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Government agencies in Australia have traditionally involved citizens and community in the processes and decisions that affect them. With the advent of e-government and the increasing use of information and communication technologies to enhance government service delivery, opportunities arise for agencies to engage and involve citizens and communities through new channels.
While traditional ways of engaging will still occur, agencies are also exploring online and electronic avenues of involving the community. These measures may include online policy consultation, online discussion forums, e-petitions, e-surveys or even more innovative forms of engaging citizens in virtual space. Business drivers and citizen requirements are key factors in the uptake of these measures by both agency and community.
The rise of broadband and interactive technologies enabled by Web 2.0 bring a stream of digital innovations that are transforming the way people use the Internet to communicate. Specifically, Web 2.0 provides amongst other things, real time interaction, democratized web spaces, user generated content and citizen journalism. People’s use of these new innovations is driving expectations for new approaches to the way government interact. Governments cannot ignore these changing social dynamics, especially in relation to citizen engagement.
As part of the 2006 e-Government Strategy Responsive Government: A New Service Agenda, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) established a set of Principles for ICT - enabled citizen engagement. The Principles were developed in collaboration with the cross-jurisdictional public sector community of practice group (e-Democracy Community of Practice). They are intended to guide agencies considering engaging with citizens using information and communication technology (ICT).
With over seventy nine percent of Australians actively using the Internet, the take up of social computing technologies are fostering greater participation in online forums.
As such the Australian Government has explored the development of an Australian Government e-consultation forum to improve online citizen engagement and promote a consistent and appropriate experience for everyone participating in Australian Government online consultation and engagement initiatives.
An Australian Government Consultation Blog discussion paper was available for public consultation from 24 September 2007 to 1 December 2007. The public were invited to provide feedback regarding the possible functionality and operation of an Australian Government Consultation Blog.
The discussion paper sought views on a range of topics including features, user expectations, registration for participation and posting information, moderation, privacy and security issues.
A total of twenty submissions were received in response to the Australian Government Consultation Blog discussion paper. Fourteen submissions were received from individuals within the community, three submissions were received on behalf non-government organisations and three submissions were received from Government organisations. A summary is provided below.
We would like to extend our appreciation to those members of the public who took the time to make a submission under this process.
In accordance with the consultation process outlined the report on Public Submissions to the Australian Government Consultation Blog discussion paper has been published.
The report provides a summary of the submissions received by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO). This report will be used in conjunction with the results of offline consultation reports, surveys and focus groups to assess the public interest in consulting with government and to identify the requirements and challenges for an Australian Government consultation website.
The final report on government consultation has been released. Consulting with Government – online identifies and highlights the findings of the Public Submissions to the Australian Government Consultation Blog discussion paper, along with focus groups and online surveys conducted to collect public opinion on the use of a government consultation blog or discussion forum.
The overwhelming response for a consultation forum has been positive, with a strong interest for government to use information communication technology (ICT) to engage with the community; helping to develop, review and consider government policy, political topics and interact with citizens. The report represents recommendations for future action and draws attention to issues such as registration, moderation, along with privacy and security.
Review the full report Consulting with Government – online
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