Local government community engagement practices in Australia: Development and consequences of the local democracy industry

Stream: Panel 2 - Comparative Politics: Governing the Urban: Tales of Different Cities 
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Public participation in decision-making is a staple of democracy and at all levels of government. What is new, however, is how it has been interpreted and how it has developed in recent years. All Australian local governments have legislative requirements for consultation and engagement and many have community engagement policies and frameworks and dedicated community engagement professional staff. The emergence of this “community engagement industry” has consequences for democracy and urban governance, some intended and others unintended or not as yet considered. After presenting an overview of the key features of this new industry, this paper will identify key drivers, actors and directions in local government community engagement in an attempt to unearth some of the intended and unintended consequences of the “community engagement industry” and the role of communities in local decision making.


Helen Christensen (Presenter), Institute for Public Policy and Governance, University of Technology Sydney