About the Audit

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.

People

The Audit is led by Brian Costar, Professor of Victorian Parliamentary Democracy at Swinburne University of Technology

Professor Marian Sawer, 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:

Norman Abjorensen, School of Social Sciences, Australian National University
Peter Browne, Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology
Norm Kelly, Associate, Centre for Democratic Institutions, ANU
Graeme Orr, School of Law, University of Queensland
Joo-Cheong Tham, Melbourne Law School
Sally Young, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne

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