If there is a criticism of deliberative democracy it is that those who are included in deliberations frequently represent the well-educated, articulate, generally male, dominant majority who can engage in rational debate. This effectively excludes citizens who are less articulate, who may prefer different styles of interaction, or who are otherwise subject to discrimination such as women and visible minorities. Many immigrants fit the profile of those who are generally excluded.
This research project takes the policy maker’s perspective and focuses on the engagement of immigrants in the development of health-related public policy, comparing Australia and Canada at both the national and State/Territory/Provincial levels. Noting that both Australia and Canada have explicit national policies in favour of multiculturalism and citizen engagement, it is pertinent to review how public officials engage with citizens from increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
In reviewing how government commitments to engage with all citizens work in practice, I ask whether and how paying greater attention to cultural competence can enhance public policy deliberations and thus policy outcomes.