There has to be a real sense of value for investment – if I invest time in participating, I need to know that what I say will either trigger an action to remedy a wrong, or be seriously considered as an innovation in a policy if it’s backed up. I think arms length NGOs where government is a partner but not a controller should be considered. The ICD project (in collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Commission and with support of the Attorney General’s department points the way to the innovative use of web 2.0 with diverse communities. The ICD recognises it has to create value that will draw participation – both contributions and resource use. Government is good at allowing and supporting such work, not that great in doing it.
Everything that government uses taxpayers’ funds to collect, create or produce should (subject to privacy) be available for public perusal. In particular government social research is enormously valuable for communities across Australia and should be easy to access and usefully framed.
The Institute for Cultural Diversity has been developed because it is doing something that governments cannot do, it is empowering people from many diverse cultural backgrounds to engage with each other in forming their ideas about the future Australia they want to live in. The Institute () is an NFP company, dedicated to the idea that Australia can be a more democratic, creative and productive society if it pursues policies of social inclusion and cultural diversity. So the critical issue is trust — and building communities of interest online that allow free frank but protected conversations means that trust can be tested and built incrementally. Government cannot demand it, nor is Government automatically a trustworthy partner.