Been there, done that, still hoping for more

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  • Published 20090602
  • ISBN: 9780733323959
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

LET THE READER beware. Whilst this essay is, I hope, objectively written, it is committed. By that I mean two things. First, it is aspirational. It is driven by a fervent hope – and by far more cautious optimism – that Australia can develop as a participatory society. That goal, in its diverse manifestations, seems to me to be the holy grail of public and social innovation.

History does not seem to be on my side. Trust in governments and politicians is at low levels. A Roy Morgan Research Poll undertaken in 2008 showed that only 23 per cent of respondents gave Federal MPs, and 20 per cent state MPs, a high or very high ranking for ethics and honesty – although it’s worth noting that both groups scored a paltry 7 per cent back in 1998. Confidence in public servants was not much better, at 29 per cent. Meanwhile, membership of traditional organisations such as churches, trade unions and political parties has been declining significantly.

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About the author

Peter Shergold

Professor Peter Shergold is the chief executive of the Centre for Social Impact, a cross-university partnership based at the University of NSW.He was Australia's...

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