in the region. The lynchpin of Phase Two was the increased focus on community consultation represented by a regional roadshow in Broome and Kununurra, led by the Manager of Jury Services, Carl Campagnoli (see Appendices B, O, L).
Over three days, the officer met with key stakeholders in both centres including the local chambers of commerce, the regional TAFE, high profile Aboriginal groups and local councils. This visit included a number of media engagements. The success of the roadshow lay in the careful pre-consultation with targeted organisations, ensuring the visit was both welcomed and fruitful.
In conjunction with the roadshow, several communication tools were prepared including a new DVD presentation, targeted at regional audiences. The DVD included footage of regional centres and courthouses and a script reflecting local concerns (see Appendices T).
As with Phase One, a bulk mail campaign was conducted and included a new Kimberley-specific campaign brochure, a letter from the Attorney General to householders and employers and the campaign poster (see Appendix D, E, J).
A significant result from both phases was the amount and quality of feedback to the Sheriff’s Office supporting proposals for legislative reform.
The Office received letters from potential jurors indicating their engagement in the process and collected important information from the Kimberley roadshow indicating, amongst other issues, that misconceptions associated with jury duty remain.
A positive outcome was the fact that many key publics continued to support the campaign, asking for more materials to display in workplaces.
Media coverage was also strong in both phases (see Appendices M and Q).
Intersector, the WA public service staff publication, ran stories in conjunction with its own coverage of justice issues in WA (see Appendix P).
Carl Campagnoli participated in talkback radio in Perth, Broome and Kununurra with support and feedback on the issue from presenters.
The WA Department of the Attorney General has officially recognised the success of Phase One of the campaign in a release prepared for the Sunday Times (see Appendix L).
Research on the overall effect of the campaign on attitudinal change is pending but an analysis of jury attendances shows more people turned up in the target areas following the campaign. The increase has averaged 10%, indicating success in the achievement of Objective 1 (see Appendix L).
The Clerk of Court in Port Hedland has indicated that while anecdotal evidence shows little change in attendance numbers, more people are applying to be excused instead of just ignoring the summons. There has been a small increase in attendance numbers at Kalgoorlie 2% and Geraldton 3%.
The indicative increase in attendance in Broome is around 9% based on attendance in May 2007 to May 2008. Kununurra has shown an increase of 6% from May 2007 to May 2008.
Evaluation continues as part of the Sheriff’s Office’s commitment to intelligence gathering to support Perth and regional court activities and provide input into legislative reform initiatives.