Policy essentials series

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Essentials


Understand how policy is made at the national level and develop strategies for communicating evidence effectively to your ministers and stakeholders through tools, theories, frameworks and practical case studies.

This series includes the following courses:

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.

This course will run as an online and distance program in 2024. It is scheduled to run for four weeks, 9 July – 1 August 2024, with a course orientation / meet and greet on Tuesday 9 July. Specific dates and times to note in your diary are as follows:

  • 10am-11am Tuesday 9 July 2024 – Course orientation / meet & greet session
  • 10am-12pm Thursday 11 July 2024
  • 10am-12pm Thursday 18 July 2024
  • 10am-12pm Thursday 25 July 2024
  • 10am-12pm Thursday 1 August 2024

Note: Dates and times are in Canberra time (AEST/GMT+10). The calendar invite for each session should automatically adjust to your timezone when you add it to your calendar. You can check at a site like this to be sure.

Course date: 
9 July – 1 August 2024
Online and distance


Please contact to join the waitlist.

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.

Expanding policy capability is an acknowledged skill gap and high priority for Australian public services, and learning and development teams struggle to provide such policy training in-house.

The Policy Essentials Series is designed to provide foundational knowledge and understanding of government and public policy processes for public servants who are either inexperienced in policy processes and/or are seeking to transition into more focussed policy roles. It can also extend the knowledge and understanding of government for those working in the private and non government sectors.

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:

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.


  • Greater understanding of how governments and ministers operate
  • Increased understanding of how good policy is made and how to extend your policy design capability
  • Expanded capability to use, critique and communicate evidence for policy design and implementation.

Who should attend the Series?

This course Series 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 Series 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.

Online training: How it works

This is a real-time, date-specific course, in which you will join live classes, engage and connect with experts, other course participants and the Executive Education team. Here’s how it works:

  • Pre-course live session. This is an opportunity for you to grab a cuppa and join our meet and greet before the course commences.
  • Practice + Study. Set aside up to 2 hours per day – this time commitment will vary depending on how deeply you choose to engage with the material. It is up to you.
  • Course pack. Each participant will receive a carefully curated workbook, which includes everything you need to guide you through the course.
  • Live sessions with presenter. This is a specified date and time for you to come together with the presenter and other participants to consolidate your learning.
  • Post-course. On completion of the course, you will receive your post-course resources for your reference and further learning.

Why choose online training?

  • No time off work – study and practice when you can.
  • Busy schedule? No problem, you can go at your own pace, join just the live classes, and do the course work whenever suits you best. We know that work and family obligations can be overwhelming. Mix and match the schedule to fit your life.
  • No travel. This is a course right at your fingertips. With no travel expenses, this is a very affordable option for high-level training with world-leading experts.
  • Live interaction with world-leading experts. You’ll have direct access to all the best resources and trainers.
  • Working remotely? With the online and distance format, we welcome participants from around the world to join us.


What if I can’t make a live session? No problem, we understand you are busy. Live sessions are recorded for you to catch up in your own time.

What if I’m in a different time zone? All advertised course times from 1st October 2023 to 6th April 2024 are scheduled in Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) otherwise known as GMT+11. From 6th April 2024 scheduled times are Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) or GMT+10. Convert for your time zone here.

What if I am not tech savvy? As long as you have access to a phone or computer, you will have no problems. Our online courses require a working laptop, desktop or smart device with good internet connection. Bring your headset. Join the tech-check session for support and insider tips.

I would like to purchase multiple courses, are there any discounts available? Yes, discount offers are available if you would like to book multiple courses throughout the year. You may contact us to discuss further options.

I work for a company or organisation that would like to enrol multiple employees in the same time. Is it possible? Yes, discounted rates are available for groups attending from the same organisation. Get in touch with us if you want to register as a group.

Can’t find the answers are you looking for? Contact our team for support at

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 Visiting Fellow at ANU, where her research projects include public policy initiatives in the education, early childhood and employment areas, and she has been engaged since 2011 in public policy teaching through the Crawford School Executive Education program. Her case study on early childhood reform (Universal preschool: the rocky path to policy change) can be accessed through the ANZSOG Case Library.

Trish has edited a book (Learning policy, doing policy: Interactions between public policy theory, practice and teaching), which has just been 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 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 Public Service Research Group at the UNSW in Canberra, where she is undertaking research on the importance of public servant agency in developing good policy and the role of evidence, innovation and learning. She also works for the World Bank in the Pacific on vocational education and training.

Wendy is a member of the Indigenous Evaluation Committee for the National Indigenous Australians Agency (since 2018). Previously she was a member of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Audit and Risk Committee (2016-20) and its Independent Evaluation Committee for Australian Aid (2012-2020). She has three degrees from the University of Newcastle (BA (hons) in History, Diploma of Computer Science, and Master of Engineering Science), as well as a PhD in Geography from Flinders University.

Updated:  25 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team