Guest blog: Practical tested actions for the social sector in the digital economy – by Professor Jane Farmer

In the lead up to the Society 4.0 Forum, Director of the Social Innovation Research Institute at Swinburne University of Technology, Professor Jane Farmer, explains why it is crucial to ensure that social good is supported as automation increases.

Social good in the digital economy

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is already upon us. Industry 4.0 means disruption to how society works – due to the potential capabilities of mass data digitisation linked with technologies such as AI, automation, machine learning and predictive analytics. ‘Digital economy’ refers to an economy that is based on these technologies.

Society 4.0 is the area where the societal implications of living with, adapting to, and securing wellbeing in, the digital economy come together – it’s where technology meets humanity.

Social good organisations must adapt so the future is not just the domain of large faceless organisations – the only ones that can afford to keep up with change, new technology and employ data specialists. Our mission at the Social Innovation Research Institute is to support non-profits, government and communities to thrive in Society 4.0.

Society 4.0 toolkit and solutions

For the past year, we’ve been scanning the globe to find initiatives where communities and social good organisations are meeting Society 4.0 head-on. We’ve done this by testing audacious and inspiring actions, so that social good survives and isn’t trampled out as automation arrives. 

Society 4.0 draws together a toolkit of top-quality international leaders to support individuals and organisations to gear up for the digital economy happening now and causing significant social disruption. Society 4.0 delivers several major themes with an impressive lineup of Forum speakers driving the change for good:

  • Communities powered with data and public interest tech: World-leader in forming data collaboratives to make collective impact and outcomes measurement happen, Stefaan Verhulst from GovLab at New York University, will present on developing data collectives. Tom Dawkins from StartSomeGood, along with a panel of top social innovation technology entrepreneurs, will explain how to ignite a public interest tech sector to bring new jobs and better technology. Entrepreneur Alvaro Maz from Code for Australia will discuss how the public sector can radically reskill.
  • Work and wellbeing in Society 4.0: Providing practical solutions for organisations and governments, Alice Martin from the New Economics Foundation UK and Geri Sumpter from Beyond Blue will deliver ways to make people well at work and to take responsibility for wellness to system level. Nicolette Barnard from Siemens and human services leader Jo Cavanagh from Family Life will explore methods to reengineer social services in an interactive conversation that invites your input.

Society 4.0 gives you real things to start doing now – for people in a better society.  Don’t miss this.

The Society 4.0 Forum is presented by the Social Innovation Research Institute at Swinburne University of Technology on 30 October 2019. Register now to attend this solutions-orientated event, filled with practical tools and strategies for social good to survive and succeed in the digital economy.

APO Workshop – Systematic Reviews for the Social Sciences

APO held its first workshop following the APO Annual Forum in October at Swinburne University of Technology. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Julia Littell, Professor of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College (US) who also works with the The Campbell Collaboration, an organisation dedicated to evidence synthesis for evidence-based policy and practice. 

‘It was wonderful to see such highly engaged participants from a broad range of sectors at APO’s first workshop. The diversity in the room allowed for unique sharing of experience and ideas – not only by our knowledgeable workshop leader Julia, but from the participants themselves.’

APO Director Amanda Lawrence
Dr Julia Littell

Dr Julia Littell’s Systematic Reviews for the Social Sciences slides are now available to view. We’d like to thank Julia for her brilliant systematic reviews thought leadership on the day and for allowing us to make this resource publicly available. 

Continue reading “APO Workshop – Systematic Reviews for the Social Sciences”

APO attends Oceans and Islands Conference

Oceans and Islands Conference : APO Collections Editor Penelope Aitken, Dr Jackie Tuaupiki and Prof. David Robie

In late November APO Collections Editor Penelope Aitken travelled to speak at the New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research’s Oceans and Islands Conference in Auckland.

While she considered the niche and nerdy topic of ‘The catalogue as a cultural practice’ she was delighted to share a panel with the ‘impressively young’ senior lecturer, Dr Jackie Tuaupiki from Waikato University discussing the reclamation of ancient Māori navigational knowledge as well as the extremely eminent former Rainbow Warrior crusader, Prof. David Robie speaking of the Pacific Media Centre and a concerning turn against media freedom during Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) being hosted in Papua New Guinea.

‘These and many other speakers were inspiring to learn of and to seek out for inclusion in APO’s Pacific Research Collection as it navigates into its second year on APO,’ said Penelope of her trip to New Zealand. 

APO Collections Editor Penelope Aitken

APO Events – October 2018

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APO Forum 2018: Redesigning the Public Knowledge System – Thursday 25 October

The APO Annual Forum is being held next weekTo redesign the public knowledge system is a group effort, so there will be time for discussion and we will be filming and writing up the results of the day for publication. This is a very special event which we hope will lead to further advocacy and action on the issues raised. You can download the Program here. It’s not too late to Register!

This year we are also hosting a free networking event and film screening, and a workshop with US based academic Julia Littell on systematic reviews and evidence-based policy. See below for details.

Introduction to Systematic Reviews for Evidence-Based Policy: One day workshop – Friday 26 October

Systematic reviews are an increasingly popular approach to evaluating research and evidence across health and social science disciplines and now being used in many policy areas. The aim is to ensure your research and analysis is planned, structured and logical.

Dr Julia Littell headshot
Dr Julia Littell

This workshop will be presented by Dr Julia Littell, Professor of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College (US) who also works with the The Campbell Collaboration, an organisation dedicated to evidence synthesis for evidence-based policy and practice. Introduction to Systematic Reviews for the Social Sciences will be held on  Friday 26 October at Swinburne University. This full day workshop is only $50/25 with lunch and slide printouts included. Book tickets

Paywall The Business of Scholarship: Networking drinks and film screening at ACMI X – Wednesday 24 

PaywallIn support of Open Access Week APO is hosting a FREE screening of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship on Wednesday 24 October. Join us for networking drinks from 6pm and film screening at 7pm at ACMI X, behind the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road. This documentary is essential viewing for anyone involved in academic research and publishing, or open science. Register here


Paywall image
Paywall: The Business of Scholarship

Get in touch

If you have questions about any APO events you can email us at

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.


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.

Download the Program.


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.

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


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”