Benefits of e-consultationEdit

Internet access at home is not just mainstream it is becoming the norm. The type of network connection is also quickly shifting from lower speed dial-up to high speed Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or cable connections. In 2005-06, 60% of all Australian households had home Internet access: see Australian Bureau of Statistics

This figure is even higher in metropolitan areas, for example in Brisbane 76% of households have access at home with most (57%) of these having high speed connections.

The benefits of e-consultation include:

  • increasing the ultimate take-up of a policy
  • reducing the amount of resistance to change
  • developing a general sense of civic participation and “being heard”
  • targeting people who operate in an online environment and are unlikely to participate in other methods of consultation, such as young people, some categories of professionals, the time-poor, people in remote areas of your region and people with disabilities
  • using video and other online elements to appeal to various sorts of literacy

e-Consultation makes it possible to:

  • reach more people, more of the time
  • get the views of individuals as well as community group representatives
  • conduct sustained discussion over time, allowing for ideas to grow and develop (not always possible in a one-off, face-to-face consultation)
  • grow relationships between council and community members
  • enable more people to give input as they contribute at a time that is convenient to them
  • provide an environment for persons to comment who may not feel comfortable speaking at a public meeting

e-Consultation can be quick and easy for community members to use, and provide you with fast and direct feedback on policies. This means you can:

  • hold more consultation more frequently if you wish for less cost than print and face-to-face consultations
  • get a broad brushstroke perspective on views quickly and cheaply

Public confidence in governmentEdit

Recent studies have indicated that citizens feel increasingly alienated from their governments. They are demanding greater accountability and transparency from their governments, and want greater public participation in the development of policies that affect their lives (OECD 2001).

e-Consultation can be used as a tool to help citizens participate in government policy making and feel more enfranchised.

An increasing number of people already use the Internet to learn about government services and policies, and to use online government services, such as paying bills and rates. It is only one sideways step to add e-consultation mechanisms to a website, turning the government’s internet involvement into actual dialogue with people rather than just the provision of information.

Local government as the government closest to the people is particularly well placed to use online technologies to enhance and expand participatory democracy.

The importance of developing Web-based technologies for e-governance has been recognized by virtually all States and Territories in Australia (Trinitas, 2002).

In May 2005, the Victorian Parliament’s Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee released its final report on the Inquiry into Electronic Democracy. The core finding of this report “is that the Public Sector of Victoria, its institutions and elected representatives, need to develop the capacity to learn and experiment with the range of opportunities and applications new technologies bring to the democratic process” (Victorian Parliament 2005, p. xliii).
“Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for.”
Adlai Stevenson