Go to top of page

Transparency and community engagement

A central feature of the Commission’s processes is the opportunity for people to participate in and scrutinise its work. Engaging with the community through open and transparent processes ensures that the Commission’s research and policy advice is informed by those who are interested in, and affected by, that advice and that the analysis is tested publicly.

The Commission conducts public hearings, calls for submissions that are made publicly available, and publishes draft and final reports. Roundtables, workshops and other forums provide valuable opportunities for the Commission to access wider sources of expertise in its inquiries and research.

The Commission provided a range of opportunities for public participation in each of the inquiries and studies completed in 2018‑19, including public hearings, forums, workshops and the release of papers for public comment. For the majority of inquiries and studies completed in 2018‑19, the Commission released an issues paper, issued a draft report or equivalent and held two rounds of submissions to allow written participation from interested parties. The exceptions were the Review of the National Disability Agreement and the research on growing the digital economy, for which processes were tailored to the nature and timelines of the project.

During its 2018‑19 inquiry activities, the Commission met with approximately 514 organisations or groups, held 23 days of public hearings, and received 1499 submissions. And for studies, the Commission received a total of 166 submissions during the year.

A number of inquiries provided opportunities for ‘brief comments’, a more informal avenue for feedback compared to submissions. The Mental Health inquiry received 180 brief comments during 2018‑19, in addition to the 537 submissions it received following the release of the issues paper in January 2019. Further, the Indigenous evaluation study team commenced taking oral submissions.

Examples of consultation processes with a regional focus in the past year are illustrated in box 2. The Commission also used a variety of means to communicate with inquiry participants during 2018‑19 (box 3).

Box 2

Regional consultation processes

Several Commission inquiries and studies undertaken during the year had a pronounced regional focus, including the Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Five‑year assessment, the Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payments study, the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy and the study into Expenditure on Children in the Northern Territory. For each of these inquiries and studies, the Commission undertook extensive consultation in regional areas and adopted a range of consultation formats.

For example, for the study into Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payments the Commission consulted in selected remote areas across Australia from March to May 2019. These consultations included 10 community forums which were open to the public and were held in locations such as Normanton, Andamooka, King Island, Lord Howe Island and Broome. These forums provided an important avenue for consultation and opportunity to exchange information and views on issues relevant to the study.

The Commission engaged with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to inform the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy. To date, this has involved visits and meetings in various locations, including the Kimberley, Northeast Arnhem Land and the Torres Strait. The study has also commenced taking oral submissions.

Box 3

New methods of communication in 2018‑19

During 2018‑19, the Commission communicated the messages of its reports in various ways.

For example, the Commission released a two minute video titled A Better Way to Support Veterans to coincide with the release of the draft inquiry report on Compensation and Rehabilitation for Veterans in December 2018. The video was produced for social media and specifically targeted veterans and their families to raise awareness of the draft report. The total number of views across social media was around 180 000, allowing the Commission to access audiences that might not have otherwise been aware of the report. The Commission also released a video to coincide with the release of the five‑year assessment of the Murray‑Darling Basin Plan.

The Commission launched a research paper on the demand driven university system with a live streamed panel event in June 2019. The Commission’s Chair, Michael Brennan, was joined by an expert panel to discuss higher education, school achievement, access and performance and potential policy solutions.

In its government performance reporting work in 2018‑19, there was extensive consultation with all Australian governments through processes agreed by the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision. The Commission provided opportunities for the public to provide feedback on its government performance reporting and analysis work via the Commission’s website.

As part of its open and transparent processes, the Commission makes key data sets and modelling available. In 2018‑19, this included releasing new material and modelling from the Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation inquiry and the superannuation inquiry, as well as data supporting the Commission’s research papers on Rising Inequality? A Stocktake of the Evidence and The Demand Driven University System: A Mixed Report Card.