This page belongs to: APS framework for engagement and participation

How we developed the framework

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

Full discover phase report: 'Hidden in plain sight' 2017

Read the full report.

Summary of discover phase report 'Hidden in plain sight'

Read the summary of the report 'Hidden in plain sight'.

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. 

Workshop feedback

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 included:

  • 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.