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
Frameworks and methodologies
The Australian Public Service Framework for Engagement and Participation helps public servants better engage with citizens, community and businesses. Whether you’re working on policy, programs or service delivery, you will gain practical guidance including ways to engage people and engagement principles and standards for the Australian public sector.
The International Association for Public Participation is the peak body for the community and stakeholder engagement sector. The standards document describes the important elements of any engagement process and was developed in response to requests for a set of ‘standardised principles’ to ensure consistency in quality and support those carrying out the process. It also allows any process to be audited against a defined standard for simpler evaluation and quality assurance.
Tools and templates
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources provides an interactive guide to the right engagement to help you choose the best approach to take when engaging with stakeholders and citizens. This will enable you to design and deliver fit-for-purpose engagement activities.
The Australian Public Service Commission has provided some practical tips and tools for engaging with stakeholders, particularly when establishing a taskforce.
Networks and centres of excellence
The APS Engage team within the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources provide advice, tools and coaching to support public servants to get the maximum value from engagement activities.
A global association seeking to advance and extend the practice of public participation through professional development, certification, standards of practice, core values, advocacy and key initiatives with strategic partners around the world.
The Open Government Partnership’s Practice Group on Dialogue and Deliberation was created to foster and support the use of deliberative practices in government. This page contains a collection of papers on public deliberation, researched and written by the practice group.
The Promise of Co-design for Public Policy, an article by Emma Blomkamp, explores co-design in public policy, which was published in the Australian Journal of Public Administration.
APS Academy Courses
Designing Public Deliberation Engagement Process – Face to face
This program aims to assist APS practitioners to work even more effectively with citizens and stakeholders to solve complex problems through developing win/win solutions using the deliberative engagement process.
Identify and examine internal and external work relationships, their relevance and the importance of achieving mutual success. Aspects of self-awareness, personal effectiveness and maintaining productive relationships - even during the difficult times are explored. Share and develop good ways to plan for and participate in meetings.
This program helps to identify the benefits of working effectively with stakeholders. Understand the most appropriate stakeholders and the most appropriate form of engagement.
Professional representation in the APS – Face to Face
This program covers the basics of representation in the workplace. Understand the protocols and etiquette of representation and develop motivation and confidence in representing your agency. Importantly, examine the handling of sensitive information and the benefits of including cultural and linguistic diversity.
Influence, Negotiation and Persuasion - Virtual
Explore aspects of influence and the psychology of persuasion. Understand how verbal and physical language affects interpersonal exchanges, including negotiations, meetings and briefings. Build your practical knowledge and experience through discussion and participation.
Influence, Negotiation and Persuasion for Executive Levels – Virtual
This course examines aspects of influence and persuasion and the negotiation skills essential for managing and leading at the executive level. Aspects of leadership and influence and the psychology of persuasion are explored. Work through areas where influence benefits work, for example, communicating with influence, influencing strategy, negotiation styles and how to apply them.
Visual Scribing 101 - Basics for Beginners – Virtual
Visual Scribing is the process of listening, synthesising and using both words and images to visually conceptualise ideas and discussions. It can be used for strategising, brainstorming, planning, storytelling, presenting ideas and much more.
This course has been developed by one of our leading public service visual scribes and tested over the years for use in government. You will get an introduction to the principles, tools and techniques of Visual Scribing and how to apply them to your work.
Visual Scribing Deep Dive – Face-to-Face
Visual Scribing is about the process of listening, synthesising and using both words and images to visually conceptualise ideas and discussions. It can be used for strategising, brainstorming, planning, storytelling, presenting ideas and much more.
For those that have done the visual scribing 101 course for beginners, this is the next instalment. We will deep dive into live scribing presentations and events. You will learn and practice the process of capturing, synthesising and organising information in a meaningful way.
Sketch-Noting Meetings and Conferences – Virtual
Sketch-noting is a technique, framed within visual thinking, which consists of taking notes in a more creative way by combining the use of handwritten text with graphic elements (usually simple drawings). Sketch-notes are generally a personal capture of just about anything (even a holiday) for you to recall later.
Some of the benefits of sketch-noting include activating your creativity improving memory recall of the event, helping to summarise points and any connections between them, increasing the visibility of the information (if you share your notes) and more.
Presentation Skills – Virtual
This is a practical and participative course to build confidence in giving presentations. Examine the learning techniques, structures and elements that create and deliver good presentations. Learn how to present with confidence and make use of that nervous energy. Use a step-by-step plan to create presentations and use visual aids to make the content memorable and engaging. Try your hand at presenting to a small group and receive advice and constructive feedback. The course is filled with suggestions, ideas and insights that will assist participants to develop their own personal presentation and facilitation styles. It uses a highly interactive approach, with participants given the opportunity to make several short presentations and workshop deliveries.