On 19 June 2018 NSW Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Tydd released the Charter for Public Participation - a guide to assist agencies and promote citizen engagement (the Charter).
Public participation, also described as citizen engagement, is a fundamental tenet of democracy and Open Government. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommends that in order to embed public participation as part of their core business, governments should provide:
- strong leadership and commitment
- coordination of public participation across and within government agencies
- adequate financial, human and technical resources
- appropriate guidance and training
- a supportive and accountable organisational culture.
In response, the NSW Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Tydd developed this Charter with the aim to assist NSW agencies to seek effective public input into the development and delivery of policies and services.
The Charter is underpinned by NSW's Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act), which has as its object to advance government that is open, accountable, fair and effective. The GIPA Act outlines the rights of the public in accessing NSW government information.
The Charter provides a practical and principle-based approach for embedding public participation in agency decision-making frameworks and policy development. It brings together leading authorities and resources to build capacity and guide the NSW public sector in engaging with the community.
It provides further guidance, tools and case studies to assist in planning for and conducting effective engagement to promote and achieve meaningful public participation, including:
- a framework for developing a policy on public participation
- a guide to encourage, enable and embed effective citizen engagement in policy design and development, thereby building public confidence in government decision-making processes and service delivery outcomes
- a practical and flexible roadmap to guide agencies in embedding public participation in agency frameworks
- practical information, steps and tools for planning effective engagement with citizens
- useful examples of successful public participation.
Key elements of the Charter's toolkit include resources to assist agencies in:
- Citizen engagement planning and risk management
- Stakeholder mapping
- Effectively resourcing agency citizen engagement activities
- Engaging online
- Citizen engagement and meaningful measurement.
Agencies are encouraged to:
- Commit to public participation and develop a specific vision and set of principles relevant to their agency
- Implement public participation through a structured planning and delivery approach
- Maximising and evaluating the impacts of public participation.