Engagement & Partnership
Working with others to shape policy and services that drive better outcomes for the Australian community.
Effective engagement and partnership is the craft of connecting to and working with stakeholders to harness collective knowledge, professionalism and expertise. It’s how we work, network and collaborate with individuals, communities, businesses and all levels of government to achieve the best possible outcomes for Australia.
Engagement and Partnership is built on a foundation of trust, transparency and open communication, and should always be clear on intent.
APS Craft: Engagement and Partnership - Letitia Hope
What are Engagements and Partnerships?
Partnerships across government can be created in lots of different ways. It can be through formal mechanisms, memorandums of understanding. It can be through all kinds of governance documents, contracts, et cetera. Whereas engagements and stakeholder management might have some terms of reference, or they might have some looser forms of documentation to support the outcome or the purpose, but they don't have the same kind of transparency mechanisms as a formal partnership.
Why do we engage and partner?
It is the cornerstone of good government, it's the cornerstone of good governance to engage and understand. And why do we engage? It's because we work with people, we have to work with people and so engagement and the health of relationships, and being able to understand good boundaries between those things, but also trust and reliability in the things that underpin good engagement are really important parts of what we do.
Why is it important to engage and partner?
In the public sector, we deal with complex policy issues. And so trying to understand those things from a range of different perspectives so that we can make sure that we can provide good advice to government, which is part of our key role, is really fundamental, but also trying to understand the experience from your client or your customer or your stakeholder's perspective.
How will engagements and partnerships help the APS service the Australian people?
That engagement level, and getting that feedback from the ground so that we continually improve the way we do our business and continue to increase trust from community and Australian citizens, reliability from community and Australian citizens, is really important. And we never want to be in a system that's not open to feedback.
How do I improve my ability to engage and partner?
I do believe that practise makes perfect. So the more you can engage with these kinds of things before you're on the spot, the more confident you are when you are engaging with them on the spot. And being able to do that kind of role-playing and stretching and case studying and talking to other public servants who have a range of different experiences and a range of different stories to tell and share, I think is a really important way of the way that we learn and the way that we grow our experience.
What’s your best advice for good partnerships and engagements?
You need to have some humility. You don't have all the answers. Otherwise, you're not in a room co-designing, you've already decided the answer. So you're not then pliable to hear what they have to say and let that reshape the advice or let that reshape the approach.
How will the APS Academy help APS partnerships and engagements?
When we come together in some way, like the academy, we can actually start to learn each other's language, each other's customs. So then when I'm now trying to solve a problem, instead of having that communication barrier with you, because I don't understand what you're saying, I've now got some common language that I can use to kind of broker those solutions. So that starts from within the department or in your agency or in the public service. And that proliferates out across community, stakeholders, industry, and so on and so forth. And that's really part of our craft.
Engagement and Partnership is established through:
- Understanding the needs of stakeholders, issues on the ground and remaining open to diverse ways of engaging
- Building respectful, mutually beneficial relationships with shared knowledge and understanding
- Being transparent about the nature of the engagement and the collective risk
- Sharing insights to guide policy, program development and decisions for impactful delivery
- Recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion and those whose voices may be underrepresented
- Continuing engagement when appropriate by maintaining feedback loops; or concluding in a meaningful way that sustains stakeholder relationships