This page belongs to: APS framework for engagement and participation

Objectives of the framework

The objective of this framework is threefold:

  • First: it provides guidance and support to the APS, to enhance engagement with community expertise to improve policy, program and services, and deliver better outcomes for citizens.
  • Second: it publicly communicates the quality and types of engagements the public can expect from the APS.
  • Third: it reaffirms the commitment of the APS to being accountable to the public and transparent in its operation.

The framework seeks to achieve its objectives by establishing guidance materials, which are:

  • Principles: underlying truths that guide good engagements.
  • Ways to engage: establishing the four key ways that the APS engages with the public.
  • Standards: guidelines of expected behaviour from a public servant when they are engaging.
  • A guide to the right engagement: an interactive decision tool that helps public servants choose the right engagement for the problem at hand.
  • The open dialogue roadmap: builds the case for more deliberate engagements, and sets out a practical method to conduct them in government, called ‘informed participation’.

About the framework

The framework is based on extensive user research and has been developed and tested through a collaborative and open design process. Its content draws on the generous contributions of nearly 1,000 people from the APS and the public.

Engagement took place over three phases (discover, create, deliver) and used three ways to engage (information sharing activities, consultation and collaboration).


Statistics on engagements that helped design the framework

Key milestones in developing the framework, including information sharing, consultations and collaborations across the discover phase (Feb - Nov 2017), create phase (Dec 2017 - May 2018), and deliver phase (June - July 2018)

In addition, both the Open Government Forum and the APS Reform Committee gave oversight during its development.

The framework delivers on commitment 5.2 of Australia’s first Open government partnership (OGP) national action plan. The OGP is a multi-lateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to advance open government efforts around transparency, accountability, participation and technological innovation.

The objective of commitment 5.2 was to establish an APS wide framework to improve public participation and engagement to enhance policy and service delivery outcomes for Australians.

The framework was endorsed in December 2019 by the Secretaries Board as part of the government’s response to the Independent Review of the APS. Endorsement of the framework included an instruction for the APS to apply the framework across all departments and agencies as its official engagement approach.

Research underpinning the framework

You can find the research underpinning the framework in our ‘Hidden in plain sight’ report. It provides a comprehensive business case to improve public participation across the APS. Key resources from the ‘Hidden in plain sight’ report 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.