Trends in public service reform, especially the 2010 Declaration of Open Government, encourage a ‘culture of engagement’ and collaboration with citizens. Since 2004-5 there have been a variety of approaches developed to improve such ‘engagement’ with Indigenous people by various jurisdictions, but Indigenous people frequently express frustration with how governments engage with them, and ‘consultation fatigue’ is a common outcome. This paper provides an overview of the research-based evidence on what works and doesn’t work in relation to ‘engagement’ with Indigenous Australians. It will examine what research indicates are the necessary conditions to enable governments and others to engage effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as what research says about how conditions for effective engagement between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can be enhanced. This research was conducted for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse.
Janet Hunt is a Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research.