Draft commitment: Enhance public participation in government decision making

This is a draft commitment for Australia’s first National Action Plan (the Plan).

Australia will work towards improving public participation and engagement to enhance policy and service delivery outcomes for Australians.

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This commitment reads:

We will work together to improve public participation in government decision making for better policy development and service delivery outcomes

Read rest of the draft commitment in full (one page) and give your feedback. This will be published here, and given to the Interim Working Group who will consider all the public submissions.

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Here’s what people are saying:

What would make this commitment better?

Cath Elderton says
For all public sectors leaders (lets define leader as anyone with any level of management responsibility) to also do work that’s focussed on better understanding their inner selves, so they can develop a clarity about their intentions and purpose as public servants, and build their skills as leaders and followers. This might involve learning about Deep Democracy, Open Space Technology, Action Learning, and other methods and tools for collaboration and conflict transformation. I notice the reference to IAP2, which is also heartening in your submission.
Crispin Butteriss says
The current form of words provides no confidence that change is imminent. The phrase “will work towards” is weak. There is no timeline to indicate expectations of departmental adoption of the statement’s intention (in practice, let alone in spirit).
Something more like this would represent a much stronger commitment: “Australian Government agencies will collectively demonstrate global public participation leadership by adopting, resourcing and implementing leading practice P2 polices, structures, processes and methodologies, and digital technologies to enhance policy development and service delivery outcomes for Australians by 2018.”
I’m sure committee members are familiar with the work of the IAP2. While the Spectrum is dated, the Core Values have stood the test of time and provide a good basis for departmental adoption of P2 policies for decision-making. It would be good to see these, or a variation thereof, included in the statement:
  1. Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
  2. Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.
  3. Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.
  4. Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
  5. Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
  6. Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
  7. Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.
Joe Waller says
 I feel that there needs to be: – a deep explanation of the current state of the engagement across the different levels of government. -More focus on the capacity building in the design of engagements rather than just default to the status quo. – a commitment from organisaitons to provide a supporting environment for consultation managers to move beyond the status quo. – a greater understanding about the resourcing, skill set and commitment to facilitate engagements.
Dr. Robyn Cochrane says
Really pleased to see Australia’s first Open Government National Action Plan underway. Some points for consideration:
  • Commitment 2.1 – the commentary refers to a $50M Smart Cities and Suburbs Program incentive for local councils to open up their data and collaboration. Explicit references to local government as a ‘government actor’ and inclusion of a local government ‘milestone’ might be useful additions.
  • Commitment 2.2 – the inclusion of IAP2 Australia practitioners as ‘non-government actors’ and/or ‘proposal submitters/presenters’ to expert panel members may assist to progress this Commitment. Commitment 3.3 – a reference to CSIRO alongside ‘Data61’ might add clarity.
  • Commitment 4.3 – the $10,000 threshold value for reporting government entity procurement contract may be worth re-considering, particularly if this reporting mechanism is not automated. Significant volumes of good and services procurement contracts are likely to processed by government entities annually – is a contract value of $10,000 or less likely to be of public interest?
  • Commitment 5.1 – a permanent dialogue mechanism is admirable, if inclusive and publicly accessible and not exclusive to specific multi-stakeholder groups. Members of the public may have relevant and valuable contributions to make from time to time so a stand-alone, centralised consultation hub with regular reporting and ‘opt-in’ for updates functionality could be viable.
  • Commitment 5.2 – the inclusion of IAP2 Australia Board and/or practitioners as ‘non-government actors’ as they are professionals operating in this space. Consider inviting IAP2 practitioners to be contribute to and review pilot initiatives. Thank you for this opportunity to contribute.

Mel Flanagan says:

My comments and suggestions are on specific sections:


“Australia will work towards improving public participation and engagement to enhance policy and service delivery outcomes for Australians.”

This commitment could be stronger. I recommend the wording “work towards improving” be changed to “will improve”.

To implement this commitment, I strongly recommend the government commit to embedding participatory design into the design of policy and government services.


“To design and adopt a whole-of-government framework that embeds meaningful, open, public and multi-stakeholder participation into the business of policy development and service delivery.”

I suggest the language in this section be more specific and changed from “multi-stakeholder” to perhaps communities of interest. The aim of changing the language is to ensure participation with communities impacted by the policies and services.

I suggest the words “in the business” be replaced by “in the whole lifecycle (conception, design, implementation, delivery) of policy and service development. “

Other recommendations:

To deliver true public participation, my recommendation is the Government should create an initiative under the National Innovation Agenda or establish a new procurement framework for private enterprises and non government organisations to pitch unsolicited proposals to government, access funding to develop and prototype ideas, and collaborate with government in designing and delivering online and offline solutions to enhance participation.


Suggest Add – Ensure timely public participation.



Digital Transformation Office co-create, improve and more effectively use

Establish a funding initiative similar to the Business Research and Innovation Initiative “challenges” to provide opportunities for businesses and non government organisations to collaborate with government departments and the digital transformation office to design and develop ways to deliver open government and develop new services to meet specific needs.

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