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Community cabinets in Australia


A new Background Note examines the background, context, approach and activities of community cabinets in Australia. Community cabinets are part of a broader sweep of community engagement initiatives that have been introduced by Australian governments since the 1990s, principally as a means of addressing declining community trust in governments and opening up the policymaking process to greater scrutiny.

Community cabinet meetings were introduced by Queensland’s Beattie Government after the 1998 state election. The approach was adopted by the Rudd Labor Government following the 2007 Commonwealth election, fulfilling an election promise that Commonwealth ministers and senior officials would travel to regional areas of Australia to meet with local communities. The model has also been adopted, in various forms, by most state and territory governments. The Background Note describes the community cabinet concept and its development in Queensland, and examines how the model has been applied at the Commonwealth level, including information about the location, format, content and cost of meetings. The paper then considers the different approaches adopted by respective state and territory governments, and concludes with a selection of views that have been expressed about the effectiveness of community cabinets as a means of engaging citizens in government policymaking.
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