MasterCraft Series - Public sector policy skills seminar

(Re)building public sector policy capability for national resilience

Concerns about the hollowing out of policy capability in the Australian public service have been raised with increasing frequency in recent years. The APS Reform’s priority for an ‘APS that has the capability to do its job well’ – is built, in part, on the observations in the Thodey Review that APS policy capability is not what it should be. As a 2021 paper on the intersection of national resilience and public policy capability maintained, ‘building back better’ after COVID would require the APS to 'harness knowledge effectively and efficiently to bring the best possible advice to government on how to face future challenges, both known and as yet unknown'.  

In this MasterCraft session, some authors of this paper will join in conversation with key APS staff tasked with re-building the APS’ policy capability. The conversation will tackle head-on issues such as:

  • How to re-value deep, specialist knowledge as well as work across boundaries in agile and innovative ways.
  • The role of (and mechanisms for obtaining), contestable policy advice.
  • What do we really mean by ‘capability’ anyhow, and how does that fit with the idea of the public service ‘craft’? 


Panel members Pamela Kinnear and David de Carvalho are co-authors of a 2021 paper for the National Resilience Project entitled ‘Enhancing public sector policy capability for a COVID world’ (a joint initiative of Global-Access Partners and Institute for Integrated Economic Research Australia).


Headshot 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. Dr Kinnear 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 Dr Kinnear 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.


David de Carvalho

David de Carvalho 

David de Carvalho has been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) since March 2019. He has extensive experience in leading major reforms at both national and state level and a deep personal passion for, and understanding of, education. Immediately prior to ACARA, he was CEO of the NSW Education Standards Authority. He has held senior roles in the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and the Commonwealth departments of Treasury, Health and Ageing, Finance and Deregulation, Education, and Prime Minister and Cabinet. He has also been seconded to work in two ministerial officers in senior adviser roles. From 1998-2003 he was CEO of the National Catholic Education Commission. He started his career as a secondary school teacher, and has served on the boards of Centrelink, the Australian Council of Educational Research, and the Curriculum Corporation (now Education Services Australia).


Catherine Hawkins

Catherine Hawkins

Catherine Hawkins is head of the Cyber Strategy Implementation Taskforce in Home Affairs. Catherine has extensive policy experience working for the Australian Government over a 30-year period. In the Department of Home Affairs she has also led the Strategic Research and Communication Division and the Social Cohesion and Multicultural Affairs Division. In the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, she led the Office for Women and was Co-Champion for Ability. Prior to that she led many teams over nearly 25 years in the Attorney-General’s Department working on diverse issues including transnational crime, anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism, anti-corruption, overseas law and justice aid work, administrative law, access to justice, copyright and human rights.

Catherine counts her Jawun secondment with the NPY Women’s Council as a career highlight. Catherine’s not-for-profit experience also includes a secondment to Our Watch, Australia’s national organisation for the prevention of violence against women, and board experience, including on community legal centre management committees. Catherine’s joy project outside work is A Major Lift, a donor circle she founded five years ago to raise money to commission new Australian music to be premiered at the annual Canberra International Music Festival. Catherine has an Arts/Law degree from the University of Sydney, a Masters in Law from Fordham University and a Master in Public Policy from Princeton University.


Faye Liu

Faye Liu - Assistant Commissioner, APS Craft and Learning, APS Academy 

Faye Liu joined the APS Academy in August 2023 as the Assistant Commissioner for the APS Craft and Learning Branch. Faye has worked in the Policy Projects and Taskforce Office (PPTO) assisting the Prime Minister and Australian Government with policy development on cross-cutting public policy challenges using management consulting methods adapted from the private sector.

Across 12 years working in the Policy Projects and Taskforce Office and its predecessor, Faye led, managed and coached teams for 25 major projects including cross-agency governance teams and policy development. Additionally, Faye has led project teams focused on the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as initiating projects on a number of key social policy and strategic policy issues across innovation and science, counter-terrorism, cyber security and violence against women.



Professor Ken Smith AO

Professor Ken Smith AO

Professor Ken Smith AO. Professor Smith brings extensive, senior and diverse public sector experience from roles in ANZSOG, NSW, Tasmania and for almost three decades for the Queensland government. He was previously CEO and Dean of ANZSOG from 2017 to 2022, headed the Queensland Public Service as Director General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet between 2007 and 2011, and held various department chief executive officer positions in Queensland from the early ’90s.

Participant benefits

  • Hear first-hand a discussion on what is highly topical to today's APS on the subject of 'capability uplift'.
  • Learn more how you might integrate specialist knowledge in your policy development approach.

Suitable for

APS 1 – SES Band 1.

Category and User level

This workshop aligns with the Strategy, Policy and Evaluation Craft at the Foundation level.

How to register - Additional Information

  • To enrol in this session you will need a valid APSLearn profile. 
  • Steps on how to create an APSLearn profile or to view FAQs can be found here.
  • If you have moved Departments or you have multiple APSLearn profiles, you can request to merge your profiles here
2-hour face-to-screen session. 2:00PM - 4:00PM (AEDT)
Event type
Australia wide
$0 per attendee
160 seats