Working paper

Local government and community engagement in Australia

7 Nov 2011


This working paper provides a national update on what is taking place across the local government sector in relation to community engagement, and identifies ongoing challenges and questions for councils in engaging communities. It is part of a series from ACELG’s Research and Policy Foresight program. See also the annotated bibliography, ‘Community Engagement Resources for Local Government’ produced in conjunction with this report.

The research addresses the following questions:

  • What are councils in Australia currently doing to engage communities in decision making?
  • What are some stand-out examples of effective practice?
  • How do moves to more extensive and direct community engagement impact on the roles of elected councillors and how have “representative” and “direct” democracy been combined most effectively in local government?
  • What is the role of organisational culture, policy, resourcing and staff expertise in the suite of engagement approaches offered?
  • To what degree have deliberative approaches been taken up by councils in Australia, and what have the challenges and successes been?
  • What typologies of engagement exist and which of these seem to best reflect the diverse array of engagement activities taking part in the sector?
  • What are the ongoing questions and challenges for councils in engaging communities for the second decade of the 21st century?


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