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Building bridges between governments

24 February 2021

Navigating Australia’s intergovernmental system presents challenges to even the most seasoned of public servants and policymakers. Yet despite the crucial role they play in the federal system, public servants have to learn these skills ‘on the job’. Crawford’s upcoming short course on intergovernmental management will help policymakers to address this issue.

Policymakers are key to ensuring that Australia’s governments are working together efficiently.

Dr Isi Unikowski, presenter of Crawford’s upcoming ‘Fundamentals of Intergovernmental Management’ short course, said that with the establishment of a National Cabinet in place of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) intergovernmental collaboration is just as important, but it’s less clear on how it will happen.

“Public servants need to work across Commonwealth-State boundaries on all the policy areas that used to feed into COAG, but without the formal structures it contained,” he said.

The recent Australian Public Service Thodey Review found that the relationship between the Commonwealth public service and those in other jurisdictions was ‘typically uneasy and underachieving… Arguably it has become less effective over time, even as the importance of the relationship has increased’.

With this insight in mind, Crawford developed the ‘Fundamentals of Intergovernmental Management’ short course - one of only a few in the whole country specifically designed to train public service managers in the practice of intergovernmental management.

“The public does not feel governments are working well together, resulting in low levels of trust, and criticism by bodies like the Productivity Commission,” Dr Unikowski said.

“In this course, you will learn about the challenges of federalism, how leadership is exercised in an intergovernmental context, the rules of bargaining and negotiation, and the different ways strategies are developed and implemented at the individual and organisational levels.”

Directly addressing the issues pointed out in the APS Thodey review surrounding trust, cooperation and lack of intergovernmental cooperation, the course will give participants both a better theoretical understanding of interests and views they are likely to encounter, and practical skills from using policy instruments to building effective networks.

“It will really benefit middle managers embarking on, or already working on policy development and implementation in an interjurisdictional setting in the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and officials in statutory authorities,” Dr Unikowski said.

Each participant will also have the opportunity to attend a post-course mentoring session with the presenter.

“During that session, we might discuss intergovernmental management styles and how they relate to the participant’s own experience.”

Secure your place for our ‘Fundamentals of Intergovernmental Management’ short course and save $300 using the code: INTERGOV

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