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Thought Leadership

The problem with knowing — and not knowing — a great deal about a complex policy matter, and how to overcome it
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The problem with knowing — and not knowing — a great deal about a complex policy matter, and how to overcome it

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If we know a great deal about something, we close our minds to alternative pathways, we share our knowledge with people who support our opinion and this, in turn, creates confirmation bias, and our creativity is constricted because we think we know what’s possible and dismiss anything that sounds unrealistic. Lyn Carson shoes how to mitigate these realities of being in governance and oversight positions.

Improving cultural diversity in the public service: understand different leadership styles and be prepared to push back on resistance
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Improving cultural diversity in the public service: understand different leadership styles and be prepared to push back on resistance

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The leadership of Australia’s public services is really white. At last count in 2018, government departments across the country had a higher proportion of chief executives from an Anglo-Celtic background than the ASX200, the university sector, or even the federal government ministry. The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Leading for change report found 84.5% of secretaries […]

Federal public servants will soon have a ‘responsibility to share’ data for public benefit, but they need to lean on the experts and be careful not to overreach
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Federal public servants will soon have a ‘responsibility to share’ data for public benefit, but they need to lean on the experts and be careful not to overreach

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After a long period of consultation around upcoming federal data-sharing and release reforms, questions about consent and commercial use remain the most controversial. While a lot of researchers and policy-makers are keen to unlock latent value in the data held by the Australian Public Service, the need to maintain social license looms large.

Cross-government collaboration by civil servants, for civil servants. Tips and tricks from collaborators that will help you turn visions into reality
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Cross-government collaboration by civil servants, for civil servants. Tips and tricks from collaborators that will help you turn visions into reality

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Attempts to support more effective coordination across government departments is not a new concept, and stories of failed attempts or at least only partial success tend to dominate. One of the key reasons for this appears to be the fact that government bureaucracies lack the “supporting architecture” needed to support joined-up-working. Thea Snow examines the success stories and sincere attempts of cross-government collaboration around the world.

Are we wise enough (smart enough) to survive our own success? If so, how can we all get along better? Practicing tolerance in the Age of Stupid
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Are we wise enough (smart enough) to survive our own success? If so, how can we all get along better? Practicing tolerance in the Age of Stupid

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I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them — Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Politicus, 1676 The burden of unbounded knowledge weighs heavily on those with open minds. Those trapped within a specific moral code express righteous indignation that their beliefs should be […]

Miriam Vogel delivered implicit bias training for Obama. Now she guides AI developers: ‘Many more lives are impacted by the bias of that black box’
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Miriam Vogel delivered implicit bias training for Obama. Now she guides AI developers: ‘Many more lives are impacted by the bias of that black box’

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Miriam Vogel developed and led implicit bias training for federal law enforcement while at the United States Department of Justice. Tackling defensiveness is an important part of successful implicit bias training, she says. It’s really helpful to start by defusing that defensiveness and making it clear that this is a human condition, it doesn’t make you an evil person, it makes us human.

An ableist public service? How to shift the underemployment of people with disability in the Australian Public Sector

An ableist public service? How to shift the underemployment of people with disability in the Australian Public Sector

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Data from the Australian Public Sector Database shows a steady long-term decline in the number and proportion of people with disability in the Commonwealth public sector. One APS narrative is that the problem is not as big as it seems — non-disclosure of disability is more of a problem than a lack of representation. It becomes too easy to use such statements as a means of shifting responsibility for failures in public sector disability employment policy, writes Paul Williamson.

New Public Management: the practical challenges, remedies and alternatives

New Public Management: the practical challenges, remedies and alternatives

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Treating the public service like a business has become the norm, with the structures, language, practices and incentives inherited from private sector managerialism. We know that citizens don’t expect public sectors to act the same way — which is evident in the feedback, discussions, user research and myriad public engagements — yet when we adopt the mindset of a business we create pressure to act more like a business in everything we do.