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Mobile telephones for public messaging: Did the referendum information hotline make a difference?
CHAIR
Gordon Peake

PANELLISTS
Amanda H. A. Watson, Jeremy Miller, Adriana Schmidt

Last year, the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville voted overwhelmingly to break away from Papua New Guinea in a non-binding referendum. In the pre-referendum period, there was a strong focus on informing voters about the two referendum options (independence or greater autonomy) to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of the result, and help maintain peace in a post-conflict setting.

This seminar will include brief presentations by the producers of a telephone information hotline that operated for eight weeks just before polling. The hotline was a national first in the application of a mobile telephone-based platform to deliver public information en masse. It allowed Bougainvilleans to ring a free-call number and hear pre-recorded messages about the referendum and the two other pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement - autonomy and weapons disposal. The hotline was one element of a multi-media package of government information initiatives supported by Australia and New Zealand.

There will also be a presentation by the audience researcher who analysed the impact of the service. The qualitative research findings, which were recently published as a part of the Discussion Paper Series of the Department of Pacific Affairs, assess the effectiveness of the telephone hotline in delivering government information directly to citizens. Recommendations will be made about whether such a service should continue.

NOTE: For our audience in Port Moresby and Bougainville, the event will be at 3PM and 4PM respectively (local times).

Oct 27, 2020 04:00 PM in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

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