Appendix 5 - Guidelines for government advertising campaigns 
The fundamental principles governing the use of public funds
for government information programs are that:
all members of the public have equal rights to
access comprehensive information about government policies, programs and
services which affect their entitlements, rights and obligations. Access to
information should only be restricted where its provision would jeopardise the
governments may legitimately use public funds
for information programs or education campaigns to explain government policies,
programs or services and to inform members of the public of their obligations,
rights and entitlements; and
government information programs shall not be
conducted for party-political purposes.
Material should be
relevant to government responsibilities
In developing material to be communicated to the public:
the subject matter should be directly related to
the Government’s responsibilities;
consideration should be given to an information
strategy as part of policy development and program planning; but
information campaigns should:
not be instigated unless a need is demonstrated;
clearly identify target recipients; and
be based on appropriate research.
expenditure of public money should be undertaken on mass media advertising,
telephone canvassing or information services, on-line services, direct mail or
other distribution of unsolicited material until the government has obtained
passage of legislation giving it authority to implement the policy, program or
service described in the public information or education campaign;
proposed public information or education campaign covers a matter which does
not require legislation, an appropriation for the specific purpose of the
public information or education campaign must be obtained;
exclusions to these requirements are where major issues of public health,
public safety or public order may arise at short notice.
Examples of suitable uses for government advertising include
inform the public of new, existing or proposed
government policies, or policy revisions;
provide information on government programs or
services or revisions to programs or services to which the public are entitled;
disseminate scientific, medical or health and
safety information; or
provide information on the performance of
government to facilitate accountability to the public.
Material should be presented in an objective,
fair, and accessible manner
The following guidelines are suggested to assist in
determining whether the material communicated is presented in an explanatory,
fair, objective and accessible manner:
Information campaigns should be directed at the
provision of objective, factual and explanatory information. Information should
be presented in an unbiased manner.
Information should be based on accurate,
verifiable facts, carefully and precisely expressed in conformity with those
facts. No claim or statement should be made which cannot be substantiated.
The recipient of the information should, to a
practical and reasonable extent, be able to distinguish clearly and easily
between facts on the one hand, and comment, opinion and analysis on the other.
When making a comparison, the material should
not attempt to mislead the recipient about the situation with which the
comparison is made and it should state explicitly the basis for the comparison.
Special attention should be paid to
communicating with any disadvantaged individuals or groups which are identified
as being within the designated target audience.
Particular attention should be given to the
communication needs of young people, the rural community, and those for whom
English is not a convenient language in which to receive information.
There should be recognition of the full
participation of women, ethnic and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island
communities in Australian society by realistically portraying their interests,
lifestyles and contributions to Australian society. Care should be taken that
this is not done in a stereotypic way.
Material should not be liable to misrepresentation as party
Material should not be directed at promoting party political
The dissemination of information using public
funds should not be directed at promoting party political interests.
For the purpose of these guidelines, advertising for party
political purposes is defined as any information involving the production and
dissemination of material to the public which promotes activities, programs or
initiatives of the Government in a politically partisan or biased manner.
Dissemination of information may be perceived as being
party-political because of any one of a number of factors, including:
what is communicated;
who communicates it;
why it is communicated;
what it is meant to do;
how, when and where it is communicated;
the environment in which it is communicated; or
the effect it is designed to have.
Material should be presented in a manner free
from partisan promotion of government policy and political argument, and in unbiased
and objective language.
Material should not directly attack or scorn the
views, policies or actions of others such as the policies and opinions of
opposition parties or groups.
Information should avoid party-political slogans
Material should not be designed to influence
public support for a political party, a candidate for election or a member of
Distribution of unsolicited material should be
carefully controlled. All advertising material
and the manner of presentation should comply with relevant law, including
broadcasting, media, privacy and electoral law.
Material should be
produced and distributed in an efficient, effective and relevant manner, with
due regard to accountability.
Information campaigns should be justified by a
cost/benefit analysis. The nature of the campaign should be justified in terms
of society’s needs, efficiency and effectiveness, and there should be a clear
audit trail regarding decision making.
Care should be taken to ensure that media placement
of government advertising is determined on a needs basis and targeted
accordingly and without favour.
Existing purchasing/procurement policies and
procedures for the tendering and commissioning of services and the employment
of consultants should be followed.
Navigation: Previous page | Contents
Back to top