31 January 2014

Young Professional Inspired To Improve Policy After IPAA 2013

Winner of the IPAA WA 2013 Young Professional 'Expand Your Horizons' Scholarship, Ms Kate Louden, reviews her experience at the IPAA 2013 National Conference in Canberra.

The IPAA 2013 National Conference took place on 20-21 November 2013 in Canberra. The conference, titled Serving Australia in the 21st Century, provided a forum for debate, discussion and promotion of the public sector, focussing on the themes of ‘better, smarter, broader.’ It was an opportunity for those passionate about the public sector to engage with their peers and colleagues to improve public administration in Australia.

The Conference attracted over 600 delegates, taking part in more than 20 sessions across two days and featured more than 50 leading figures from the Commonwealth and state/territory public sectors, academia, industry and the international community.

I applied for the scholarship to broaden my understanding of the key challenges facing the public sector, and the opportunity to network with public sector professionals from across the country.

Over the course of the conference, the speakers left me enthused and motivated about my chosen profession, and thinking about ways that I can improve policy practice and efficiency within my agency.  Perhaps the greatest challenge when attending the conference was deciding which sessions to attend, with so many interesting presentations occurring at once!

The appeal of the Conference for me was the focus on the public sectors role in the Asian region, and I very much enjoyed the presentations shared by Ms Jenny McGregor AO, Professor Sofian Effendi, and Chris Moraitis on the public sectors role in the Asian century.  The speakers identified that success in the Asian century requires a whole-of-Australia effort, with businesses, communities and governments working together in partnership.  It is in the interests of the public service to develop the capabilities and connections that Australia will need, so that we can contribute to, and learn from, the region, and take full advantage of these opportunities.

Also of great interest was Mr George Megalogenis’ presentation on the relationship between journalists and the public sector.  He explained that good policies fail when journalists are not engaged early in the policy development process, and if journalists cannot explain complexities to the public, then the public will reject complex change.

Mr Gary Banks presented the Garran Oration for 2013, which was a discussion regarding the role for public servants in restoring trust in public policy.  He noted the delicate balancing act that public servants must perform: one in which they are worthy of the public’s trust, but also retain the trust of their ministers while ‘talking truth to power’.

On return from the conference I gave a presentation to my colleagues on some of the key aspects of the conference, which generated much discussion, and a little jealousy! To conclude, I would like to thank IPAA WA for the opportunity to attend the conference, and I look forward to working with the Institute to make the 2014 IPAA Conference in Perth even bigger and better than Canberra.

To find out more about applying for the 2014 IPAA Young Professional Scholarship - click here.