Within most democracies there is an assumption that greater public participation and engagement in policy processes results in more effective policy measures. These assumed benefits include better framed and more robust policies and a more informed, articulate and engaged citizenry. Similar assumptions exist also in planning for climate adaptation where more public participation and engagement are seen as vital components of any adaptation strategy and policy development process. This article explores these assumptions and considers whether there is any evidence that the success of planning for uvoidable climate change is related to the extent of public participation. Using an evaluation framework based on three aspects of participation we critically review a set of climate adaptation policy instruments developed within each of the three levels of government in Australia but with a specific focus on the region of South East Queensland.