Policy Essentials: using evidence and data for good policy design and implementation

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Economics, Data Analysis and Decision Making
Policy Essentials


This course builds on Policy Essentials: what you need to know to design and implement good policy to help participants to identify and deal with the challenges in developing evidence-informed policy and programs. The course will include how to critique evidence when you are not an expert and have little time. There will be a particular emphasis on how to communicate evidence for greatest policy impact and to guide program implementation using a range of real-world examples for illustration. Participants will be involved in hands-on exercises to reinforce the learnings through practice, including a longer exercise to gain deeper insights into the challenge of making evidence-informed policy.

See related courses: Policy Essentials: what you need to know to design and implement good policy

Course date: 
9.30am–4.30pm 22 October 2020
#132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Before 7 October 2020: $1,195

After 8 October 2020: $1,495


$2,195 for enrolment in the Series (saving $195 off the price of purchasing each day separately).

Group discounts available.

Course overview


To help you use evidence and data to become a confident participant in the policy design and implementation processes.

Course outline:

Evidence-based policy and implementation is the ‘holy grail’ for Australian public servants. But they face many challenges including the dominance of the short term and economic perspectives, the influence of ideology and the need for policy and programs to deal with immediate problems and crises. Participants will work through the various challenges to evidence-based policy drawing on their own experiences, case studies and insights from the academic and grey literature.

The Workshop will explore how to critique evidence when you are not an expert and have little time. There will be a particular emphasis on how to communicate evidence for greatest policy impact and to guide program implementation. Participants will be involved in hands-on exercises and will also be involved in a longer exercise to gain practical insights into the challenges of making evidence-informed policy that is implementable.

The Workshop will be conducted by two highly experienced former practitioners drawing on their previous experience and their ongoing research into public policy issues.

Topics to be covered:

  • Challenges in using evidence for Australian policymakers;
  • Critiquing data and evidence; participating in a hypothetical interdepartmental committee exercise involving different departmental perspectives on available evidence;
  • The principles and practice involved in communicating and employing data and evidence effectively for policy and program design and implementation.

Course structure:

The structure of the day is based around presentations followed by practical exercises to embed learnings; longer exercises are done in the afternoon sessions. The workshop is based on a high level of interaction with participants and the use of exercises involving different groups of participants to increase participation and small group interactions.

Academic research and other expertise is employed to offer insights and a range of social policy case studies are drawn on as practical illustrations. Participants actively work through examples so that they can draw out the lessons themselves. Participants are also provided with useful resources for further study including key academic works, grey literature and on-line sites.

Learning outcomes:

  • Expanded capability to use and critique evidence for policy design and implementation.

Who should attend?

This course is designed for public servants in the APS4-EL1 range who have limited policy experience or who are aspiring to work in policy. It is suitable for graduates who have recently joined the public service. It is also good for people who want a more strategic approach to implementation and to link policy and implementation more closely.

While the course is at the introductory level, it is also suitable for participants in higher APS classifications who are looking for a ‘refresh’ or have principally worked in implementing programs.

Participants from the ‘third sector’, such as non government and private sector organisations, who are looking to expand their understanding of government and policy processes also regularly attend and have found this course very useful.

No prior experience required. It is preferable that participants have some background and/or experience in government.

Course presenter(s)

Dr Trish Mercer

Trish Mercer is an experienced public policy professional who worked for over 20 years as a senior executive in Commonwealth central agency and line departments. This included senior policy roles in education and employment and in leading research, analysis and evaluation areas, as well as 6 years in service delivery in Queensland. Currently Trish is an ANZSOG researcher at ANU, where her research projects include public policy initiatives in the education and employment areas, and she engages in public policy teaching through the Crawford School Executive Education program and the National Security College. Trish is currently editing a book to be published through ANU and ANZSOG on how public policy theory can be translated into practical insights for Australian public servants.

Trish has a doctorate from ANU and a BA (Hons) from James Cook University, both in history, and a Diploma in American Studies from Smith College in Massachusetts, USA.

Dr Wendy Jarvie

Dr Wendy Jarvie has enjoyed a diverse career, alternating as a government policy practitioner and a researcher. She spent 22 years working in the Australian Public Service, including seven years (2001-2008) as a Deputy Secretary in the Departments of Education, Science and Training and Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. She also managed evaluations and strategy development at the World Bank in Washington between 1998 and 2001.

Wendy has been providing Executive Education classes at ANU since 2012. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at the UNSW School of Business in Canberra, where she is undertaking research in governments and early childhood development policies, and the role of evidence, innovation and learning in public policy. She also works for the World Bank in early childhood education in the Pacific. Wendy is a member of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Audit and Risk Committee (since 2016) and its Independent Evaluation Committee for Australian Aid (since 2012). She is also a member of the NSW government’s Advisory Group for Aboriginal Affairs Research (since 2015). Wendy has three degrees from the University of Newcastle (BA (hons) in History, Diploma of Computer Science, and Masters of Engineering Science), as well as a PhD in Geography from Flinders University.

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