Trust in government has been on a rollercoaster in recent months.
In December 2019, the Australian Election Study found that voters’ trust in government had reached its lowest level on record with just 25% of Australians believing that people in government can be trusted to do the right thing, while three quarters believed that ‘people in government are looking after themselves’.
By April 2020, however, an Essential Research poll found that the proportion of voters who ‘trust the government is giving honest and objective advice’ was 63%.
The primary reason for this shift in attitude is COVID-19.
Australians have generally given high marks to the way Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have conducted themselves during the pandemic. Government now has a real opportunity to shift the conversation on public sector trust, professionalism and ethics.
But how can governments maintain this trust and translate the lessons learnt from Australia’s robust public response to COVID-19 into building and maintaining trust in other areas of government conduct?
First of all, there needs to be an understanding of what conduct means in government and it’s all about trust.