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Consultation principles

How our consultation principles guide and support our activities to achieve quality consultation.

Last updated 25 April 2023

Our consultation framework is underpinned by 6 principles. These guide and support how we consult to achieve quality consultation.

These are based on established consultation approaches in the Australian Public Service. They seek to reflect what our stakeholders say is important to them.

The principles have an intentional focus on guiding ATO staff undertaking consultation and on strengthening our commitment to delivering good consultation (from early planning, to conducting consultation, to finalising outcomes).

Our consultation framework and principles are used to consider what we are consulting about and may involve our consultation groups.


We are clear about the purpose and objectives of the consultation and have a plan.

In practice this means:

  • every consultation is appropriately planned to identify its
    • purpose
    • scope
    • stakeholders
    • risk
    • activities
    • resources
    • timeframes
  • communication will include
    • clear statements about what the consultation is about
    • the role of the ATO and stakeholders in the consultation
    • how stakeholders’ input will be used
  • the ATO and stakeholders demonstrate and maintain focus on the purpose of the consultation
  • public resources are used efficiently, particularly if there are known constraints
  • consultation should remain proportionate to the potential impacts of the proposal.


We explain who will be consulted and ensure consultation captures the diversity of stakeholders.

In practice this means identifying a range of stakeholders who can provide their expertise and ability to provide a diversity of views. This could involve seeking out individuals or groups with subject matter expertise or insights or experience, by asking business, community organisations and representative bodies for nominated representatives.


We outline a timeline for efficient and meaningful consultation.

In practice this means:

  • Enough time for consultation is provided, with emphasis on consultation being conducted early.
  • Remembering that stakeholders we consult with mostly do so in a pro-bono or volunteer capacity and do not have unlimited time or immediate availability to devote to consultation.
  • Timeframes for consultation should be realistic to allow stakeholders enough time to provide a considered response – we note the time depends on the specifics of the proposal and some limitations on the timing and length of consultation may be unavoidable.


We ensure stakeholders can readily contribute to consultation matters.

In practice this means:

  • consultation methods ensure stakeholders can readily contribute through appropriate channels
  • informing stakeholders of proposed consultation by the most appropriate means, for example the ATO’s website
  • providing stakeholders with information in
    • an easily understandable format
    • using plain language
    • identifying the key issues
  • providing written consultation documents, when appropriate, that include summaries to allow those consulted to quickly assess whether the material is relevant to them and whether they need to read further
  • selecting the most appropriate method to consult considering
    • the nature of the topic
    • the need for confidentiality
    • the sector of the community it impacts
    • the availability of stakeholders.


We promote transparent and comprehensive consultation, engaging stakeholders from the earliest possible stage to participate in the process and make outcomes visible.

In practice this means:

  • Explaining the objectives of the consultation and the context for it.
  • Involving stakeholders from the earliest possible stage, and clearly stating aspects of the proposal or issue not subject to change.
  • Being clear on the areas where views are sought to support more useful responses.
  • Providing feedback to stakeholders to demonstrate how their responses have been considered.
  • Welcoming input and providing respectful feedback, even if the input or views are not adopted or reflected in decision-making.
  • Focusing on developing relationships and trust through shared knowledge and understanding.
  • Providing the outcome of our consultation to stakeholders and making it visible to the community via the ATO website.
  • If required, being clear about when information needs to be treated sensitively and to the extent possible, explain why it is not appropriate for the ATO to consult in an open and transparent way.

Evaluate and review

We evaluate our consultation to identify ways of making them more effective.

In practice this means:

  • Evaluating consultation processes and continuing to identify opportunities to make them more effective.
  • Reviewing the planned objective of the consultation against our outcome to consider what was achieved.