Policy essentials: accelerating your policy development

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Essentials


This course draws on research insights and examples from major social policy reforms to demonstrate the features of policy success and failure, and to show how sometimes both are evident in the one policy. Participants will be introduced to case studies and academic concepts which can assist them to understand how success at times can be a protracted and fraught process and how policy failures can offer valuable insights, particularly for implementation. Participants will identify where in the policy design process these types of insights can be utilised, including through risk analysis and in ministerial briefings

See related courses: Policy Essentials 1 and Policy Essentials 2

Course overview

Core topics:

  • insights from academic research into policy success and failure;
  • unpicking success employing social policy case studies;
  • how initial failure can be followed by later policy success;
  • the influence of pre-existing mental models and cognitive bias;
  • putting it together in terms of practical application.

The structure of the day is based around presentations followed by practical exercises to embed learnings.

Learning objectives

Our learning objectives are to accelerate policy development skills through learning how to use academic concepts to critically examine current and past policies in order to understand the key elements leading to policy success or failure, and to identify where these learnings can be used both in policy making and implementation.

Who should attend?

This workshop is designed for public servants who have some policy experience. It is designed to deliver deeper learning and more complex content to the courses that precede it. It is also appropriate for those in private and non-government sectors who work closely with government on policy and delivery issues.

Course presenter(s)

Dr Trish Mercer

Trish is a Visiting Fellow in the Australia and New Zealand School of Government at the Australian National University, and is a regular presenter in the Crawford School of Public Policy’s National Executive Education. Previously she enjoyed a diverse career spanning 30 years in the Australian Public Service, with over 20 at the senior executive level, which involved policy development, community education, program implementation and direct service delivery experience. Her research interests and publications are focussed on public policy issues in social policy, particularly in education and early childhood, and her current ANZSOG research project explores how public servants learn their jobs and the role for policy theory in supporting their skills development.

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 a number of government committees. These include the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Audit and Risk Committee, and its Independent Evaluation Committee for Australian Aid, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Indigenous Evaluation Committee, and the NSW government’s Advisory Group for Aboriginal Affairs Research. 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.

Updated:  25 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team