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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2013  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2013   
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Measures of Australia's Progress

Participation

Australians aspire to have the opportunity to have a say in decisions that affect their lives
Graph Image for Eligible Australians enrolled to vote

Image: Tick - Progress

The opportunity to participate in decision making and governance processes in Australia has progressed in recent years

    Indicator: Proportion of eligible Australians enrolled to vote

    Why is this theme important?

    Australians told us that it is important that everyone has the opportunity to participate in decision-making that affects their lives. People thought that participation was important at all levels of society, from formal interactions, such as with government or business sectors, to community level interactions. Australians said they could participate in and influence how society is managed by attending community groups, talking or writing to politicians, signing petitions, voting in elections, and in many other ways. Participation in decision-making was also seen as a personal responsibility by Australians. For example, voting in elections was seen as an important activity Australians were required to undertake. For people to become involved in decision-making and governance, they need to be able to access the necessary information and avenues for participation. People discussed the value of participating in genuine consultation, where all peoples’ voices are heard, genuinely considered and a response is received. They also thought that timely decision-making undertaken by elected representatives was important and appropriate. Consultation processes were valuable and complementary to these decision-making initiatives.

    How have we decided there has been progress?

    We have decided that the opportunity to participate in decision making and governance processes in Australia has progressed in the last three years because the proportion of eligible Australians enrolled to vote (our headline progress indicator for participation) has increased.

    In 2013, 91% of eligible Australians were enrolled to vote. This is higher than the proportion three years earlier in 2010 which was 90%.

    Why this headline progress indicator?

    Voter enrolment is an important part of the aspiration for participation in decision making and governance processes.

    The proportion of eligible Australians enrolled to vote is considered a good measure of progress for participation in decision making and governance processes because it is a measure of people's participation in electing governments. When the proportion of eligible Australians enrolled to vote is high, it indicates that people in the community are engaged in determining the governments that make decisions that affect them. Voter enrolment in Australia is also heavily influenced by compulsory voting laws which should be accounted for when interpreting this indicator.

    Quality assessment (see key)

    Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of the concept of participation in decision making and governance processes as described above (based on Aspirations for our Nation).

    Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

    Let's break it down!

    The proportion of eligible Australians enrolled to vote differs for each state and territory in Australia. The states and territories with the lowest comparative rates of voter enrolment in 2013 included the Northern Territory (81%) and Queensland (88%), while the Australian Capital Territory (96%) has the highest rate.

    Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

    But that is not the whole story...

    There is more to participation in decision making and governance processes than the proportion of eligible Australians enrolled to vote. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of participation in decision making and governance processes have progressed.

    Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Voter turnout at federal elections
Involvement in decision making in Australia has regressed since 1998

Indicator: Voter turnout at federal elections

Why is this element important?

Australians thought that involving people in decision making is important because many of the decisions made by governments, businesses, and other institutions in the community affect the lives of all Australians. When decisions made on behalf of the community adequately take into consideration their views, better outcomes can be reached in terms of of supporting community wellbeing.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about participation in decision making and governance processes.

How have we decided there has been regress?

We have decided that involvement in decision making in Australia has regressed in recent years because voter turnout at federal elections (our progress indicator for involvement in decision making) has decreased.

In 1998, voter turnout for the House of Representatives and the Senate was 95%. Twelve years later in 2010, the rate had declined slightly for both houses to 93% and 94% respectively.

Why this progress indicator?

Voter turnout is an important part of the aspiration for participation in decision making and governance processes.

Voter turnout at federal elections is considered a good measure of progress for involvement in decision making because voting is one of the more significant activities people can undertake to influence the systems that govern them. When voter turnout at federal elections is high, it indicates that people are actively involved in making decisions that affect both themselves and the wider community. The level of voter turnout in Australia is also heavily influenced by compulsory voting laws which should be accounted for when interpreting this indicator.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of involvement in decision making.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

Long-term trends show the impact compulsory voting has had in garnering a high voter turnout to Australian federal elections. Following the introduction of compulsory voting at federal elections in 1924, voter turnout at federal elections for both the House of Representatives and the Senate has consistently remained above 90%.

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to participation in decision making and governance processes than involvement in decision making. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of participation in decision making and governance processes have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
A data gap currently exists for awareness and understanding

In MAP there are several types of data gaps where:
1. the concept is not yet developed enough to measure;
2. the concept is important for progress but may not lend itself to meaningful measurement;
3. there is no data of sufficient quality to inform on progress; or
4. there is only one data point, so a progress assessment cannot be made.

A range of indicators are being considered for awareness and understanding. In order to capture the spirit of this idea in a measure, further development will need to be undertaken. We will continue to explore options for a suitable indicator in the future.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to participation in decision making and governance processes than awareness and understanding. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of participation in decision making and governance processes have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Active participation in civic and political groups(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Proportion of persons aged 18 years and over that have actively participated in a civic or political group(s) in the last 12 months.;^ Estimates for the 18-24, 25-34, 65-74 and 75-84 year age groups have a relative standard error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution. * Estimate for the 85 years or more age group has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution. (a) Proportion of persons aged 18 years and over that have actively participated in a civic or political group(s) in the last 12 months.

Source(s): ABS General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2006 & 2010 (cat. no. 4159.0); ABS General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2006 & 2010 (cat. no. 4159.0)

Access to the opportunity to contribute to decision making in Australia has not changed greatly in recent years

Indicator: Proportion of persons active in civic or political groups

Why is this element important?

Australians thought that having opportunities to influence how society is run is important to national progress as it ensures that decisions made that impact the community best reflect the communities' views. They also thought that when opportunities to contribute to decision making are accessible by all members of the community, individual wellbeing is enhanced by empowering and enfranchising people. Moreover, by consulting and engaging the views of all members in the community when making decisions, the ownership of these decisions is shared. Participants in the consultation felt that this would improve cohesion and the wellbeing of the community.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about participation in decision making and governance processes.

How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

We have decided that there has been little change in access to the opportunity to contribute to decision making in Australia in recent years because active participation in civic and political groups (our progress indicator for access to opportunity to contribute to decision making) hasn't moved much.

For there to be progress, we would expect to see an increase in the proportion of persons active in civic or political groups.

In both 2006 and 2010, 19% of people aged 18 years and over participated actively in a civic or political group.

Why this progress indicator?

Being involved in civic or political groups is an important part of the aspiration for participation in decision making and governance processes.

Active participation in civic and political groups is considered a good measure of progress for access to the opportunity to contribute to decision making because it captures whether people are accessing the opportunity to determine how society is managed. When participation in civic or political groups is high, it indicates that there are sufficient opportunities for people to get involved and contribute to organisations that affect social governance systems. However, if active participation in civic or political groups is low this suggests there are few opportunities to get involved.

While the measure assesses participation in civic and political groups, it does not measure the quality of this participation or the specific objectives of the groups involved. Furthermore, by measuring participation, the indicator does not directly assess whether opportunities to participate have improved or gotten worse over time.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of access to the opportunity to contribute to decision making.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

In 2010, persons aged 55-64 years were most likely to participate actively in a civic or political group (24%), while older persons (aged 75 years and over) and younger persons (aged 18-24 years) were those least likely to participate (17% and 11% respectively).

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to participation in decision making and governance processes than access to the opportunity to contribute to decision making. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of participation in decision making and governance processes have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for Overseas-born Australian residents (who have lived here for five years or more) who are Australian citizens

Source(s): Data available on request, ABS Censuses of Population and Housing; Data available on request, ABS Censuses of Population and Housing

Taking responsibility in Australia has progressed over the last decade

Indicator: Proportion of overseas-born Australian residents (who have lived here for five years or more) who are Australian citizens

Why is this element important?

In addition to granting individuals rights to participate and contribute directly towards systems governing society, Australians told us that it is important that people accept and observe the responsibilities that follow these systems. In Australia, civic responsibilities (such as obeying the law, voting in elections, or serving on a jury) as well as social responsibilities (such as treating people fairly and acting with honesty) are all important in ensuring a free and democratic society that supports wellbeing. People thought it was important to national progress that members of the community fulfil their responsibilities to the larger democratic process and feel empowered to undertake civic responsibilities.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about participation in decision making and governance processes.

How have we decided there has been progress?

We have decided that taking responsibility in Australia has progressed over the decade because the proportion of overseas-born Australian residents (who have lived here for five years or more) who are Australian citizens (our progress indicator for taking responsibility) has increased.

In the ten years to 2011, the proportion of overseas-born Australian residents (who have lived here for five years or more) who are Australian citizens has continued to rise from 77.5% in 2001, to 80% in 2011.

Why this progress indicator?

Uptake of Australian citizenship is an important part of the aspiration for participation in decision making and governance processes.

The proportion of overseas-born Australian residents (who have lived here for five years or more) who are Australian citizens is considered a good measure of progress for taking responsibility because it indicates whether new migrants to Australia are adopting the rights and responsibilities of being an Australian citizen. In order to access a number of rights beyond those offered to permanent residents (for example, the right to vote or to stand for public office), it is necessary that new migrants to Australia adopt Australian citizenship. In this context, an increase in the uptake of Australian citizenship can be interpreted, at least indirectly, as an indication of people's willingness to take responsibility for being an active participant in societal decision making.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Indirect measure' This indicator is an indirect measure of taking responsibility.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

Long-term trends show that the proportion of overseas-born Australian residents (who have lived here for five years or more) who are Australian citizens is steadily rising.

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to participation in decision making and governance processes than taking responsibility. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of participation in decision making and governance processes have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.

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