Monday, September 28, 2009

Parliament House Clerk advocates online engagement for parliamentary committees

In a recent submission (PDF) to the Federal government's Inquiry into the effectiveness of House Committees, I C Harris, the Clerk of the House, suggested that
Technological developments offer tremendous potential to extend the reach of communities work in times of community participation.
The submission provided an example of how one government committee had successfully engaged with public online forums to inform and encourage participation in inquiries and consultations and also discussed some of the other online tools potentially useful to government consultation processes, for example,
It is possible to envisage committees, for example, hosting on-line forums or blogs and participating in social networking sites in some form to reach groups, particularly younger Australians, and seek their input into particular issues. Use of technology in this way will be a useful adjunct to the more traditional methods of operation for committees.
It also went on to details some of the benefits of using online engagement, such as increasing the reach of consultations and reducing travel costs.

With the Clerk of the House supportive of the concept of online platforms to improve consultation processes, I wonder how long it will take until the parliament - and government departments - begin more broadly using online channels to aid consultation processes.

There does appear to be a limited supply of people with professional skills in conducting these consultations, or even costing and planning them in Australia. I think this presents an enormous opportunity for anyone who has or can build significant experience in the area as they will be in high demand in the future.

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