Encourage citizens and stakeholders to get involved in engagements.
Engagements beyond information sharing will require citizens and stakeholders to seize opportunities for public participation, and do so constructively and proactively. Both the public service and the public need to engage for an engagement to succeed.
For public servants, it may not always be easy to encourage the public to engage constructively, even if the engagement is best practice. Many public servants would not be surprised to learn that user research shows that the public is often sceptical about government engagement. They often doubt its quality, and wonder if it is genuine. They’ve had engagement experiences that have left them frustrated and more adversarial.
However, more optimistically, the user research also shows that stakeholders and the public are pragmatic and realistic. They understand that public servants face legitimate constraints on their engagements, and can’t always do best practice. They are also interested in more advanced collaborative and deliberative engagements, and are hopeful of building ongoing relationships with the APS.
To encourage the public, the most crucial elements of the guidance materials to apply are those that will build trust in the process. It will make a big difference to apply the standards to ensure the basics of engagement are in place (particularly being transparent, managing expectations and closing the loop); and using the ways to engage to apply the right engagement tool for the job.