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“We need to draw a line in the sand”: CEDA report reveals community disconnect in business and government

CEDA’s latest report identifies a critical policy stack and a new approach to policy to reboot economic development and reconnect people to benefits of growth

A new report has identified a way to reboot economic development to reconnect people with the benefits of growth as community trust in business and governments deplete.

The Community for Economic Development Australia’s (CEDA) report identifies five priority areas – critical services, population, technology and data, workplace, workforce and collaboration and institutions – that will matter most to future social success.

CEDA Chief Executive, Melinda Cilento, said: “Too many Australians feel disconnected from the opportunities and benefits brought by economic growth.

“We need to draw a line in the sand and say this is the lowest point of disconnect we will accept. But if we are to bridge the disconnect, we need a new approach to policy and a new operating model for policy development and engagement.”

Cilento said the Australian community is sceptical about the growth benefits available to them with businesses in some sectors not doing the right thing and the rapid depletion of regulatory resourcing and capacity contributing to community distrust.

“Australia’s past success provides strong foundations, but we need to start thinking about policy reform differently, to develop new policy solutions and capabilities that can be plugged in and updated to secure economic development as circumstances change.”

She added that technology has a huge potential to drive change, but the focus needs to be on technology in the public interest. Policy reform should also be less about reforms and more about the agility in policy making that taps into community expertise.

“In a technology driven rapidly changing world, we can’t expect government to hold all the expertise and answers, which is why we need better models that allow the public sector to build capabilities and to tap into other sources of expertise,” Cilento said.

Cilento added that Australia can no longer afford to have businesses and government in separate silos and it is unacceptable to pursue their own interests and assume that the community will simply accept what is delivered.

The report found that the community has less trust in the government than it does in business, with 56 per cent of Australians reporting that government is the most broken institution, compared to 42 per cent globally. CEDA attributes this sobering result to Australia having had six Prime Ministers in just the last decade.

The shortfalls and challenges are demanding a far more constructive and collaborative approach across the government, business, workers, community and not-for-profit sectors, with CEDA reporting that no one sector on their own can rebuild trust or deliver breakthrough solutions to problems that will improve people’s lives.

“Ensuring that our social compact remains strong and relevant in the face of changing workplaces and business models, for instance, will be essential to retaining community confidence in the benefits of technology and its adaption,” Cilento said.

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