Community cabinets were introduced by the Beattie Labor Government in Queensland in 1998 as a mechanism for encouraging greater community engagement with the processes of policymaking. Whilst similar approaches have been introduced in other countries to encourage more direct dialogue between governments and citizens, the community cabinet model appears to be an Australian phenomenon, having been embraced by the Commonwealth Government and most of the state and territory governments.
This background note outlines the background, context, approach and activities of community cabinets in Australia within the context of recent research on community engagement in policymaking. It begins with an explanation of the community cabinet concept and its development in Queensland, and examines how the model has been applied at the Commonwealth level, including information about the location, format, content and cost of meetings. The paper then considers approaches adopted by the respective state and territory governments, and concludes with a selection of views that have been expressed about the effectiveness of community cabinets as a means of engaging citizens in government policymaking.
Image: Yeronga State High School, David McKelvey / flickr