Posts in Policy and governance
When design meets power: design thinking, public sector innovation and the politics of policymaking

Responding to the need for innovation, governments have begun experimenting with ‘design thinking’ approaches to reframe policy issues and generate new policy solutions. But what is new about design thinking and how does it compares to rational approaches to policymaking? Maria Katsonis discusses below.

The article orginally appeared in The Mandarin

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Modern Monetary Theory and the job guarantee: A new way of thinking for the social sector

As part of her popular Green New Deal platform, the US member of Congress Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez has been utilising Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to explain how governments can fund environmental policy reforms. But could MMT also be used by the social sector as a message frame to promote social policy reform? In today’s blog post Dr Andrew Joyce from the Centre for Social Impact and Celia Green from UNSW discuss the how the social sector could leverage insights from MMT to promote paradigm shifting social policy reforms.

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Three charts on: why congestion charging is fairer than you might think

Congestion charging is a feature in many cities around the world, but Australia has been reluctant to introduce such a policy, instead focusing on developing infrastructure. However new analysis from the Grattan Institute suggests that a congestion charge would be a better and fairer way of tackling congestion than spending more on infrastructure. Marion Terril and James Ha from the Grattan Institute discuss the implications below.

This article originally appeared in The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article

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Lesson for Australia. Make it hard for people to get benefits, and they’ll stop, but they mightn’t get jobs

Australia’s system of social welfare is based on mutual obligation. But what happens when those obligations become so onerous that people simply stop seeking to claim government benefits? Professor David C. Ribar from The University of Melbourne dicusses this issue for those on Newsart.

This post originally appeared in The Conversation

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Blunt mechanisms fail to move unemployed people into viable employment

Despite the government’s commitment to and investment in a Welfare to Work strategy to incentivise people into employment, many people are languishing on the extraordinarily low Newstart Allowance for long periods of time. What exactly is going wrong? In a submission to the Victorian Government’s Inquiry into sustainable employment for disadvantaged jobseekers, Sue Olney (@olney_sue) of the Public Service Research Group (@PSResearchG) at UNSW Canberra provides a brief but comprehensive outline of why current levers seem to be falling well short of government targets. You can read the full submission in its original format here.

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The 2019 Power to Persuade symposium: examining systems thinking and big data in social policy

Power to Persuade is hosting a one-day symposium in Melbourne on Thursday 10 October 2019. Featuring a keynote address by Julian Corner, CEO of Lankelly Chase in the UK, and three panels of experts drawn from universties, government and the not-for-profit sector, the symposium will examine the evolving use and understanding of evidence in social policy. Our co-director Dr Sue Olney from the Public Service Researach Group at UNSW Canberra sets the scene and invites you to join the discussion.

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Eligible for what? ParentsNext exemptions and the troubling tale of outsourced social security decision-making

Continuing her series of original posts on Australia's employment services system, Dr Simone Casey (@SimoneCasey) explores the implications of outsourced decision-making in social security through the lens of the ParentsNext program. Dr Casey is an affiliate of the RMIT Future Social Services Institute (@FutureSocialAU).

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Hope for the Honey Bee?

You may have noticed at your local common a place for wild flowers, attracting a mobile constellation of bees, butterflies, and a host of minibeasts. Honey bees mean different things to each of us: an excuse to reminisce on childhood crayoning, the producer of that delicious syrup we all enjoy as honey, or a symbol of order and harmony in nature. However, they also serve a critical environmental role as a major fruit and vegetable pollinator. In these days of economic and political uncertainty this may not be foremost in policy makers minds, however, bees are vital for our survival and are a living indicator of the health of our environment. In this post, Gino Abdul-Jabbar suggests with honey bees under threat that we need to direct our individual attention and garner collective policy support for the plight of the humble honey bee.

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Changing the global approach to youth mental health

In the past, the greatest health challenge for young people was to survive childhood. Thankfully, in most of the world this is no longer the case. However, the big health issue now for young people is mental health. Consulting with experts and stakeholders around the world, the Global Youth Mental Health Framework project will provide guidance for funders about the costs of investing, and the costs of not investing, in youth mental health. It also aims to produce a youth mental health care framework that is responsive to local needs, and a toolkit to help communities all over the world advocate for youth mental health services. On International Youth Day, Eóin Killackey outlined a new undertaking to make youth mental health a global priority.

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How can retailers improve access and outcomes for consumers with cognitive disabilities?

In the wake of reports of service providers' poor conduct towards consumers with cognitive disabilities emerging from the Royal Commission into Banking, the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria and the Essential Services Commission, Dr Yvette Maker and Professor Jeannie Paterson from the University of Melbourne offer two sets of resources here to promote a ‘facilitative’ approach to contracting and consumer transactions for people who have difficulties (or perceived difficulties) with learning, concentrating on, processing, remembering, or communicating information, and/or with decision-making.This piece was originally published by the Consumer Policy Research Centre.

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Why Indigenous values matter for all public servants and all communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples occupy a unique position as the first sovereign peoples of Australia. And while governments have been striving to improve their relationships with as well as their abilities to represent and provide services to Indigenous Australians, there is still a long way to go.

In this post, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s (ANZSOG) Aurora Milroy discusses why Indigenous values and culture should be embedded in the Australian Public Service (APS), and outlines practical solutions for helping the Commonwealth begin to reset its relationship with Indigenous peoples.

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Report finds every $1 Australia spends on preschool will return $2, but this won’t just magically happen

Is Australia getting good return on investment in early childhood education? A report conducted by PwC for the Front Project finds that Australia is getting $2 back for every $1 spent on preschool.

While this statistic is important, Jen Jackson of Victorian University’s Mitchell Institute argues that we need to examine and invest in the complex chain of events that in order for the country to reap the two-for-one return.

This article was originally published in The Conversation.

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Looking after loved ones with mental illness puts carers at risk themselves. They need more support

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System - the first of its kind in Australia - is looking into ‘[accelerating] improvements in access to mental health services, service navigation and models of care.’ One element of the mental health care system, which is often overlooked, is help for informal carers that support those who have mental illness.

In this article originally published in The Conversation, the University of Newcastle’s Jaelea Skehan and Sally Fitzpatrick explain the emotional labour involved in caring, the case for preventing their psychological distress, and the policy setting that government needs to enhance carers’ wellbeing and prevent the onset of mental health issues of their own.

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Putting value creation back into public value

While value creation has long been discussed in the private sector, the concept of value creation by the public sector is largely absent. Until recently there has been no clear role for the public sector to create value itself – the term ‘public value’ does not even exist in economics. However a new paper by Mariana Mazzucato and Josh Ryan-Collins at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose proposes ways that public value can be created using a theory of collective public value creation. This article orginally appeared in The Mandarin and is authored by Maria Katsonis.

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Feminist theory and Australia’s care and support sector

Australian policymakers will need to take critical action in response to the care crisis revealed by coverage of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the lead up to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Laura Davy (@LauraKDavy) from the Public Service Research Group, UNSW Canberra, discusses how feminist ethics and feminist economics can inform workforce investment strategies into the future.

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New wave conditionality and social supervision

In today's post, Dr Simone Casey (@simonecasey) discusses the ethics and efficacy of recent developments in welfare conditionality in Australia. This continues her series of posts examining topical issues in Australia's employment services system - ParentsNext; mutual obligation; 'work first' activation of jobseekers; and the growing presence of automation in Australia's welfare system. Dr Casey is an Associate of the RMIT Future Social Services Institute.

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Private prisons: Are they really cheaper, better and more accountable?

Victoria has recently committed to spending a whole lot more on prisons and corrections to accommodate its growing prison population. As Deirdre O’Neill, Valarie Sands and Graeme Hodge of Monash University report, Victoria relies more heavily on privatised prisons than anywhere else in the country, but lack of transparency makes it frustratingly difficult to tell whether privatisation has delivered on its promises of cheaper, better and more accountable. This post is based on their recent article in the Australian Journal of Public Administration.

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The academic-practitioner divide in public management: and how to bridge it

In this post, Professor Jenny Stewart and Dr Fiona Buick from the Public Service Research Group reflect on the ever-present divide between academics and practitioners in public policy. They present a number of strategies to bridge the gap and provide the foundation for academics to undertake research that generates outcomes for both researchers and policymakers.

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