Guest blog: What is Policy?

 

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Image: Hans Peter Gauster (Unsplash)

What Is Policy?

I had been asking myself – and everyone else – this question a hundred times this week. ‘What is Policy?’

True to my millennial breeding,  I turn to Google.

Policy.

Noun: policy; plural noun: policies

  • a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organisation or individual.

Your standard stiff dictionary definition – but I didn’t want a textbook definition, or politician’s definition either.

I wanted to know what YOU thought Policy meant. I wanted to know what everyone else thought it meant, and WHY it might be important.

This was one of my first tasks. On my first day at APO, I stepped out of a brand meeting in which we were discussing the many facets of what Policy is, does and can be.

For me, the meeting opened up a pandora’s box of what policy actually is – action.
Did anyone pick up on the contradiction that the word ‘policy’ is a noun defined by a verb – action?

The act of policy encompasses a lot of what we take for granted in our day to day lives.

It is the prevention, the response, the intervention, the technology, the improvement, the catalyst, the continuation, the past, the present, the future – policy is the entire network of what regulates our lives.

It’s a lot. Continue reading “Guest blog: What is Policy?”

Fighting poverty with evidence – an interview with Dr Naomi Rutenberg

GEISAPO will be attending the Global Evidence and Implementation Summit (GEIS) 2018 this October – in the lead up, we offer a taste of some of the speakers. 

In this interview, Dr Naomi Rutenberg, Principal Associate, The Forest Hills Group, shares her thoughts on the changing role of evidence in the international development sector. Dr Naomi Rutenberg will deliver a much-anticipated presentation at the Global Evidence and Implementation Summit (GEIS) 2018 in Melbourne, 22-24 October.

Over your career, how have you seen the role of evidence change within the international development sector?

‘First, the attention to evidence for monitoring progress and identifying effective approaches and programs has increased exponentially – and all easily accessed through the internet. There are numerous trackers, such as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and HIV data trackers, of development program outputs and outcomes, hundreds of program evaluations produced by groups like 3ie and Innovations for Poverty Action, and massive open data banks at the World Bank and elsewhere.

‘In addition to a huge increase in the amount of evidence, evidence is also being used in different ways – well beyond program evaluation or tracking progress. One example is for micro-targeting program resources, where there is great need for program investments. An illustration of this is using data on recent HIV infections to identify “hotspots” of HIV transmission to prioritise for interventions. Another is combining research methods, such as impact evaluation and implementation research, to understand not only if a program works but for whom and why.’

How is evidence helping to address international development challenges and needs? Continue reading “Fighting poverty with evidence – an interview with Dr Naomi Rutenberg”

APO Forum 2018 – themes and speakers announced

The second APO Annual Forum will be held on 25 October 2018 at Engineers Australia in Melbourne. Tickets can be purchased from the Eventbrite page.  Follow updates on Twitter #APOForum2018

The APO Forum brings together policy people from a wide range of sectors including education, government, commercial,  NGOs, as well as think tanks, media and more. It provides a platform for shared expertise, experience, learnings, and an opportunity for academics, researchers, policy professionals, and students to connect.

APO-Forum-2018-Eventbrite-(2160x1080)

Redesigning the Public Knowledge System

Across government, academia, the community sector and industry, the production, use and management of publicly funded research and information is in crisis – both in Australia and around the world. Determined efforts are underway in many sectors but often occur in isolation from other campaigns and without a sense of the wider system.

Held during International Open Access week, the second APO Forum will focus on ‘Redesigning the Public Knowledge System: New Tools and Strategies for Research, Policy and Practice’ and respond to the Open Access week call to ‘Design the equitable foundations for open knowledge’.

We would like the Forum to further our understanding of the issues affecting research publishing and use in public policy, practice and industry, and look at how we can change aspects of the system to ensure public knowledge is F.A.I.R. (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) now and into the future. The discussion topics will cover:

  • The challenges and opportunities for research engagement and impact, knowledge mobilisation, equity and access, open government
  • Innovative publishing and social data platforms
  • The potential and dangers of new technologies and automated decision-making
  • Business models and strategies for reinventing and supporting the public value of knowledge.

Speakers

We are delighted to announce a stellar lineup of speakers. They include:

  • Dr Howard White – CEO, Campbell Collaboration (APO Forum keynote speaker)
  • Assoc. Prof Catherine Althaus – Associate Dean (Academic), Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG)
  • Dr Amir Aryani – Head of Social Data Analytics Lab, Social Innovation Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Prof Ginny Barbour – Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG), Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  • Dr Ken Coghill – Chair, Open Government Partnership, Civil Society Network
  • Prof Jane Farmer – Director, Social Innovation Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Prof Lisa Given – Associate Dean (Research and Engagement), Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Prof Susan Luckman – Professor, Cultural Studies in the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia (UniSA)
  • Karen Mahlab AM – Founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia
  • Pru Mitchell – Manager of Information Services, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
  • Gwenda Thomas – Director,  Scholarly Services & University Librarian, The University of Melbourne
  • Prof Julian Thomas – Director, Enabling Capability Platform (ECP), Social Change, RMIT University.

We will update you on the full program shortly.

Lightning talks and workshops

The Forum will provide a unique opportunity for delegates to participate in 5 minute lighting talks on the above themes. In addition, there will be a film screening of Paywall at ACMI X on Wednesday 24 October, as well as a number of workshops to be held on Friday 26 October at Swinburne University – more details to be announced soon.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Highlights from the KM2018 conference

In the first week of July, Amanda Lawrence and I attended the Knowledge Mobilisation Conference (KM2018) in Sydney, hosted by the Sax Institute. It was a packed event, with an audience of about 60 per cent researchers, 20 per cent policy makers, and the rest somewhere in between.

Amanda presenting at KM2018
Amanda presenting at 2018 Knowledge Mobilisation conference in Sydney

bridge

The discussions and workshops were all about ways to bridge the gap between researchers and policy makers. The focus was on health, but the learnings are applicable across all public policy.

My key points from the conference:

Finding, building and sustaining relationships

Researchers are challenged by the situation where people in government adviser roles change frequently, making it difficult to engage, and sustain engagement.

And from the other side, it is hard to ‘find an expert’.

While at the same time it is recognised that relationship building, and ‘deliberative dialogues’, help with knowledge translation.

Speaking the right language, as well as listening the right way Continue reading “Highlights from the KM2018 conference”

Catch APO at conferences and events in 2018

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APO will be out and about in the coming months, attending many conferences and events – if you see us come and say hello!

June

HealthInfoNet Roundtable

APO Director Amanda Lawrence presented at the HealthInfoNet Roundtable on 6 June in Melbourne. HealthInfoNet is an organisation ‘helping to close the gap by providing the evidence base to inform practice and policy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health’. HealthInfoNet have recently updated their website, and have developed a short video on the redesign. This site is crucial to anyone working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait health sector.

HealthInfoNet Melbourne Roundtable speakers_June 2018
HealthInfoNet Melbourne Roundtable speakers, June 2018

VCOSS Good Life Summit

With a state election coming up in Victoria, the Victorian Council of  Social Service VCOSS Good Life Summit  on 13 June delivered a terrific day of presentations, conversations and networking across the policy and social sectors. In the words of VCOSS: ‘Delivering a good life for all Victorians, regardless of their background or individual circumstances, must be on the agenda for the 2018 State Election, and beyond.’summit_webbanner (1).png

Amanda Lawrence and Michelle Zwagerman attended the event with thanks to our partnership with VCOSS. Continue reading “Catch APO at conferences and events in 2018”

APO data live in Research Data Australia

After a long project we are very pleased to say that APO as a database as well as all of the datasets we host are now able to be searched and accessed via Research Data Australia.

And we have a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for APO so if you want to cite APO as a whole – if you are perhaps writing about the importance of open access databases as a source of evidence for public policy or that you used APO overall for a project –  please include doi.org/10.4225/50/5b15c09dbc286 in your reference as it will help us to to trace this more easily.

Research Data Australia is a project of the Australian National Data Service which helps researchers find, access, and reuse data from over one hundred Australian research organisations, government agencies, and cultural institutions. It does not store the data itself but provides descriptions of, and links to, the data from their data publishing partners such as APO. Research Data Australia caters specifically for researchers but also has broader relevance to others including policy makers, educators and business people. Continue reading “APO data live in Research Data Australia”

APO Forum 2018 – save the date!

The second APO Annual Forum will be held on 25 October 2018 at Engineers Australia in Melbourne. Tickets can be purchased from the Eventbrite page.  Follow updates on Twitter #APOForum2018

In 2017 APO held its first public forum to celebrate our 15 year anniversary and bring together key partners and friends to discuss some of the many pressing issues in the delivery of evidence-informed public policy and better access and use of research. Videos of the presentations are available here.

APO-Forum-2018-Block-(300x250)This was the first of what we now consider to be an annual event. So please mark your calendars for the 2018 APO Annual Forum which will be held on Thursday 25 October in Melbourne – again at the Engineers Australia conference space in the city. It is the day after the Global Evidence and Implementation conference so a great week to be in Melbourne!

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for the program please get in touch with Emily Silvester (esilvester@apo.org.au) or Michelle Zwagerman (mzwagerman@apo.org.au) – it is still very open at this stage. We will be finalising the program in August following discussion with the APO Advisory Board and input from the APO community.