Australian experience: Civic engagement as symbol and substance

Head, Brian W. (2011) Australian experience: Civic engagement as symbol and substance. Public Administration and Development, 31 2: 102-112. doi:10.1002/pad.599

Author Head, Brian W.
Title Australian experience: Civic engagement as symbol and substance
Journal name Public Administration and Development   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0271-2075
Publication date 2011-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/pad.599
Volume 31
Issue 2
Start page 102
End page 112
Total pages 11
Place of publication West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract This article outlines how civic engagement has become a distinctive feature of the policy development and review processes of governments in Australia, a federal polity. The patterns of civic engagement are quite variable across policy issues, levels of government and geographical regions. Civic engagement (or community consultation) has become a purposeful and planned dimension of policy development in most Australian jurisdictions since the 1980s. Two main reasons for this development are elaborated: the instrumental arguments about programme improvement and effectiveness, and the normative arguments about democratic legitimacy and rights to civic participation. The role of government-sponsored processes for civic engagement is contrasted with the proliferation of new media and independent civil-society forums available for commentary and advocacy. Key distinctions are drawn between various processes and methods of civic engagement in Australia, raising issues about the scope and authenticity of participation on different types of issues. There are specific challenges of involvement by and for indigenous communities, and the special needs of remote communities whose level of social and economic exclusion remains seriously depressed. The conclusions raise some implications for policy development and for state legitimacy arising from impoverished forms of civic engagement.
Keyword Australia
Civic engagement
Community consultation
Expert forums
Efficiency and legitimacy
Place-based services
Environmental management
Indigenous governance
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Special Issue: Symposium on Governance and Civic Engagement in the Asia Pacific Region

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Created: Thu, 29 Sep 2011, 11:40:50 EST by Professor Brian Head on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies