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Thought Leadership

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Speaking truth to power: Shergold’s final speech touts importance of professional public servants in a world of weakened democracy

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Following 'Shergie's farewell tour' last year, Peter Shergold gave his final performance as outgoing IPAA National president at the association's conference in Darwin last week. He reflected on the public service's ability to moderate the damaging impulses of politicians and the importance of non-partisan actors in democratic government.

Confronting the challenge of collaboration in a world obsessed with being in opposition

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Rather than processes, it may be the clashing of values that has reduced our tolerance for engaging alternative perspectives. Social capital, the once-lauded holy grail of community, is crumbling and being replaced by suspicion, hubris and barefaced lies. Cross-sectoral leadership is the art of reaching across this tribalism to engage competing values and ‘learn’ our way to solutions. 

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Transform support functions for the digital age. Capitalising on the potential for faster, leaner reporting means letting go of the old ways and welcoming the new

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The digital future of support functions will be exciting. As traditional, time-intensive tasks like forecasting, reporting, and distributing information get handled through smart digital tools, people can focus on asking the right questions, running and interpreting analyses, drawing conclusions, managing trade-offs, and generating insights that help business units create new value. Capitalising on this potential, however, requires putting the right organisational structure in place. 

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Setting up a social impact bond requires thinking through many barriers around data and measuring success. Amy Auster is stewarding two rollouts with an eye to early intervention

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"Early intervention is a bit of a nirvana," says Amy Auster, deputy secretary economic at the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance. Hard, but the Victorian government is still trying. It has contracted for two social impact bonds — service partnerships delivered by external providers and funded by investors, where government will pay a profit if the provider is able to achieve certain agreed targets.

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Learn to live with uncertainty, and other tips on public sector governance and leadership. Sometimes you have to push back and take a stand for due process, but it’s getting harder

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Governments don’t govern alone. The shared responsibilities of public sector governance fall broadly into two categories – performance and conformance – and a lot of them land on public servants. Discharging these solemn duties can be a challenge when time is of the essence and process becomes a dirty word. Public service leaders should expect […]

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Design thinking is about creating repeatable processes for harnessing human creativity. How to write and communicate a spot-on mission statement for government

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Benjamin Teed is a senior policy analyst in Canada’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. Here, he delves into the techniques for coming up with an A-grade mission statement that creates a repeatable, scalable process which lets public servants bring out the best, most visionary parts of our leaders, our stakeholders, and oneself. What’s your […]

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Geoff Gallop on learning from how Australia advanced its thinking on First Peoples in the past, and can maybe learn how to do reform again

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As Australia and the First peoples contemplate treaty and constitutional recognition, there must an acceptance that there are two major players in this, the First Peoples and the Australian electorate. A facilitated dialogue, like a mini-public may have the best likelihood of people and ideas coming together in the search for the best outcome.

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We have a collective responsibility to build environments in which children thrive. Here are five ways to work differently with families to help keep kids safe

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Annette Michaux and Nat Kendall-Taylor outline the five major strategies for moving forward on child protection that resulted from a major national research project involving more than 7600 Australians. They say that how safe our children are from abuse and neglect and whether we support them to develop in a healthy way is an important measure of how healthy our communities are.