Policy Essentials Series

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Essentials


While the world of policy is often chaotic and unpredictable, academic concepts and frameworks can help policy makers to understand how policy issues are identified and analysed and the major policy instruments available to government in reaching and communicating its decisions. This Series will explain how policy is made at the national level, highlighting the importance of understanding your minister and the government for whom you work. The Series will demonstrate how keeping a strong focus on implementation improves policy making, particularly in advising on the choice of instruments for implementing a policy. It will also help participants to identify and deal with the challenges in developing evidence-informed policy and programs. The course 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.

Course date: 
9.30am–4.30pm 21 October 2020
9.30am–4.30pm 22 October 2020
#132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Before 6 October 2020: $2,195 for enrolment in the Series (saving of $195 off the price of purchasing each day separately).

After 7 October 2020: $2,495 for enrolment in the Series (saving of $195 off the price of purchasing each day separately).


$1,195 per day: What you need to know to design and implement good policy and Using evidence and data for good policy design and implementation

Group discounts available.

Course overview


  • To introduce you to the theory and practice of policy making and help you become a confident adviser on policy and its effective implementation.
  • To help you use evidence and data to become a confident participant in the policy design and implementation processes.

Topics to be covered:

  • understanding governments and ministers in the Australian context
  • policy making at the national level including the Budget cycle
  • employing policy frameworks
  • key stages in the policy and program cycle
  • designing good policy and choosing the right policy instruments for effective implementation, including consideration of risk
  • 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.


  • Increased understanding of how good policy is made
  • Increased policy design capability
  • Expanded capability to use and critique evidence for policy design and implementation.

Who should attend the Series?

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.

Updated:  7 July 2020/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team