A 'fair go' values framework for public policy

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Howard, Cosmo
Petter, Pandanus
Pietsch, Juliet
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There is a growing interest in how policy processes can better incorporate the values of the communities they serve, yet policymakers face numerous challenges when they seek to embed values into policies. This paper builds on existing values research to develop a bespoke policy values framework for Australia, based on the popular notion of a ‘fair go’. While the fair go is often associated with a narrow set of equality and procedural justice values, we show that it has a much wider range of historical and contemporary meanings, which taken together provide a useful starting point for understanding policy values important to Australians. We apply our framework to two policy domains—housing and immigration—to show that it offers an effective heuristic to help policymakers understand key value priorities and conflicts in these policy areas. The paper provides theoretical insights regarding the role of values in policymaking and offers a practical tool for use when designing, implementing, and evaluating policies. Points for practitioners: Community values should inform public policy decision-making in a democracy. However, incorporating values into policy is difficult because of the wide range of different values to consider, the need to manage tensions and conflicts between values, and the time pressures often faced by policymakers. The popular and enduring notion of the ‘fair go’ embodies multiple value positions, which cover a range of different values that matter to Australians, making it a good basis for an Australian policy values framework. Our fair go values framework is designed to serve as a heuristic for policymakers when designing and evaluating public policies. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide to value debates in all policy areas, but offers a starting point for quickly appreciating the key value priorities and conflicts in relation to a policy issue. Policymakers should wherever possible follow up with detailed research to understand the complex value debates of different policy issue areas.

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Australian Journal of Public Administration

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© 2024 The Authors. Australian Journal of Public Administration published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Institute of Public Administration Australia. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

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This publication has been entered in Griffith Research Online as an advance online version.

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Policy and administration

Political science

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Howard, C; Petter, P; Pietsch, J, A 'fair go' values framework for public policy, Australian Journal of Public Administration, 2024