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National Policy Officer Summit 2019

Mastering Complex Policy Problems

We believe you hold the power to enhance policy results. If you become more effective, Australia’s economic and social future benefits.

You can only achieve this when you tackle complex policy problems head on, master co-design and effectively navigate the political environment.

That’s the purpose of National Policy Officers Summit. To share the skills of Australia’s leading policy experts so you can harness complexity to optimise the public policy environment.

National Policy Officers Summit is a platform to bring together all levels of government to overcome challenges in the contemporary policy environment. It provides attendees with the knowledge and skills to confront and overcome contemporary policy challenges.

Learn cutting-edge approaches to policy-making to master complex policy problems, legitimise public policy through co-design and understand policy making in the contemporary political environment.

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  04 - 07 March 2019
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Canberra


We are bringing together leading experts in policy-making to discuss innovating approaches to overcoming contemporary policy problems.


Over four information-packed days learn innovative approaches to policy-making from experts across the country.


Attend hands-on, practical workshops to learn skills in mastering the real-world policy cycle, policy writing and communications, and an introduction to policy fundamentals.



  • Learn innovative approaches to overcome complex, wicked policy problems
  • Implement co-design of public policy to gain public buy-in and enhance results
  • Harness complexity in policy-making for systems-wide policy thinking
  • Be on the cutting-edge of innovative approaches to policy-making
  • Understand and make effective, lasting policy in the contemporary political environment
  • Master policy-master in the complex Federal systems
  • Use adaptive policy-making techniques as a response to uncertainty

Who should attend this conference

100%Director of policy

100%Policy officer


96%Data and analytics managers

87%Service delivery and design managers

Get Ready To Be Inspired!

Scroll down for more info and the agenda
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Key Speakers


Roger Bradbury

Professor of Complex Systems, Crawford School of Public Policy

Australian National University


Sally Lee

Director, Policy Operations

NSW Ministry of Health


Kate Starick

Director Social Policy and State and Commonwealth Relations Branch

Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, ACT Government


Jason Downs

Leader for Engagement

SA Department of State Development


Peter Calacino

Executive Director, Policy and Research

Infrastructure Australia


Anna Needs

Director, Premier's Implementation Unit

Department of Premier and Cabinet NSW


Matthew James

Deputy Director, Environment Policy Branch

NSW Ministry of Health


Emmanuelle Sloan

Principal Policy Officer

Department of Treasury and Finance SA


Tim Reddel

General Manager, Policy Office

Department of Social Services


Mark Stears


Sydney Policy Lab, Sydney University


Andrew Wilkinson

Policy Director

IP Australia


Brett Massey

Assistant Director, Domestic Policy and Legislation Section

IP Australia


Anne Beach

Director, Policy and Coordination

Department of State Growth Tasmania

  • Pre-Conference Workshop - 4 March 2019

    Introduction to policy fundamentals & the real-world policy cycle

    4 March 2019

    9:00 am

    To be an effective policy officer it is important to have a strong grasp of policy making fundamentals. Mastering these fundamentals can be especially challenging for policy officers that don’t have a professional or academic policy background.

    This practical, full-day workshop will give attendees the knowledge needed to be effective public sector policy officers. Understanding these fundamentals is vital for enhancing the prospects of success of government policy. Gain hands-on, practical knowledge to make an immediate impact on your organisations policy-making.

    Attendees of this full-day workshop will learn:

    • What is the role of the policy officer in public policy making?
    • The traditions of policy making:
      • A problem-solving process
      • A political process
    • Understand the policy cycle and why it is important for policy makers
    • Using the policy cycle in real-world policy making
    • Gain a strong understanding of tools used in policy making
    • Mapping policy stakeholders and how stakeholders affect policy
    • Learn the basic tools for policy co-design and public participation
    • Tools to publicise policy changes and their impact
    • Gain practical, hands-on experience in vital policy skills

    Expert facilitator: Jason Alexandra, Alexandra and Associates, former Murray-Darling Basin Authority

  • Conference Day 1 - 5 March 2019

    Complexity in policy making & complex policy problems

    9:00am: OPENING KEYNOTE: Harnessing complexity to understand the interconnected nature of policy problems

    • Learn how complexity will help overcome pressing contemporary policy problems
    • Explore the shift to individual parts of the political system to a systemic, whole-of-system perspective
    • Understand the benefits of complexity and the shortcomings of traditional policy-making methods

    Roger Bradbury, Professor of Complex Systems Science, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU

    9:50am: CASE STUDY: Solving wicked policy problems through complexity

    • Harnessing complexity to solve wicked problems defined by policy failure
    • Understand how complexity can help overcome policy problems that are multi-causal, not stable and have no clear solution
    • How complexity can overcome policy problems that are socially complex, multi-agency and involve changing behaviour

    Pending: Frances Zinnen, Senior Policy and Programs Officer, NSW FACS

    10:40am: Morning tea

    11:00am: CASE STUDY: Building a case for policy in the Australian Federal system

    • How to work constructively as a policy-maker in policy issues with Federal dimensions
    • Working in the messiness of policy issues with Commonwealth and State dimensions
    • Building a case to get through a federated policy-making process

    Matthew James, Deputy Director Environmental Health Branch, NSW Department of Health

    11:50am: CASE STUDY: Horizontal inter-agency knowledge sharing to solve complex policy problems

    • Understand the importance of knowledge sharing to overcome complex policy problems and understand the system they operate within
    • Sharing knowledge within agencies and between organisations to overcome complex policy problems and master complexity
    • Learn practical methods for knowledge sharing to master complexity

    Anna Needs, Director, Premier’s Implementation Unit, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

    12:40 pm Lunch

    Mastering co-design in policy-making

     1:40pm: PANEL DISCUSSION: Co-design & service design to solve complex policy problems

    • Is co-design an important tool for solving complex public policy problems and gaining public buy-in
    • Can the entire policy process from the dilemma to actions and beyond be co-designed?
    • What is the place of citizens’ juries and deliberative democracy in co-design?
    • How can you ensure that you see policy problems from a citizens’ perspective?

    2:30pm: CASE STUDY: Co-design to take engagement seriously throughout the policy cycle

    • Learn practical methods for engagement with the public and policy stakeholders through the entire policy lifecycle including in:
    • Agenda setting, policy formulation, decision-making, implementation and evaluation
    • Explore how to take bring engagement findings into policy-making, including when these findings are not in line with previous policy or expectations
    • How to take engagement seriously throughout the policy making process and ensure buy-in to this from your organisation and management

    Jason Downs, Leader for Engagement, Department of State Development SA

    3:20pm Afternoon tea

    3:40pm: CASE STUDY: Legitimising public policy through co-design

    • Learn how to legitimise public policy with the public and stakeholders through co-design
    • Understand how to ensure effective and genuine co-design to legitimise policy
    • Best practice techniques to engage with stakeholders at every stop of the real-world policy cycle

    Salle Lee, Policy Director, NSW Ministry of Health

    4:30pm: CASE STUDY: Personalising & individualising policy through co-design

    • Hear a case study on personalising policy through co-design and a user perspective
    • Learn the advantages and disadvantages of this approach for policy, and methods to overcome these disadvantages
    • Is the future of public policy, especially service-based policy, individualised? Is there a place for the traditional method of policy-making?

    5:20pm: End of day one & networking drinks

  • Conference Day 2 - 6 March 2019

    Navigating the contemporary political environment

    9:00am: KEYNOTE: Policy-making & paradigms in a post-truth environment

    • Understand the contemporary political environment and contemporary political paradigms of interpretation
    • Explore whether we live in a post-truth environment and the implications of this for policy-makers
    • What are the best tools and approaches for contemporary policy-makers and do these usurp or complement traditional policy-making approaches

    Mark Stears, Director, Sydney Policy Lab, Sydney University

    9:50am: Responding to political changes to ensure successful policy & efficient use of resources

    • How to respond to political changes such as ministerial reshuffles to ensure successful policy and, where appropriate, continuity in policy
    • Ensuring efficiency and lack of loss of work when there is fundamental political change
    • Harnessing previous Departmental work when there are changes in policy direction to avoid wasted resources

    Peter Calacino, Executive Director – Policy and Research, Infrastructure Australia

    10:40am: Morning tea

    11:00am: CASE STUDY:  Achieving long-term buy-in for public policy from executives, politicians and decision-makers

    • Learn how to achieve buy-in to public policy in the often-chaotic democratic system
    • Understand practical methods to engage with decision-makers
    • Methods to ensure consistency in policies despite changes in decision-makers, and how to advocate for policy positions when there are changes in decision-makers and ministers

    Emmanuelle Sloan, Principal Policy Officer, Department of Treasury and Finance SA

    11:50am: Processes to avoid fait-accompli policy with pre-determined solutions

    Learn proper processes to ensure the policy process is not captured by interests and associated pre-determined policy solutions

    • Practical methods to embed these processes in your organisations approach to policy-making and to every policy issue
    • Understand why it is important to take policy-making process

    Kate Speare, Infrastructure Funding Policy Director, Department of Planning & Environment

    12:40 pm Lunch

    Adaptive policy-making & evaluation tools

    1:40pm: CASE STUDY: Evidence-influenced policy: the interactions of evidence & ideology

    • Understanding how evidence interacts with ideology
    • Moving beyond bureaucratic rationalism and reductionism
    • How to advocate for and use evidence within the political environment

    Kate Starick, Director Social Policy and State and Commonwealth Relations Branch, Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, ACT Government

    2:30pm: CASE STUDY: Adaptive policy-making: pathways to implementing policy

    Even where there is agreement on policy goals often there is a difficulty in implementation, derived from different world views and paradigms.

    • Master methods to devise public policy given profound uncertainties about the future
    • Learn how to devise adaptive policy that is robust across a range of plausible potential futures
    • How to build an understanding that policies will change over time into policy making
    • Designing these policies to evolve over time

    3:20pm Afternoon tea

    3:40pm: CASE STUDY: Evaluation tools for policy-making & co-design

    • Learn best practice methods for evaluating public policy
    • Learn innovative, contemporary evaluation methods
    • Co-design in evaluation and evaluating the effectiveness of policy co-design

    4:30pm: CASE STUDY: Complementing traditional policy tools with modern approaches

    • Learn how to use modern policy-making tools in concert with traditional approaches
    • Understand if there are situations where traditional approaches are more appropriate
    • How to identify opportunities to use innovative policer-making tools

    Pending: Andrew Wilkinson, Policy Director, IP Australia

    Pending: Brett Massey, Assistant Director, Domestic Policy and Legislation Section, IP Australia

    5:20pm: End of conference

  • Post-Conference Workshops - 7 March 2019

    9 am Workshop A: Policy writing & communications

    Policy writing and communications skills are of vast important to policy officers. In order to make successful policy, policy officers must have strong policy writing skills and communication skills to effectively communicate with the public, senior management and members of government, and stakeholders.

    Attendees of this workshop will learn:

    • Key elements for better policy writing
    • Using evidence to draft policy recommendations
    • Developing and polishing documents
    • Best practice in communicating policy with senior managers
    • How to communicate effectively with external organisations
    • Effective communication of government policy with the public to gain buy-in

    12:30 pm Lunch

    1:30 pm Workshop B: Co-design & public participation methods for contemporary policy-making

    Ensuring the public is involved with policy making is important to creating public policy that is citizen-focussed and gains public legitimacy. This workshop will give attendees the skills and knowledge necessary to embed co-design principles in their policy making. Attendees will also learn other methods for public participation throughout the policy process.

    Attendees of this workshop will learn:

    • What is the role of the policy expert in a co-design landscape?
    • What is the role of technical and other experts in co-designed policy?
    • Learn the advantages of co-design and when co-design is an appropriate approach
    • The best methods for ensuring genuine co-design of public policy
    • Best methods to ensure effective, sustainable and citizen-focussed results
    • How to manage and overcome the challenges of co-design
    • Methods to ensure public participation from the beginning of the policy process
    • How to engage the public during the evaluation phase

    5:00 pm End of Day


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