The Australian Citizens' Parliament: Forging shared identity through public deliberation

Janette Hartz-Karp, Patrick Anderson, John Gasti, Andrea Felicetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Active citizen participation is increasingly being recognized as essential to effective public policymaking. A key challenge for public administrators is how to effectively engage constituents' diverse viewpoints in sound deliberation that will likely result in coherent, agreed judgments. This paper investigates one such public deliberation process, Australia's first Citizens' Parliament, which brought together 150 randomly sampled Australian citizens charged with the task of formulating concrete policy proposals to be considered by the Federal government. One unexpected outcome of this initiative, especially given Australian ambivalence about nationalism, was the emergence of a shared identity among participants that appeared to bridge cultural and geographical divides. We explore linkages between salient elements of the deliberative process, the emergence of a sense of 'being Australian', and the final agreed list of policy recommendations that indicated an understanding of and commitment to the 'common good'. If the emergence of a shared identity is acknowledged as a key to the development of a coherent public voice, then further examination of these linkages will be critical to the efficacy of future public deliberations. Moreover, given the heterogeneous nature of the Australian electorate and the challenges inherent in the country's federal governance structure, the findings have significant implications for policymakers in similar constituencies, notably the EU and the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-371
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Public Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Administration
  • Political Science and International Relations


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