“Governments regularly hold consultations with their public – asking them for their views on matters as widespread as tax reform, copyright, health, culture and city planning.
Whether these consultations are held through public events, print notices, online via email or social media engagement there’s one constant that governments rely on – that people are willing to provide their views freely to government.
In some ways this might seem a no-brainer. A government is making a decision that will affect you – therefore you have an interest in responding.
However it is never as simple as that. It takes time (our scarcest resource) to respond to a Government consultation. Often, when there are specific forms to complete, processes to follow and events to attend, it can take a LOT of time.
Also the audience needs to feel that they will be listened to.
One of the more interesting consultations I participated in last year was by the ACT government who asked a question around how they consulted.
A frequently expressed view was that many people felt no incentive to participate in government consultations because their views would be ignored. Why waste time responding if you don’t feel your views will make any difference?
Even harder to justify are peoples’ participation in engagements where the public is providing a service to government (or other organisations) for no direct payment.
So what’s the secret to encouraging greater engagement by citizens in consultations and similar ‘you tell us’ initiatives by government?
The answer is simple. Value given for value received.
Most people want feedback to tell them that they have been heard.
eGov AU Blog spot
Spot on Craig