General engagement standards

Establish and publish some general engagement standards that the APS should adhere to.  The standard would be heavily influenced by the guiding principles of the framework and the accepted fundamentals of good engagement.

Below is an example of what the standards could look like.

General engagement standards

The Australian Public Service will be expected to:

  1. Choose the right approach

Ensure you have chosen the right engagement approach for the problem at hand.

  1. Define the objectives and plan

Clearly define the objectives and engagement plan before the process is launched.

  1. Manage expectations

Ensure you are honest about what is on the table. That is, what is yet to be decided and what has already been decided.

  1. Choose the right people for the job

Ensure participants with suitable expertise, skills and knowledge are being engaged for the problem at hand.

  1. Be transparent about the process

Explain the objectives and process to participants at the outset.

  1. Provide sufficient information

Ensure information that is essential to participants’ roles is made available to them.

  1. Provide opportunities to be heard

Ensure the voices that get heard are not just the loudest ones.

  1. Understand all views

Ensure the views presented are fairly considered at the decision-making stage.

  1. Close the loop

Explain how participants’ contributions were taken into account.

In addition to the generic standards described above, there are specific standards that need to be met depending on your engagement approach. For this purpose, we combined deliberative and collaborative engagement approaches. Both require open dialogue to bring participants into the decision-making process — whether a little bit or a lot — and sharing information or consultation does not.



Deliberate or Collaborate

Specific Standards

  • Is guided by general engagement standards
  • Decision has already been made
  • Intention is to share information after the fact to inform the public about changes or new initiatives
  • Information shared should be concise, user-friendly and comprehensive
  • It should be clear to the reader of the information that the intention is to merely share information


  • Is guided general engagement standards
  • Gives participants an opportunity to present their views to decision-makers, provide evidence and arguments in support of them, and reply to opposing views
  • Decision-makers are duty- bound to assess these positions on their merits, but they are not obliged to accept or act on them
  • Decision-makers are required to provide the rationale for their decisions


  • Is guided by general engagement standards
  • The engagement plan sets boundaries for how far and in what way citizens and/or stakeholders will participate in decision-making
  • The process begins by giving participants an opportunity to present their views to decision- makers, provide evidence and arguments in support of them, and reply to opposing views
  • Once views have been presented, participants engage in deliberative discussions about the best solutions, subject to the boundaries and rules set by the plan
  • These participants are duty- bound to assess different options on their merits and adjust their views accordingly
  • Government must be willing to trust the process to deliver recommendations it could work with

Level of evidence required

Typically sharing information will involve facts arranged to convey meaning to describe an event, new initiative or changes to an existing process.


Ideally this will involve a combination of quantitative data or analysis to support narrative or lived experience.

For more complex problems, a hybrid approach is highly recommended. The narrative or lived experience of participants must be grounded in evidence and facts.


For example, a narrative-building exercise through “town hall” type meeting needs to be combined with policy analysis undertaken by a working group.

Promise to the Public

We will keep you informed


We will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations, and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision.


We will look to you for advice and innovation in formulating solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible subject to the boundaries and rules set by the engagement plan



Why the contribution is important

The establishment of a standard would set a clear expectation for the APS on what is required to effectively engage the broader community, it would also give community members confidence of what to expect from the APS.

by ProjectTeam on April 13, 2018 at 01:58PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 3.3
Based on: 3 votes


Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas