MasterCraft Series - The APS: Being One, Being Many

Calls for a united APS have been around for a long time, but—as noted by the Independent Review of The Australian Public Service (the ‘Thodey’ Review)—the idea “remains more aspirational than descriptive of the current APS”. As part of APS Reform, the Government has committed to creating “a clear and inspiring purpose statement” for the APS that serves as “a unified vision that resonates with all public servants”.

At different times and places (especially in national crises), the APS has successfully operated in joined-up ways working to a common purpose.  The recent State of the Service Report noted that, by working as a single enterprise in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the APS was able to “facilitate rapid decision‑making, work across traditional boundaries, and align effort to deliver essential services”. The challenge now is how to best harness this capability, and embed a permanent practice across the APS.

The value of a ‘unifying purpose’ to organisational effectiveness and to drive reform is well established across the research literature – serving as a powerful impetus and guiderails for deep organisational and cultural transformation. But turning the idea of a unified APS from a pipe dream into reality is no easy task for a large, geographically dispersed, functionally diverse, and highly complex institution such as the APS.

This session explores the issues inherent in building unified APS – informed by both research and real-world experience.  Using a mixed approach of a panel of speakers and interactive audience engagement, we will consider the following questions:

  • what is needed to develop a powerful statement of purpose that is truly meaningful and relevant for all agencies, avoiding trite generalisations?
  • how can the transformative agenda unite without standardising the APS’s cultures and processes – embracing, not suppressing, its diversity and putting it to use?
  • what practical measures that can be taken at all levels of the APS to move towards a more united future?
  • what structural enabling factors need to be in place to support cross-agency collaboration?


Portrait of Garth Britton

Dr Garth Britton

Dr Garth Britton is Professor of Practice at QUT’s Graduate School of Business, based in its Canberra offices.  Garth’s work at QUT focusses on the design and delivery of innovative, custom-designed programs for the public sector that create real-world impact for the organisation and growth for participants. Garth has extensive private sector international senior leadership experience. His academic work has focussed on organisational change and culture, as well as co-design and social innovation. Garth maintains an active research program in public management, with a particular focus on how to better connect researchers and practitioners for improved outcomes. 


Portrait of Ali Jenkins

Ali Jenkins

Ali Jenkins is Head of the APS Reform Office, which works with teams across the Australian Public service to implement the Government’s public sector reform agenda. Ali joined the public service in 2004 and has held a range of economic, policy and transformation roles at PM&C, the Australian Public Service Commission, the Treasury, and the Australian Antarctic Division. Ali is based in Hobart.


Portrait of Pamela Kinnear

Dr Pamela Kinnear

Dr Pamela Kinnear is Professor of Practice at QUT’s Graduate School of Business, based in its Canberra offices.  Pamela has a lifelong interest in the theory and practice of public policy, with a career that spans senior roles in Australian Government agencies, non-government organisations, research institutes, universities and think tanks. At QUT Pamela designs, teaches and facilitates programs that support the professional growth and capability of public policy professionals.  She is also a professional facilitator and public policy consultant, specialising in innovative, research-informed methods to assist organisations and teams as they prepare for and implement complex policy issues, and embark on transformational change.  

Participant Benefits

  • Open your mind and learn from the research on how the APS can support diversity, organisation cultures and processes.
  • Gain a greater understanding of what a 'statement of purpose' means for unifying the APS.
  • Take away some practical measures for all levels of the APS.

Suitable for

APS 1 – SES Band 3

Craft and User level

This workshop aligns with the Working in Government Craft at the Foundation level.


Free of charge.


2 hours, 2:00pm - 4:00pm (AEDT)
Event type
Australia wide
$0 per attendee
40 seats