Main navigation

Enhancing public participation in government decision making

Main content area
Open government national action plan 2016–18: commitment 5.2
Publication Date: 
August 2018

Our department’s responsible for commitment 5.2 in Australia’s first open government partnership national action plan 2016–18.

Commitment 5.2’s key output is to establish a new Australian Government framework for public participation and engagement.

Public policy problems are increasingly complex, and occurring in an environment of declining trust in government. Numerous reviews, senior public servants and academics have emphasised the need for the Australian Public Service (APS) to reduce complexity, and build trust by bringing more people and expertise into its work.  

Better engagement may help the APS translate technical, academic and practical advice into accessible, policy and program related conclusions. 

An APS wide engagement and participation framework will raise awareness of engagement methods and benefits, and build capability in how government engages with the public.

Commitment 5.2 is delivered over the following 3 phases:  

Discover: March to August 2017

We published the discover phase report ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ in December 2017, following extensive consultations with public servants and the public.  It is an invaluable resource for any public servant wishing to improve public engagement and participation.

The report provides a comprehensive business case to improve public participation across the APS. 

Key resources include: 

  • user research on APS public participation
  • APS public participation stock take 
  • good practice participation case studies (these provided inspiration and context for our findings)
  • a review of publications and views on participation, from senior public servants, practitioners, thought leaders and academics
  • personas representing public servants and the public, which can help public servants empathise with their users while planning and undertaking engagement activities 


Discover phase report 'Hidden in plain sight' full report – 2017 [6.4MB PDF] [24.6MB DOCX]

Discover phase report ‘Hidden in plain sight’ summary – 2017 [5.9MB PDF] [365KB DOCX]  

Literature review database – 10 August 2017 [115KB XLSX] 

Draft discover phase report – 14 July 2017 [943KB DOCX]  

Create: September 2017 to February 2018

Work with government agencies, the public and organisations outside the APS to develop and implement the framework. 

Workshops and presentations 

  • We ran ideation workshops to share what we found in the discover phase, then drew on workshop findings to generate, prototype and test ideas for the framework. 
  • Participants generated over 400 ideas which were incorporated into 17 concepts. The concepts formed the basis of the concept report. 
  • We ran workshops with over 70 people from the APS and public to test the concepts. 
  • We continued to test and refine our findings, resulting in the prototype framework. 


Concepts report [2.1MB PDF] [10MB DOCX] 

Prototype report [9MB PDF] [3.4MB DOCX] 

Workshop feedback [450KB PDF] [57KB DOCX] 

Please note the workshop feedback is a collection of raw feedback, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the department. We are sharing for transparency, but also to stimulate the conversation around how to deliver a practical framework.

Deliver: mid to late 2018 

This phase includes:

  • iterating the prototype framework based on workshop feedback, then sharing the updated version across APS agencies for comment
  • seeking endorsement from the Secretaries’ APS Reform Committee
  • releasing components of the framework from July 2018
  • undertaking pilot public participation initiatives, including working with the Business research innovation initiative challengers to more effectively use digital channels for engagement

Outputs from this project

We have now created the APS framework for engagement and participation.

Read more