Expert communication for stakeholder engagement

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Executive program


Effective communication is at the heart of good public policy. It is the foundation for successfully engaging stakeholders to ensure that policies are better informed, realistic, citizen-centred, broadly supported and well implemented. This means that, in the world of public policy, high level communication skills are needed beyond the domain of official “Communications” units. Indeed, to be truly effective, communication must permeate the policy process, and offer more than the familiar practices of “public relations” or doing a better job of “explaining the facts”.

In this course, we will introduce core concepts, principles and practices that underpin the art and science of collaborative communication. Using interactive approaches that draw on participants’ own experiences and real-work challenges, we will explore the essential mindsets and skills that promote the ability to engage stakeholders, for example by:

  • doing more “listening” and less “telling”
  • being open to, and respectful of, diverse views and perspectives - especially those that do not agree
  • being transparent about the risks of your initiative alongside the benefits
  • sharing dilemmas and decision-making; reduce power differentials

Course overview

This course will cover the fundamentals of effective communication with stakeholders including:

  • methods for identifying and understanding stakeholder needs and interests (e.g, stakeholder mapping/analysis tools) and deploying appropriate communication strategies
  • personal and practical skills to remain open and respectful to diverse perspectives, especially where disagreement is strong the importance of trust and factors that build trust
  • genuine two-way communication that appropriately balances listening both at the interpersonal level and to groups or the general public
  • methods to build social licence for policy reform (including principles and practices of ‘risk communication’ - i.e., precaution advocacy, outrage management, and crisis communication)
  • understanding how to use (and not to use) evidence and facts, especially in the face of disagreement

Learning outcomes:

  • improved personal confidence in communication;
  • skills for genuine listening;
  • a more nuanced understanding of how to respond to a diversity of perspectives.

The course activities will focus heavily on developing personal confidence and skills, as well as providing some practical tools to support quality and effective communication. Because of this, levels of interaction between students and with the presenter will be high, with didactic ‘lecture style’ methods kept to a minimum.

Who should attend?

This course is designed for EL and SES level, or equivalent. It is relevant to public or private sector employees who seek to build trust with stakeholders, communities and the general public.

Course presenter(s)

Dr Pamela Kinnear

Pamela is an experienced policy professional, skilled facilitator and strategic thinker. Her consultancy work is grounded in a successful 20+ year career at senior executive levels across government, non-government sectors, as well as research institutes where she engaged in high-profile research and public policy commentary. This diverse background means that Pamela understands issues from a variety of perspectives, aware of the tensions and challenges involved in policy – especially in time-pressured, high-profile, or complex work. She is a skilled facilitator – committed to creative approaches to support sense-making and genuine engagement for those working with complex issues in challenging environments.

Pamela is a consultant for government and non-government clients, providing consulting and facilitation services in a range of areas such as policy analysis, engagement and implementation, risk and public trust, data and privacy, organisational culture and strategy, emotional intelligence, team and individual capacity development. She brings to this work an enthusiasm for interactive experiential thinking and learning methods that support innovative but realistic insights and transformative change for individuals, teams, projects and partnerships.

Pamela’s previous positions include:

  • Group Head, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Deputy Chief Executive, Universities Australia
  • Assistant Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (various positions, social policy)
  • Various executive positions Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Senior Research Fellow, The Australia Institute.

Updated:  29 January 2023/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team