To consult the Australian public, strengthen the participatory process and outcome Kevin Rudd (Australian Prime Minister) announced in February 2008 an Australia 2020 Summit to help shape a long term strategy for the nation’s future – a strategy requiring long-term commitment and responses beyond the usual electoral cycle. In this connection more then 1000 opinion makers and citizens were invited to give their opinion and provide their input to help shape a long term strategy for the Australia’s future. More then 3600 persons and interest organisations submitted in excess of 8800 suggestions for evaluation and discussion culminating in the Australia 2020 Summit in Canberra 19-20 April this year.
The summit and consultation process focused on ten areas deemed critical for Australia’s future i.e.:
The productivity agenda – education, skills, training, science and innovation
- The future of the Australian economy
- Population, sustainability, climate change and water
- Future directions for rural industries and rural communities
- A long-term national health strategy – including the challenges of preventative health, workforce planning and the ageing population
- Strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion
- Options for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
- Towards a creative Australia: the future of the arts, film and design
- The future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens
- Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world.
Envisaged as a broad consultation on the future direction of the country the Australia 2020 Summit did not embrace ICT to its full extent replying instead on more traditional forums such as the submission of written proposals, an invitation to primary and secondary schools to participate in a series of school summits leading to a youth summit in Canberra (12-13 April) and a number of local summits may be hosted by local Members of Parliament in their respective electorates in advance of the Australia 2020 Summit.
Although the tools chosen the process was supported by a designated website (www.australia2020.gov.au) providing information on the initiative, its progress and outcomes (i.e. eInformation). More interesting in relation to eParticipation the website does have a number of more advanced features including:
Options for online submission of proposals, print out of the submission form (.RTF and .PDF) for each of the prioritised topics plus the relevant instructions
Options for viewing submissions made
Video clips from school and local summits
Live streaming on demand and web casts from the 19-20 April summit in Windows Media and Adobe Flash Player with links to downloads of these plus QuickTime
Videos from the school and in particular the youth summit
Initial and final reports
Lists of participants from both the youth and the final summit
List of people in the steering committee including short biographies
Media hub including a news centre with full transcripts, on demand web casts, image gallery, details on media accreditation and official use of the logo
All in all the Australia 2020 Summit website makes full use of ICT in terms of eInforming and ensures easy access to information and results in relation to the both the public and media. By making the initial submissions, recommendations, reports, lists of summit participants and members of the steering available the initiative also ensure a certain degree of transparency. Unfortunately there is neither contact details included for participants or members of the steering committee nor a blog available for each contact.
Of the submissions made, 1064 are available online including from local summits around the country which in most cases contain multiple proposals and opinions. An added bonus adding to the user friendliness and transparency of the initiative is the fact that online available online can be filtered and are searchable. The filters include the sorting by chronologically (newest/oldest), the ten priority/topic areas, submission ID and name of person, organisation or pre-summit having provided the input, last but not least the submissions can be searched by key words.
Check out the Australia 2020 Summit for further information: www.australia2020.gov.au
Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen, Business and Policy Analysis, Danish Technological Institute