Since 2002 a team at the Australian National University has been conducting Audits to assess Australia’s strengths and weaknesses as a democratic society. From early 2008 the Audit has been based at the Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, with continuing input from researchers at ANU and other universities.
The Audit recognises that democracy is a complex notion, and so applies a detailed set of questions which has already been field-tested in overseas countries. The framework was pioneered in the United Kingdom and then further developed under the auspices of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in Stockholm. IDEA further tested the framework in eight countries including New Zealand. IDEA is currently updating its Audit framework to take account of the experience of further national Audits, including the Democratic Audit of Australia. As noted, our Audit has expanded the framework to include institutions of federalism and also to draw more explicit attention to conflict between democratic values.
The values used by the Democratic Audit of Australia as the basis of assessment are:
- political equality
- popular control of government
- civil liberties and human rights
- the quality of public deliberation
The Audit has benefited from funding under two Australian Research Council discovery grants (DP0211016 and DP0557055). The Audit is also grateful for support from the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia; the National Social Science Visits Program, ANU; International IDEA; the Swedish Government; and the Centre for Democratic Institutions.
The Audit is led by Brian Costar Professor of Victorian Parliamentary Democracy at Swinburne University of Technology
Professor Marian Sawyer School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, who headed the Audit from 2002–07, continues her involvement as leader of the ANU Audit team
Other members of the Audit team include:
School of Social Sciences, Australian National University
Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology
Norm Kelly, Associate, Centre for Democratic Institutions, ANU
School of Law, University of Queensland
Melbourne Law School
School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourn