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APPENDIX 2 Case Studies

Australian Government Natural Resource Management Team


The Australian Government Natural Resource Management (NRM) Team is responsible for the Australian Government's strategy on sustainable use and conservation of land, water, soil and vegetation resources. It is the whole of government 'one voice' of Australian government engagement in natural resource management with stakeholders and clients, and has carriage for delivering the twin objectives of sustainable agricultural production and environmental protection.

The NRM Team was established in 2002 as a joint initiative between the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to co-deliver two major national NRM programs-the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP). This joint approach to program delivery grew out of recognition of the 'logical fit' between the core objectives of both DAFF and DEH, and the need to provide seamless delivery to the Australian community.

The NHT aims to stimulate activities to achieve the conservation, sustainable use and repair of Australia's natural environment, and has a budget of $1 billion between 2002 and 2007. The aim of the NAP is to enable Australian communities to prevent, stabilise and reverse trends in dryland salinity and deteriorating water quality in key catchments and regions. The NAP involves a joint commitment from the Australian, state and territory governments of $1.4 billion between 2000 and 2007. Both programs are based around integrated planning and delivery at a regional community level.

The NRM Team works closely with state natural resource management agencies to support regional communities to develop and implement natural resource management plans.

The NRM Team comprises more than 100 DEH and DAFF employees, working side by side to deliver the two programs. Employees are fully integrated into combined sections within the team and are equally split across the buildings of the two departments. The team delivers NRM programs, but NRM policy issues are still managed by separate areas within the two departments.

The NRM Team works directly to two Australian government ministers, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. These ministers co-chair the multi-jurisdictional Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, comprising federal, state and territory environment and agriculture ministers. These ministerial links provide a strong mandate for an integrated national approach to natural resource management by the Australian Government in partnership with the states and territories.

Key players

  • Department of the Environment and Heritage
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • State and territory natural resource management agencies
  • Regional natural resource management organisations
  • Indigenous organisations
  • Non-government natural resource management organisations
  • Industry groups
  • Local governments

Overview of learnings

The NRM initiative demonstrates the benefit of joint delivery arrangements when there is a logical fit of objectives, despite the logistical complexities it may entail.

In the case of natural resource management, where the issues and activities are so interconnected, the integrated approach adopted by the two departments provided the best means of coordination to move business forward. The consequent joint program delivery approach is resulting in better strategic outcomes.

The NRM Team approach has also demonstrated the advantages of simplifying the face of government to clients when dealing with the same target audiences on related matters. A single Australian government approach to natural resource management has meant a stronger and more influential position with states and other stakeholders.

The effectiveness of the NRM Team in delivering on the Australian Government's natural resource management strategy can be attributed to:

  • having clear, joint objectives that are understood and shared at all levels of the team
  • a high level of political and APS mandate for integrated outcomes
  • a recognition that joint decision-making processes can take longer but deliver decisions with a stronger whole of government mandate.

The 'coming together' of the two departments has presented some significant logistical challenges. A number of key strategies adopted to facilitate this integration have greatly assisted this process:

  • establishment of agreed operating protocols, administrative processes and decision-making structures at the outset
  • development of a business plan that sets out the roles and relationships of all agency stakeholders
  • creation of internal standardised operating protocols to establish seamless IT, financial, program administration, personnel and email systems
  • establishment of mechanisms for shared financial decision making, management and responsibility that take into account that each program is appropriated to a single agency.

The NRM Team exercise has highlighted the potential risk of losing some individual departmental priorities or desired outcomes through crossdepartmental integration. There is a need to beware of over-collaboration to the point of driving issues to the lowest common denominator for the sake of agreement. In joining up some activities such as program delivery but not others such as policy development, this initiative has revealed the value of retaining the strength of differences rather than trying to join up everything.

Institutionalising cultural change has been successful because of the commitment and support from all levels, particularly from ministers and secretaries. Having a common purpose has helped to override any cultural challenges between departments. Co-location of employees from the two agencies and the subsequent opportunity to interact everyday has been important for strengthening the identity and functionality of the NRM Team.

Perhaps the most profound learning from the NRM Team experience is that APS employees know the whole of government approach is working when their counterparts from the other agency are championing their agency's issues.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings

There was an evident need to co-deliver the two large NRM programs-the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP):

  • the core NRM objectives of DEH and DAFF- environmental protection and sustainable agriculture-fit logically together
  • both programs incorporate regional delivery of NRM and deal with similar stakeholders
  • the NHT is appropriated to DEH and the NAP is appropriated to DAFF, but both departments are involved in the program delivery.

Given the links between the NHT and the NAP, a joint team of more than 100 employees from the two departments was established in 2002 to co-deliver the programs.

DEH and DAFF employees work side by side within joint sections and are fully integrated within the team and equally split across the buildings of the two departments. DEH employees report to DAFF managers and vice versa.

A joint team model was chosen because:

  • the NRM objectives of the two departments were closely linked
  • there was a need to share control equally in regard to the two programs with no lead agency
  • the relationship between DEH and DAFF was such that a joint team could be considered.

The policy areas of the two departments remain separate to preserve the policy ownership and the beneficial tension that exists in NRM policy development. Policy areas are regularly included in meetings of NRM executive. Protocols for engagement between the policy and program areas are outlined in the NRM Business Plan.

Due to the political desire for more integrated natural resource management delivery and the willingness of senior employees in DEH and DAFF to collaborate, the creation of a joint team was possible. The level of integration could not have been as effective if run through a less integrated model-for example, through an interdepartmental committee process or a more hierarchical model.

The team has found that joint delivery does create complexities and administrative difficulties but is a worthwhile investment. Despite any complexities, an integrated approach to the delivery of programs is still more efficient than separate processes.

The team has a specific timeframe to deliver the programs-seven years. This helps to keep the project focused and does not provide an indefinite life for the initiative.

Joining the program areas of the departments but not the policy areas has maintained the benefits of separate policy development processes. Different values, objectives, constituencies and healthy policy tensions are retained. The risk in this approach is that policy development is separated from program delivery, and that national policies may not be strongly reflected in regional delivery activities. The development of protocols for engagement between policy and program areas is important.

2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings

Combining more than 100 employees from two departments created a number of cultural challenges, including:

  • the need for employees to consider themselves as part of a truly joined initiative, while at the same time maintaining links to their home departments
  • need for employees to consider and present themselves as Australian government employees rather than DEH or DAFF employees, especially when dealing with clients
  • sections made up of both DEH and DAFF employees, with DEH employees reporting to DAFF managers, and vice versa
  • two different personnel systems, certified agreements, performance reporting, pay scales etc. mean employees in the same section are operating under different conditions.

Cultural integration has been a specific focus in the development of the team. Leadership from both departments is committed to establishing good working relationships at all levels to make the joint approach work properly.

A number of initiatives have been implemented to create the cultural shift to a joint team:

  • the team is co-located, helping employees to integrate
  • team-building activities have been conducted- for example, cross-program/ agency training and information expo
  • processes have been established (such as approval of leave by employees from the other agency) to simplify management.

Institutionalising cultural change has been successful because of the commitment and support from all levels-particularly from ministers and secretaries. Having a common purpose has helped to override any cultural challenges.

The importance of effective personal relationships cannot be overstated. The team's efforts at building these is seen as a key factor in the success of the initiative.

Development of the team's culture was assisted by cultural change and cross-agency awareness training being included up-front as part of team induction.

Some members of the joint team view cultural differences and tensions as more of a perception than a reality, but agree that there is value in addressing the perception.

Despite efforts to integrate the team, there are still some cultural differences, especially in interpreting the original intentions of the two programs. Ongoing awareness training is provided to reinforce the core objectives of the team.

Working under different conditions is an element that employees have just had to accept and it has been less of an issue than was perceived.


Working in a whole of government team can be demanding for employees. There can be:

  • reduced ownership of issues
  • greater complexity and uncertainty
  • greater time pressures.

The team has actively recruited people who are suited to whole of government work. They have focused on employing people who:

  • have good communication skills
  • work well in teams
  • are able to deal with uncertainty and fluctuating situations
  • respond well to pressure.

Not everyone can work easily in a joint environment -there is a need for people who are flexible and accept diversity, and can cope with constant change, confusion and ambiguity.

The incentive for working in such an environment is that the task itself is attractive- providing career development and recognition.

3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings

Many of the IT systems of DEH and DAFF were incompatible at commencement of the joint team-for example, finance, personnel and email systems.

This created difficulties for program managers, who had to overcome the administrative problems of developing a joint team at the same time as delivering on their program responsibilities.

These systems have been gradually aligned. The process has been slow but many of the initial barriers have been overcome.

Secretaries of both departments are committed to development of an integrated financial management system.

Support from the secretaries of both departments has been vital in driving this alignment of systems. High-level support proved that all technical barriers can be overcome.

It is beneficial to establish uniform, seamless IT, finance, personnel and email systems up-front, and to factor in the costs of IT infrastructure support to the cost of the whole program. (This would not have been practically possible in this case, however, given the timing imperatives to create the joint team.)

2 Common knowledge management systems are needed to facilitate efficient program delivery. These systems were not in place at commencement of the team but have slowly been developed on an issue-by- issue basis. Program delivery would be easier if seamless data systems were established upfront to facilitate common knowledge management.
4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings

The two programs are delivered jointly but are appropriated to different departments-the NHT to DEH and the NAP to DAFF. This creates a situation where:

  • there is a need for reciprocal cross-agency delegations to authorise expenditure
  • the two programs are run through different financial accounting systems
  • there is a duplication of administrative processes-for example, reporting to the Senate.
The secretaries of both departments are committed to aligning systems, particularly the financial systems. Some alignment has occurred but there is still some double handling.

Cross-agency delegations have been established, and there are joint financial decision-making structures at departmental and ministerial levels.

Accounting for the team is done through a joint governance area, rather than through the separate departmental finance areas.

It is still necessary to have one department ultimately accountable, but both agencies need to be involved.

Cross-agency delegation is a simple process and does not have any legal impediments.

The key barrier to overcome in relation to delegations is a cultural one-resistance to delegating to employees from another department.

It would have been beneficial to align many of the systems at the outset of the team, rather than in an iterative process.

Provision of cross-agency responsibility has the additional benefit of increasing learning and aiding the development of a joint culture.

2 There is a need to balance the tension around the devolution of management decisions to regional communities and the requirement for budget accountability to the Australian Government. Various accreditation criteria, guidelines, and monitoring and evaluation requirements have been developed such that financial responsibility can be devolved to regional organisations within agreed and approved frameworks and investment strategies.

Ministers are ultimately responsible for financial decisions that are based on agreed approaches.

Establishment of guidelines and frameworks within which devolution of management and financial decisions can occur assists in finding the balance between the aim of empowering community stakeholders and maintaining accountability to the Australian Government.

5. Making connections outside the APS.
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 The community expects a consistent whole of government approach to natural resource management rather than dealing with a multiplicity of agencies. The development of the joint team has enabled the Australian Government to present one voice to stakeholders on natural resource management issues. Internal differences are resolved within the team and home departments before liaising with clients and the community.

A joined-up approach to natural resource management results in a unified, integrated voice of government to clients. Delivery of the NHT and NAP is simplified in a move towards more seamless government. Single processes and structures are set up between the Australian Government and community stakeholders, creating more direct lines of contact and interaction.

Employees need to understand the objectives of both DEH and DAFF in order to effectively represent the two organisations.

Importantly, the team has found that it is necessary to articulate and sell the rationale for the whole of government approach to all players and stakeholders. This increases understanding of the intentions, desired outcomes and potential benefits of the approach, and thus improves the likelihood of it being embraced and adopted by all relevant stakeholders.

2 The joint team needs to meet the challenge of delivering programs at a regional and community level.

A community-based approach is used to develop, implement and manage both the NHT and NAP at the regional level. Decision making is devolved to regional groups who establish their own targets and priorities. These are set within frameworks agreed through multilateral and bilateral mechanisms.

Much of the initial NAP and NHT funding has been directed towards building the capacity of regions to develop and deliver integrated regional natural resource management plans.

A network of facilitators and coordinators is also being established to assist in delivering the programs and providing a link between the Australian Government and regional communities.

The joint team has found that when setting up processes with a large community focus it is important to consider the impact on the community (e.g. consulting multiple times).

Trying to impose a communitybased approach when the community is not ready for it also has costs for government. Significant time and resources need to be dedicated to building relationships to ensure that communities are willing and able to engage to the level required.



Interviews were conducted with a range of employees from both the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Australian Greenhouse Office


The Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) has responsibility for coordinating the Australian Government's whole of government response to Australia's international obligations and national policy objectives on greenhouse and climate change. Climate change is an issue of global significance and the AGO is the world's first government agency dedicated to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The AGO was established in April 1998 as part of the government's response to the Kyoto protocol negotiations (an international treaty designed to limit global greenhouse gas emissions) and growing public interest in the threat of climate change. It is a symbol of the Australian Government's commitment to the greenhouse issue and provides surety of delivery of the Prime Minister's 1997 package, Safeguarding the Future: Australia's Response to Climate Change.

The AGO resides within the Environment portfolio, but has to reflect the interests of all interested parties. With its whole of government mandate, it adopts an integrated, balanced approach and facilitates both economic and environmental benefits for Australia in responding to greenhouse challenges.

It consults with government and non-government stakeholders to ensure that Australia's national interests are promoted, that jobs and industry are protected, and that Australia plays its part in the global effort needed to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The AGO was initially established for two years and, in March 2000, its mandate was formalised when it became an executive agency under the Public Service Act 1999.

The corporate governance arrangements of the AGO have undergone significant change:

  • from its establishment in April 1998 to October 2001, the AGO was accountable to the Ministerial Council on Greenhouse. This council comprised four permanent ministers and, depending on the agenda, included a further three ministers
  • from November 2001 to December 2002, the AGO became accountable to a single minister, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
  • in January 2003, the AGO became formally responsible to both the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources.

Key players

Australian Government agencies, including:

  • Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Australian Greenhouse Office
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Department of Education, Science and Training
  • Department of Finance and Administration
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Department of the Environment and Heritage
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Transport and Regional Services

State and many local government agencies
Business and industry, including:

  • Australian Aluminium Council
  • Australian Industry Greenhouse Network
  • Australian Industry Group
  • Business Council of Australia
  • Environment Business Australia
  • Minerals Council of Australia

Non-government organisations, including:

  • Australian Conservation Foundation
  • Greenpeace
  • National Environment Consultative Forum

Overview of learnings

The creation of a dedicated whole of government structure for greenhouse has facilitated the development of a centre of excellence on greenhouse issues. Australian government expertise is now focused in one organisation rather than being spread across the public service-allowing knowledge to be built in a systematic way and facilitating the development of a powerful resource for the Australian Government. The development of the AGO has addressed the historically disorganised, sometimes conflicting, efforts across the many Australian government agencies to deliver consistent whole of government advice and program delivery on behalf of the Australian Government.

As a dedicated greenhouse agency, the AGO provides a centralised forum for progressing greenhouse issues by:

  • freeing up other Australian government agencies from much of the interagency administrative burden, thereby enabling them to concentrate on the issues
  • keeping negotiations moving and ensuring equality at meetings
  • providing a forum to allow Australian government agencies to participate equally and deal with issues in an open manner
  • providing a single point of access, with a comprehensive and coherent position on greenhouse issues, for stakeholders external to the Australian Government.

The effectiveness of the AGO in delivering on its mandate may be attributed to the following:

  1. Getting its corporate governance structure right: The AGO's governance structure has undergone significant change over its five years of operation. The current structure-in which the AGO reports to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources-was developed in response to the need to project the right balance between environmental and economic concerns. This move fundamentally addresses the perception of balance in its operations, as much as it does the reality.
  2. Understanding the capacities of its stakeholders and responding appropriately: For example, environmental non-government organisations are in a much better position to engage on climate change than the general community. The AGO has therefore tailored its consultation processes to the capacity of its stakeholders. The AGO has adopted a 'no surprises' platform, ensuring that policy is developed in a transparent manner and stakeholders are kept regularly informed.
  3. Establishing high-level support for developing policy: For example, the Secretaries Group on Greenhouse is responsible for overseeing the development of the Climate Change Forward Strategy, providing impetus to the process and removing any blockages that arise. High-level support ensures ownership of issues within all Australian government departments and can overcome extant tensions across Australian government agencies.
  4. Recruiting the right people with specific attributes for whole of government work and nurturing a culture of collaboration and shared outcomes. This aspect is paramount and supersedes any emphasis on structural overlay.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings

There was a need for a structural whole of government approach to greenhouse because:

  • the Australian Government was receiving disparate, often conflicting, advice from different departments
  • greenhouse was emerging as a key policy issue
  • there was a need to deliver the Prime Minister's 1997 package, Safeguarding the Future: Australia's Response to Climate Change.

The AGO was established in 1998 to provide this whole of government mechanism, initially for a two-year period, and was located in the Environment portfolio. Employees were seconded from other agencies that were dealing with greenhouse at the time.

In March 2000, the AGO became an executive agency. It remains within the Environment portfolio.

The development of the AGO provided a means of integrating the different aspects of the Australian Government's work on greenhouse. A consistent view is now presented, and the creation of a greenhouse team has enabled the development of a centre of excellence in understanding greenhouse issues.

The AGO not only operates in a whole of government way, but it also facilitates greater involvement by other departments in greenhouse issues. It does this by:

  • undertaking much of the administrative work
  • keeping negotiations moving
  • dealing with issues openly.

There is, however, a perception that institutionalising a whole of government approach is not necessarily the best option. Creation of a structure around an issue can lead to the development of a culture that may not reflect a whole of government view. This is carefully managed within the AGO to ensure that other agencies maintain ownership of issues and rigorous consultation is maintained.

Operating within the Environment portfolio has created the perception in some quarters that the AGO plays too much of an advocacy role for environmental issues at the expense of economic ones.

It has been suggested that the AGO may be better located within a central agency more generally seen as whole of government-such as Prime Minister and Cabinet.

2 The AGO needed an appropriate ministerial oversight/corporate governance model. There was interest from multiple ministers, and the governance structure needed to reflect the whole of government mandate of the agency.

The AGO has worked under three governance models. These are:

1. Ministerial council model (Apr 98-Oct 01) where the AGO was accountable to a council made up of the ministers for:

  • the Environment and Heritage (Chair)
  • Industry, Science and Resources
  • Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Finance and Administration.

Also coopted to the Council, depending on the agenda, were the ministers for:

  • Transport and Regional Services
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Forestry and Conservation.

This approach manifested the whole of government orientation of the AGO, but was administratively cumbersome. Furthermore, internally the AGO didn't always appear to have its own identity, and stakeholders found it difficult to identify the role and position of the organisation.

2. Single minister model (Nov 01-Dec 02) where the AGO was accountable to a single minister-the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. This model was efficient in terms of decision making. However, there was a perception, in some portfolios and amongst stakeholders, that the model could cause the AGO to place undue emphasis on environmental factors, at the expense of economic factors.

3. Joint minister model (from Jan 03) where the AGO is formally responsible to both the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources. While this has placed an additional administrative burden on the AGO, it is helping the organisation to operate, and to be perceived to operate, in more of a whole of government manner. This model balances the tensions between stakeholder interest and expectations and effective Australian government decision making.

Perhaps the key lesson from the evolution of the AGO's corporate governance is that there is a need to balance the administrative difficulties of a reporting structure with the need to be perceived to operate in a whole of government manner. The single minister model, while administratively sensible, clearly created problems in terms of stakeholder perception. The current model of dual ministerial accountability appears to strike the appropriate balance.

There is no perfect governance model for any situation and one size does not fit all. However, establishing the appropriate structures early on is a key step to successfully operating in a whole of government manner.

3 The AGO is required to develop complex, broad-ranging greenhouse and climate change policies in a whole of government manner (e.g. the Climate Change Forward Strategy).

In order to facilitate the development of these complex policies, the AGO is involved in two main streams of policy development:

1. Australian government process reporting through interdepartmental committees (IDCs), a Secretaries Group on Sustainable Environment Committee

2. a combined Australian government and state process reporting through IDCs, the High Level Group on Greenhouse, and the Council of Australian Governments.

A number of different consultation phases, with a range of different stakeholders, are also providing input into these processes.

High-level support is a key element in maintaining momentum in policy development. For example, support from secretaries through the Secretaries Group on Greenhouse has been vital in removing blockages and keeping processes on track.

The Secretaries Group is run through a rotating chair process. The Secretary for the Environment and Heritage and the Secretary for Industry, Tourism and Resources share responsibility for chairing the group. This balance between the Environment and Industry portfolios is seen as beneficial to the overall policy development process because equal emphasis is seen to be placed on environmental and economic factors.

Through the large number of IDCs that are used by the AGO- it has become clear that it is vital to clearly define roles and ensure that agencies provide the appropriate level of representation at IDCs.

2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings

There were initial cultural difficulties at conception of the AGO. These arose because:

  • employees seconded to the AGO remained formally attached to their home agencies
  • employees also often remained attached to the greenhouse programs that they brought with them from their home agencies
  • employees were working under different certified agreements
  • there was no certainty about the life of the AGO (it was established initially for a two-year period).
There was a conscious and determined effort to develop a cultural identity for the AGO. This was greatly facilitated when the organisation became an executive agency in March 2000.

Most people interviewed for this case study identified a strong organisational culture as one of the key elements in successful whole of government work. The initial cultural difficulties experienced by the AGO were a limiting factor and one that had to be overcome in order for the organisation to move forward effectively.

Establishment of the AGO as an executive agency removed some of the blockages in efforts to develop a strong cultural identity. Certainty was provided to employees about the ongoing nature of the organisation and all employees became subject to the same working conditions.

Leadership, focused on delivering whole of government outcomes, was also identified as a key element in the successful operation of the AGO. Guidance from the top sets the tone for the operational nature of the organisation.

2 There is a perception among some stakeholders that the development of the AGO has led to the creation of another cultural 'silo'-bringing with it new challenges to operating in a whole of government way. There is an ongoing effort to remain engaged with all other agencies and incorporate the views of all stakeholders as appropriate.

Institutionalising whole of government approaches- such as through the creation of the AGO-can lead to the perception from some stakeholders that ownership of the issues is relinquished to the new agency.

Relationships with other agencies and organisations must be maintained to ensure effective whole of government operation.

3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 With two similar policy development processes occurring simultaneously-there is a need for appropriate information management The AGO ensures separate documentation is maintained for both processes. Information management processes need to be identified and established early on. It is important to take into account security and information access issues.
4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 There were some initial problems for secretaries with accountability under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 because the AGO had not yet been established as an executive agency. In March 2000, the AGO gained executive agency status. Structures need to be established that enable clear lines of accountability.

Throughout the history of the AGO, the differing accountability models that it has been subject to have impacted differently on the effectiveness of policy development and program delivery.

The ministerial governance models were adapted over time-in part to enable the effective operation of the AGO. If accountability mechanisms are too complex, such as the original ministerial council model, the effectiveness of an organisation can be curtailed. For this reason it is vital to establish the appropriate accountability structures.
3 There is a need for joint decision making between the Department of the Environment and Heritage and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, but the AGO's budget is allocated within the Environment portfolio. The dual ministerial governance model was established to ensure the appropriate balance between environmental and economic concerns. The AGO's accountability to two ministers ensures that joint decision making occurs. High-level accountability mechanisms have a cascading impact throughout the agency.
5. Making connections outside the APS
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Prior to the creation of the AGO, disparate and often conflicting messages were being delivered to the Australian Government and stakeholders on greenhouse issues. The AGO was created as the Australian Government's lead agency on greenhouse issues. Consistent advice is now presented to the Australian Government, and most stakeholders view dealings with the AGO as much more effective than previous consultations with multiple government departments. This reflects the importance of developing a consistent internal approach to an issue before consulting with stakeholders.

The AGO has to meet the challenges of consulting internally within the Australian Government to produce a whole of government view. These challenges include:

  • the need to balance strong stakeholder views
  • the fact that whole of government work is not the core interest for many Australian government agencies
  • in the early days of the AGO, negative feedback from stakeholders on the effectiveness and rigour of consultation processes.

A culture to consult rigorously has been developed within the AGO. This was seen as a key factor in the success of the agency.

Responsibilities between the AGO and other agencies are now clearly defined-clarifying expectations and facilitating improved communication.

High-level support for policy development processes (e.g. through the Secretaries Group on Greenhouse that currently oversees the development of the Climate Change Forward Strategy) has provided impetus to consultation processes.

More regular and personal follow-up with agencies/ stakeholders tasked with providing input was valuable to overcoming blockages. This requires more effort but leads to better results.

Rigorous consulting to achieve whole of government views leads to time pressures (i.e. consulting with multiple agencies, multiple layers of sign-off), but is necessary to ensure that policy development does not stall as it goes up the line.

The success of the development of a whole of government position depends very much on the perspective of the particular agency involved. If an agency perceives its particular view has been represented, it is more likely to consider that a successful whole of government view has been developed.

3 The evident need to have effective consultation with the states. A consistent Australian government view is presented to the states and a range of both formal and informal mechanisms exist to facilitate consultation with state governments.

The development of a lead Australian government agency on greenhouse is seen as beneficial by the states because they are presented with a consistent position on issues.

It is considered that consultations at the program level are much less complicated than at the policy level. This reflects to an extent the differences in policy direction between the states and the Australian Government.


The need to develop greenhouse and climate change strategies that incorporate the views of:

  • the community
  • industry
  • non-government organisations (NGOs).
The AGO ensures that these stakeholders are involved in the development of major national greenhouse policies. Formal mechanisms have been developed to ensure that the range of disparate views are incorporated and presented to the Australian Government.

The AGO has found that effective consultation requires a strategic approach. The timing and extent of consultation must be determined for each stakeholder group.

Of particular importance for defining these steps is the capacity of particular stakeholders to engage on greenhouse issues. For example, environmental NGOs have a history of engagement on greenhouse issues that the wider community does not.

It is therefore more practical to consult with the NGOs at an earlier stage in the process when issues are more fluid because of their greater capacity to provide input into the process.

Common to all stakeholders is the need for no surprises. The process must be open and transparent-allowing ownership of issues.



Interviews were conducted to provide a diversity of views about the AGO- from its establishment to its operation. Interviews were conducted with senior and junior employees from the Australian Greenhouse Office, the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, and the Australian Government Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, and a number of external stakeholders.


Clarkson, D 2003, 'Fulfilling dual obligations to stakeholders and ministers through appropriate corporate governance frameworks', presentation to Corporate Governance in the Public Sector Conference (unpublished).

Smith, the Hon. Warwick L, LLB 2002, 'Independent Review of the Australian Greenhouse Office'.

Australians Working Together


In September 1999 the Minister for Family and Community Services announced that welfare reform was to be a major reform priority for the Howard government. A high-level reference group was formed to have direct input into the development of new policy. Reference group members were drawn from the community sector, business, academia and government. The group was chaired by Mr Patrick McClure, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mission Australia.

The government's welfare reform policy proposals were developed by an interdepartmental taskforce which was chaired and supported by a secretariat based in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The final package of measures was announced as Australians Working Together (AWT) in the May 2001 Budget. The package focused on helping people to get jobs or become more actively engaged in the community through a balance of targeted assistance, incentives and mutual obligation requirements. A wide range of measures was to be implemented through the following departments and agencies:

  • Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS)
  • Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR)
  • Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)- now Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS)
  • Centrelink.

Policy and service delivery complexities meant that governance and coordination of the AWT package was necessarily multi-layered. Peak community organisations, academia and the private sector were included in consultative mechanisms used to develop the measures, as well as key government agencies. Key stakeholders included: the Welfare Reform Reference Group (which included the Deputy Secretary of FaCS); the Welfare Reform Consultative Forum (which included two Australian government ministers and selected non-government stakeholders); the FaCS Departmental Steering Committee (which included FaCS Deputy Secretary, executive directors and program branch heads) and the Centrelink AWT Implementation Reference Group (which included peak community and business organisations).

A number of other consultative and supporting reference group processes covered specific interests.

This case study reviews whole of government issues involved in work carried out from Stage 1 beginning in late September 2002 to mid-2003.

Overview of learnings

AWT built strategically on other countries' experiences in welfare reform (e.g. the UK New Deal program; reform of income support programs in the US, Sweden and the Netherlands) to address policy and social priorities important for Australia.

AWT was a complex policy and program development and service delivery exercise involving a wide range of external stakeholders. All had high expectations about the level of influence they would be able to exert over the final form of the package. It was important to manage these expectations carefully, share information and provide feedback over an extended period of time.

External stakeholders, such as the Welfare Reform Consultative Forum members, were crucial in shaping the balance in the measures announced in the Budget. They provided valuable advice on how measures could best be developed and also played a vital role in considering elements of the package before they were finalised.

Role clarity of all government agencies and organisations involved was essential at the policy, program and delivery levels, especially when people were working together for the first time or in a new way. This highlighted the need to be explicit about roles/responsibilities rather than assuming people knew and understood not only their own roles but the roles of other participants.

Submissions for funding can be complex when more than one agency is involved. It is important to get expert assistance-for example, from specialists in the Department of Finance and Administration (Finance) to ensure all issues are addressed.

Differences in agency cultures can threaten whole of government work. They need to be taken seriously and addressed quickly and decisively using a range of methods.

Lack of continuity of representation can be a significant issue in complex, long-running whole of government processes. The need to constantly bring new members up to speed can cause critical disruptions and delays and should be minimised.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 The role of the lead or central agency. The role of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) as a central coordinating agency was to bring together a whole of government approach to the policy development process. Ongoing responsibility was then managed by relevant policy agencies.

The role of the central or lead agency is an important one: it needs to be clearly articulated, regularly reviewed and altered, if necessary, as the initiative develops.

Effective and authoritative brokering of cross-portfolio strategies by a lead or central agency is critical to success. This should be complemented by a clear understanding of the responsibilities of other participating agencies.

2 The complex multi-agency nature of tasks involved required careful management of a wide range of issues.

Key agency-based whole of government management mechanisms included:

  • FaCS/Centrelink Steering Committee-(Deputy Secretary/Deputy CEO level): used to monitor milestones and for high-level policy resolution
  • DEWR/Centrelink Steering Committee-(National Manager/Assistant) Secretary levels: focus as above
  • DEWR/FaCS/Centrelink interdepartmental committee (Assistant Secretary and program manager levels): used for operational joint reporting
  • FaCS/Centrelink Working Party: cross-program and crossmeasure dependencies
  • AWT Evaluation Steering Committee: FaCS/DEWR coordinating group, involving PM&C, Treasury, Finance, DEST, ATSIC and Centrelink to support evaluation processes.

A project the size and complexity of AWT benefited from an integrated rather than a silo-based approach.

Communication and relationship management need regular attention and effort.

Multiple levels of managers needed to be actively engaged and managed to assist in the coordination process.

3 Continuity of representation. New members caused delays as familiarisation was required.

Agree on continuity of representation at the outset.

Put in place agreed procedures when new members attend meetings.

4 Level of representation. Differences in seniority of representation can cause a lack of clarity around roles, responsibilities and authority.

Level of representation should not be the key focus, but the capacity of the representative to participate constructively in meetings.

Consider introducing mechanisms for feedback on representation at meetings so issues can be resolved quickly.

5 Numbers of attendees at meetings. Bilateral discussions were held to break work into more manageable pieces. Working groups were used to get faster results. Consider carefully the size of teams-larger teams can be unwieldy and unfocused. Working groups can ensure a core of the right people are at the table-others can be brought in as needed.
6 Clarity from the outset about agency roles and responsibilities and aims and objectives of the taskforce.

A memorandum of understanding was used to define these in some instances, although this was not always observed.

Where confusion around roles and responsibilities continued, PM&C was asked to resolve any issues.

Early and open discussion with all agencies is essential in achieving a document that clearly sets out the responsibilities, aims and objectives of the taskforce. This should include explicit exploration of agencies' different agendas and expectations.

The role of the 'lead' agency in taskforce type structures is especially important to debate, clarify and agree the final make-up of responsibilities.

Consider the value of including all agencies in the initial role setting meeting, even if they may only be required at a later stage of the project-this can help avoid misunderstandings down the track.

2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Issues created by co-location of Taskforce Secretariat members from different agencies in a single office at PM&C.

Co-location had advantages and disadvantages. It offered the advantage of having a team working in close proximity able to produce outcomes quickly, together with good access to highlevel decision makers.

However, it also meant that employees were less closely connected with their home agencies. It also tended to isolate them from colleagues with responsibility for implementing new policy/programs.

Co-location can work better with small teams than with larger teams.

A concerted focus on team building may be needed.

Consider allowing teams made up of members of different agencies to remain in their home agencies rather than locating them together.

Use regular (but not too frequent) meetings and other approaches to build links.

2 Managing people on taskforces with diverse views and approaches derived from different organisational cultures. Preparedness to participate in open and frank discussions about the difference in culture between agencies.

Acknowledge, explore and address cultural differences openly at the outset. Consider the use of a professional facilitator or similar, if appropriate.

People with flexible, multi-dimensional skills are required on taskforces-those who can understand and manage complex issues and also distil a common goal without losing sight of broader objectives.

Provide training and development around working in a non-standard environment such as a whole of government team.

Direction from the top is needed to ensure there is a basis for a common understanding.

3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Secure communication between agencies was hindered by different levels of security for email and fax. A variety of communication methods were employed.

Ensure useability of high level communication security requirements. Have work-arounds in place, if possible.

Ensure communication and record keeping protocols are understood and agreed.

4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Strong governance arrangements across FaCS, DEWR and Centrelink were essential to ensure policy was delivered effectively.

Processes were established to align with the broader business partnership agreements in place between client departments and Centrelink. These included:

  • with FaCS, a business assurance framework for implementation, setting out key deliverables and sign-off points
  • with DEWR, a relationship framework providing the context within which a business requirement statement was developed setting out process and system design requirements and sign-off points.

Establishing roles and responsibilities for each participant, and how these complement one another was essential.

Formal project management can be a constructive part of quality assurance and risk management processes.

The number and structure of committee processes need to be streamlined and kept under review.

2 A strong outcomes focus was embedded in the strategy: evaluation of effectiveness was an integral part of AWT right from the start.

A whole of government approach was taken in designing the AWT Evaluation Strategy:

  • Arange of methodologies, including a mix of qualitative and quantitative data sources, was identified.
  • Evaluation methods included case studies, qualitative research, longitudinal 'before and after' analysis, net impact studies etc.
Early and joint development of evaluation strategies is essential and constructive in whole of government projects.
3 Complexity of preparing joint funding submissions and attributing costs and savings to the appropriate agency. The Department of Finance and Administration (Finance) was consulted and provided useful advice.

Expert assistance from specialists, such as in Finance, can help ensure relevant issues are covered off.

Check funding models for consistency of approach.

Agencies need to be open to cross-portfolio funding arrangements.

5. Making connections outside the APS
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Complex nature of engagement with the community, key stakeholders and eventual 'end users' of new policy.

Approaches to consultation included:

  • 360 written public submissions were received-an internet-based feedback questionnaire was then used for all who had provided submissions
  • focus groups were conducted with income support recipients
  • focus groups were conducted with representatives from the community sector, employer and business peak bodies, academia and government
  • bilateral meetings were held with peak bodies
  • participants attended conferences and seminars.
Consultation about new policy proposals can be challenging but is essential to 'getting it right'. A wide range of consultative processes can be used to shape overall policy design and processes.
2 Bringing trusted stakeholders inside the confidentiality of policy development and decision making can greatly assist complex or sensitive policy development processes. Ministers took a specific decision to bring the Welfare Reform Consultative Forum inside its confidential decision-making processes. The forum added particular value to the policy development process by being able to comment from a stakeholder point of view on detailed proposals as they were developed and also on the strategic balance of the package. If there is limited time or the issue is too sensitive for a full consultation process on detailed policy development, seek guidance from ministers on whether key stakeholders can be brought inside policy development processes that would normally be confidential.



  • John Wadeson, General Manager, New Business Solutions
  • Carolyn Hogg, General Manager, Service Integration Shop
  • Katrina Edwards, General Manager, Strategic and Business Planning
  • Michelle Gunasekera, National Manager, Parenting and Working Age Reform
  • Marcia Williams, National Manager, Community Sector Liaison and Business Relationships
  • Mark Wellington, National Manager, Start-up
Department of Family and Community Services
  • Serena Wilson, Executive Director, Welfare Reform
  • Bruce Smith, Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery & Assurance
Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
  • Bruce Whittingham, Branch Manager, Policy Development Branch
  • Malcolm Cook, Director, Welfare to Work Section
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Simon Cotterell, Senior Adviser, Work and Family Taskforce
Department of Education, Science and Training
  • Mylinh Hardham, Branch Manager, Analysis and Equity Branch.

Council of Australian Governments whole of government Indigenous trials


This case study provides an overview of the work being undertaken to implement the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decisions of November 2000 and April 2002, through which all Australian governments made a commitment to trial working together to improve the social and economic wellbeing of Indigenous people and communities. Governments agreed, in partnership with Indigenous communities in up to ten regions, to provide more flexible programs and services based on priorities agreed with communities. Evaluation of the trials would be premature at this stage, but this case study aims to describe the approaches and mechanisms which have been developed so far.

The key objectives in the COAG trial sites are to:

  • tailor government action to identified community needs and aspirations
  • coordinate government programs and services where this will improve service delivery outcomes
  • encourage innovative approaches
  • cut through blockages and red tape to resolve issues quickly
  • negotiate agreed project outcomes, benchmarks and responsibilities with the relevant people in Indigenous communities
  • work with Indigenous communities to build the capacity of people in those communities to negotiate as genuine partners with government
  • build the capacity of government employees to work in new ways with Indigenous communities.

It is anticipated that models will emerge from these trials that will have broad application.

Since April 2002, seven trial sites have been announced across Australia. The sites are Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands (South Australia), Cape York (Queensland), Murdi Paaki (New South Wales), Shepparton (Victoria), the East Kimberley region in Western Australia, the northern region of Tasmania and Wadeye (pronounced Wod-air) in the Northern Territory. An announcement on the ACT is expected soon. In each of these sites an Australian government secretary and their agency have taken the lead and carry primary responsibility for the Australian Government's response in that area, with other agencies operating as partners. The agency head in the lead agency has a particular role as 'champion'.


To even begin working in this new way, governments and Indigenous communities needed to develop a shared understanding of what the trials are about and what new roles stakeholders can and should play. Different relationships needed to be established. Much of the work to date has been about 'getting to the starting line'. Progress towards making the more visible improvements to the issues concerning Indigenous people, such as economic development, education and family strengthening, is expected to come over the next months and years. Similarly, learning that can inform practice in other places will also be harvested.

By its very nature, this project has involved extensive interaction and cooperation with state and territory governments, with Indigenous communities and with a variety of organisations. A variety of consultative and other mechanisms has been developed.

This report concentrates on explaining the structures developed by the Australian Public Service (APS) to support this large and complex whole of government project. The principal structures developed to support the Australian Government's response are as follows.


The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs represents the Prime Minister and is responsible for this COAG initiative. A group of ministers with key responsibilities meets to consider these issues.

Secretaries' Group on Indigenous Issues

For this initiative, a strategy has been put in place that gives day-to-day accountability at the Australian government level for progress in each trial site to an individual departmental secretary (or sponsor), whose agency will act as a lead agent within a trial site(s). The secretaries are members of the Secretaries' Group on Indigenous Issues (the Secretaries' Group), chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, which meets once a month to oversee progress. They are supported by the Indigenous Communities Coordination Taskforce (ICCT) and their own departments.

The Chief Executive Officer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS) is a member of the Secretaries' Group and ATSIS plays a vital role in guiding and supporting activity in the trial sites.

Indigenous Communities Coordination Taskforce

The ICCT is responsible to the Secretaries' Group for leading coordination across Australian government agencies and with state and territory governments, and for monitoring Australian government performance, including feedback to and from Indigenous communities under the whole of government initiative. Key areas of responsibility include:

  • achieve agreement on trial sites with governments and communities
  • assist lead agencies to establish their role
  • develop appropriate monitoring, evaluation and other operating frameworks necessary for implementation of the whole of government trials
  • clearly define emerging roles and responsibilities of lead agencies
  • agree with secretaries on operational arrangements for the implementation of whole of government trials
  • develop an education and training framework for line staff in agencies
  • build on existing profiles for both monitoring and building baseline data for evaluation
  • develop and implement a simple project tracking, monitoring and progress measurement system to:
    • provide accurate and comprehensive whole of government data on trial site projects and monitor and analyse these projects using a crossgovernment approach
    • document how agreement was reached on priorities with state and territory governments and communities and the lessons learned in that process
    • identify innovative and successful approaches and communicate them across other regions
    • provide feedback to other departments and agencies about the implications of new approaches for Indigenous-specific or mainstream programs (e.g. if one trial site identifies a helpful innovation in use of the Community Development Employment Program).

Lead agencies

The Australian Government's lead agencies are at the forefront of change in

APS approaches to the COAG Indigenous Trial. Secretaries have accepted key roles as champions for their regions and are the main drivers of change at the Australian government level. The activity of lead agencies has developed over the past 12 months, and includes:

  • tailoring government action to identified community needs and aspirations
  • coordinating government programs and services where this will improve service delivery outcomes and, where necessary, extending flexibilities in program guidelines to accommodate whole of government initiatives
  • encouraging effective partnership arrangements across agencies and governments and innovative approaches traversing new territory
  • breaking down silos and cutting through blockages and red tape to resolve issues quickly and avoid fragmentation
  • working with Indigenous communities to build the capacity of people in those communities to negotiate as genuine partners with government
  • negotiating agreed outcomes, benchmarks for measuring progress and management responsibilities for achieving those outcomes with the relevant people in Indigenous communities
  • building the capacity of government employees to be able to meet the challenges of working in this new way with Indigenous communities and to understand how to deliver on whole of government approaches and outcomes (inclusion of whole of government outcomes in performance appraisal and assessment for relevant employees)
  • identifying and clarifying relevant cross-portfolio accountabilities consistent with outcomes specified in the individual agency Portfolio Budget Statement
  • effecting cultural change at all levels.

Some examples of progress to date

Improving relationships

All lead agencies now have employees working with the trial site communities. They are supported by the lead agency and the ICCT.

To get things done, the people in the sites need to develop effective relationships with community people and with a wide range of officials. Sustained progress depends on the quality of these relationships.

Changing the way we work

With resources and accountability:

  • the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, ATSIS and the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) made a single, tripartite agreement to fund the creation of secretariat support positions for each of the Community Working Parties in Murdi Paaki.
  • A single contract with the community for government agencies is being used in Wadeye to limit the administrative burden on the community.

By supporting Indigenous leaders:

  • Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership is funded by DEST and Education Queensland and by an in-kind contribution from Griffith University.

By holistic approaches to development:

  • Government agencies (Australian and state) business and traditional owners have supported the development of the Weipa Multi Purpose Facility which provides accommodation for 32 secondary school students, alongside a post-school training facility linked to the local employment market (Weipa and Comalco).
  • In support of the Western Australian COAG site, the Minister for Justice and Customs has approved funding of $50000 from the National Crime Prevention Program to assist communities in the region hold a series of bush meetings on justice issues.

Challenges ahead

Maintaining momentum

The trials have highlighted the kind of work that needs to be done. Efforts to simplify the administrative burden on communities and to re-skill public servants are still at an early stage. The development of governance and of leaders to support new structures in Indigenous communities is beginning. While an evaluation is planned at two and five years, it is anticipated that focused effort will be needed to cement gains.

Embedding the drivers of change

To be successful, the COAG Indigenous Trials need to effect long-term cultural change within the APS. Leadership throughout the APS is critical to embedding these changes and to ensuring that working in a 'whole of government' way becomes the norm. Changing the way the APS works with state and territory governments, Indigenous communities and people, and a range of other stakeholders may require a new approach. The trials are meant to demonstrate what is working and what is not. Actively looking for lessons to be learnt will be an important driver of change.

Engaging with the corporate and non-government sectors

Government is not solely able to provide the resources and skills necessary for a sustainable future. Business and philanthropic partners are sometimes better placed and skilled to work closely at the community level.

Consultations are under way to develop a framework to strategically engage other sectors with Indigenous communities. This has been met with enthusiasm by the corporate and philanthropic sectors.

There is also the issue of how to build capacity in communities to deal with governance, dispute resolution and counselling and the time required for community development processes to bear fruit.

Communities at each trial site are at different stages and outcomes will vary significantly over the next five years. Some communities, for example, had already done considerable work regarding financial and alcohol management and welfare reform before the Trial process began, and work has also continued. The Wadeye community has undertaken a lot of work over recent years to develop their community governance arrangements. South Australia and Western Australia are at a much earlier stage of the process. NSW and Victorian sites will take a wider focus due to the more diffused and varied nature of the communities.

Goodna Service Integration Project


The Goodna Service Integration Project (SIP) was developed to test how community and government and non-government agencies can work together to improve community wellbeing. The development of a transferable model of human service integration for other regions of Queensland was a key goal.

The community of Goodna is situated between the outer boundaries of Brisbane and the regional centre of Ipswich and has a population of 9000. It has long recognised problems stemming from significant socioeconomic disadvantage, including a high rate of unemployment, low household ownership and a significant incidence of child abuse and domestic violence.

As a state government-funded service, initially aimed at addressing a local crisis, Goodna SIP focused on enhancing the capacity of government agencies to develop integrated responses to community needs through the development of collaborative relationships between state, Australian government and local government agencies active in delivering services in Goodna. The project was a partnership between the Queensland Government, Ipswich City Council and the people of Goodna. Australian government involvement was at the regional level through membership of the Service Integration Project Team.

Funded from September 2000 to March 2003, Goodna SIP's broad aim was to reform and improve government processes and structures according to local need. Changes were informed by research and aimed at ensuring that delivery of human services were better planned and integrated, and improved overall community wellbeing. Specific areas for review included the ways in which government approached planning, funding, implementation and evaluation strategies to reduce crime, improve school retention rates, improve community health, as well as a variety of other issues identified as important by the Goodna community.

Key players

Key players were:

  • the Goodna community (e.g. Pacific Islander community, Goodna State School P&C, Goodna Special School)
  • non-government agencies (e.g. Ipswich Women's Centre against Domestic Violence, The Smith Family, St Vincent de Paul's Community Services, the Queensland Government)
  • local government
  • University of Queensland
  • the Australian Government at a regional level through Centrelink and Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS)
  • The Queensland government.

Overview of learnings

The project identified the following learnings:

  • how to work collaboratively with different organisations (state government, universities, local government in conjunction with local neighbourhoods)
  • that relationships will make or break a project-relationships are built on frequent communication and excellent interpersonal skills signing up to a shared protocol) can motivate people more effectively
  • that personal commitment (e.g. expressed through each team member than departmental drivers
  • that developing a story that others could engage with, as people changed within organisations, is important-followers can come in and pick up on
  • that putting emphasis on sustainability and the development of sustainable the story processes from day one is important
  • that government does not 'drive' is important-government must engage the community sector and enable them to set their priorities and then link them with government priorities.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 There were not only changes needed to the overall program of service delivery, but also to the way front-line staff carried out their tasks. Policy and funding frameworks were reviewed. Outcomes were developed which reflected primary aims of each participating agency and were aligned with the state government performance measurement framework and priority needs of the Goodna community. It is important to align outcomes to reflect both agency and community requirements-for example, increased local job opportunities. Some issues were very hard to address-for example, transport.
2 When SIP started, government program and policy units that were centrally located did not have a regional or neighbourhood focus. Also, multiple agencies at the neighbourhood level were poorly coordinated. The needs and aspirations of the Goodna community became the priorities of government and service agencies. Building relationships and promoting learning and evaluation achieved this. Centrally located agencies need to focus their efforts at a neighbourhood level to be successful in a community like Goodna.
3 Focus was needed on how to ensure the project could continue to operate and achieve outcomes after the initial SIP project officer coordinating position was withdrawn (i.e. maintain sustainability). A detailed transition strategy was developed between agencies and community members. Transition strategies take a lot of time and careful planning and need to be thought about right from the beginning of a community project.
2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Strong leadership was needed for this project as the issues facing Goodna had been a problem for a long time and attempts at addressing these problems had been unsuccessful. Ipswich City Council and University of Queensland took the leadership role and championed the project through a dedicated project coordinator and researcher/educator position. Using carefully selected champions with agreed roles can be important in building momentum to achieve the right outcomes.
2 There was a need for a dedicated project coordinator for this complex community development project requiring service integration. Project and research officers took the project forward and facilitated community and agency interaction and commitment to solving problems. There needs to be dedicated resources-for example, a paid coordinator to facilitate integration and collaboration.
3 The problems in the Goodna community have been long and enduring and government attempts through individual agency interventions have not been successful. The community was cynical about previous government attempts at service integration. The SIP demonstrated it would be different from previous attempts by delivering early wins. SIP also ran ongoing consultation forums to ensure open and honest communication. This included the development of long-term community forums. It is important to establish integrity up-front and quickly to get community on board and establish credibility through some quick wins.
4 When the project started, neither the staff of agencies nor key community members necessarily knew how to go about integrative and collaborative ways of working. The project team leaders were proactive in fostering a learning culture such as consultation and communication skills, trust, community development skills and challenging traditional problem solving. It is essential to challenge traditional ways of solving problems and be prepared to unlearn old ways and learn new skills.
5 Formal and informal learning by agency staff and key community members was seen as a critical part of the project and was encouraged. Formal learning programs (short and long courses) in collaborative leadership were developed by University of Queensland. Students were from government and community with special support for members of disadvantaged communities. Having a formal course as part of a whole of government project helps ensure ongoing systemic change through application of learnings.
6 Staff from different organisational structures (e.g. different levels of government and nongovernment organisations) needed to develop skills and capacity to fully collaborate. Position descriptions and performance agreements were rewritten to place more emphasis on acquiring, using and assessing new skills such as communication and consensus building. A need for new or unusual skills sets should be identified at the outset of a project and emphasis placed on ensuring that people with these skills are selected for appropriate positions or that training is provided.
3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 There was a need to create information infrastructure tools-for example, a community website. Community consultation identified a desire for a website. It was built, and featured key information about community and government providers servicing Goodna and a listing of local businesses in the area. Creation of tools that communities want is important in work with community agencies and builds local people's skills.
2 Regular communication about project progress with all stakeholders was regarded as vital to their continued support for the project, particularly as small projects developed under the SIP umbrella. A name/address database was established to enable regular communication and was updated quarterly through mail-outs. Communication mechanisms such as newsletters or emails to stakeholders can provide valuable gains in involvement and provide mechanisms for input, regardless of location.
3 The sensitivity of some issues being addressed in the project, such as child abuse, meant that there was reluctance and uncertainty about sharing some information. An agreed process was developed which meant explicit permission was obtained from families for this information to be shared with other agreed parties. Issues that have been dismissed as 'too hard' can be addressed through new solutions such as asking those affected for their own solutions and ideas.
4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Tensions were created by different agency approaches to, and requirements for, measuring inputs and evaluating spending. A measurement and modelling strategy was established to design indicators to assess community wellbeing. This tool has state and national significance in terms of its capacity to better allocate resources in areas of critical community service need at a neighbourhood or regional level. Benchmarking in human services is an area of critical importance. This work will provide key learnings in this area. The tool could be used widely.
2 Resources needed to be coordinated and obtained from different agencies to support project officer positions at a local level. State government provided funding for positions, while other agencies, local government and the University of Queensland provided resources such as staffing and administrative services. Resourcing arrangements should be explicitly examined and agreed at outset of the project, especially where they cross jurisdictions.
3 Each SIP-initiated project needed to work more creatively with existing resources and in accordance with SIP goals and state government priorities. To get the best results from available resources, this project looked at the full complement of programs across all agencies before allocating extra resources. The challenge is to use existing agency resources much more effectively and efficiently. Look across programs and be creative.
4 Funding was not provided for an overall external evaluation of Goodna SIP. However, the outcomes of each program within the SIP were evaluated through clear performance indicators. It has been stated that the performance of the network structure used for collaboration between agencies could not be judged by traditional evaluation methods. This structure focused on community meetings and could only be evaluated qualitatively.

The SIP used continuous assessment and learning for each of the components of the SIP.

Surveys were undertaken to obtain baseline data for the possibility of a longitudinal study of the Goodna community.

Innovative approaches to evaluation can help in demonstrating project success.

Community meetings provided an ongoing informal evaluation to reality check that SIP was addressing the major issues of concern.

It is also important to have formal evaluation to measure outcomes, particularly for government funding.

5 Government departments had little flexibility to pool resources/funding to address problems at local level. Resources were allocated on the basis of negotiated outcomes across agencies. Results can still be achieved without formal sharing or pooling of agency resources.
6 There were differing reporting and accountability requirements for different organisation types. At key points, such as clearance of the final report, there was confusion over who had responsibility. Try to streamline, align or agree on accountability and reporting arrangements at the commencement of the project.
5. Making connections outside the APS
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 A community development process was required to address the needs of the Goodna community. Key regional agencies prioritised community development processes-that is, working with community representatives and helping Goodna residents build their own skills and leadership. It is essential to not only develop but sustain relationships, including effective community consultation/engagement processes.
2 People and agencies had to work together for the first time. Formation of network structures, including a community forum (involving all stakeholders) which was a mechanism for issues to be fully discussed, prioritised and acted on. It is essential to build the capacity of communities to own and address their own issues over the immediate and longer term.
3 With no new resources to distribute, SIP's interest had to be in better service integration, not new services. One-stop shop and central coordinating agency approaches were rejected. Instead, existing agency resources were used in a more strategic and integrated way. Focus on integrated services at the level of delivery rather than develop a single system.

Major takeaway messages

'The community at this late stage is acknowledging that services in Goodna are improving significantly, because they know what is happening.'

'Yes, absolutely whole of government works and is absolutely essential to dealing with complex problems. But it takes time, resources, learning, skill development, relationships and therefore please, please, please only do it when systems are in crisis, don't just do it all the time because you will burn people out.'

'We are doing what we know we should in the end, it's not that we know this is straightforward, people know they need to collaborate, they want to collaborate, but they have to get past all the constraints. You do what you need to facilitate this.'



Goodna Service Integration Project: Doing what we know we should -Final Report.

Goodna Service Integration Project: Learning stories.

Goodna Service Integration Project: Project overview.


  • Catherine Boorman, former SIP project manager.
  • Dr Geoff Woolcock, former SIP research project manager (University of Queensland).
  • Father Brian Fitzpatrick, community leader and chair/member of several Goodna committees related to the project.



iconsult was to have been a secure electronic information exchange system to enable Australian government departments to share information about community consultations.

Committees, groups and associations in the community frequently engage with the government about a whole range of issues and projects. Consultations can span a range of Australian government departments, as well as different levels of government.

iconsult was a whole of government project to develop a new information and communication technology (ICT) tool to respond to community concerns about over-consultation. iconsult had the potential to inform participating agencies of previous Australian government activity in specific locations and the outcome of those consultations.

The system was developed as a prototype by the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) in 2001 and ran as a pilot for eight months.

The iconsult case study covers the iconsult pilot project and includes information about its progress, implementation-and eventual lack of success. Participation across government was required in the pilot stage to ensure it was properly developed and used. However, full commitment to its use was not obtained and users were not obliged to take it up, test it, or further its application. Its potential to benefit communities was therefore not realised. iconsult was developed under the More Accessible Government (MAG) initiative which was announced in June 2000 to improve community access to Australian government funding programs, information and services, and to streamline grants administration. MAG was a whole of government initiative and involved 15 Australian government agencies. All agencies had the option of participating in the pilot of iconsult.

The MAG initiative was supported by the MAG Working Group and two interdepartmental committees (IDCs). These structures carried out the work of the initiative. DOTARS provided and funded a team of five as secretariat support. Membership of the IDCs was not always consistent, and time was wasted through duplication of subject discussion and obtaining commitment to the project.

The iconsult system was simple to use. Users needed only to log on and enter information into a calendar about forthcoming consultation. Once the consultation had taken place, users could update iconsult with a summary, which could be filed on paper or electronically. There was no expectation that users would undertake any extra work. However, this was cited often as a reason for not using iconsult. Revision of work processes may have been required, but this aspect was not addressed in the implementation.

A great deal of support and enthusiasm was generated for iconsult by agency representatives. However, despite the simplicity and benefits offered by iconsult, its full potential was not realised. The iconsult site has now been decommissioned.

The greatest contributing factor to the lack of success of iconsult was its lack of use. Reasons for not using iconsult included 'not enough time' and 'lack of guidance on what information is allowed to be shared between agencies'.

Initial funding for the development, implementation and maintenance of iconsult was provided by DOTARS. Without an ongoing funding base, and without contributions from participating departments, the MAG secretariat found it difficult to obtain appropriate funding for the project.

Key players

Agencies represented on the MAG Working Group were:

  • Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
  • Department of Finance and Administration
  • Department of Family and Community Services
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
  • Attorney-General's Department
  • Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
  • Department of Treasury
  • Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
  • Department of Health and Ageing
  • Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • Department of Education, Science and Training
  • Department of Environment and Heritage
  • Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

All departments had the opportunity to contribute to the iconsult project; however, interest tended to be from departments more likely to participate in community consultations. Departments which signed up to trial iconsult were:

  • Transport and Regional Services
  • Health and Ageing
  • Attorney-General's
  • Environment and Heritage
  • Family and Community Services
  • Education, Science and Training
  • Veterans' Affairs

Both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations expressed an interest in joining the trial but this did not eventuate.

Overview of learnings

The objectives of whole of government activities need to be clearly understood and agreed by all participants, including a sense of the big picture. Lack of understanding of a big picture objective of whole of government work can result in a lack of commitment to the project.

It is important that agencies taking part in whole of government activities understand and agree to the level of commitment expected. Commitment should be reflected through the work of representatives on interdepartmental committees and relevant stakeholders taking part in the activity.

If necessary, participants need to be given explicit permission to work on whole of government activities within a culture that accepts whole of government as a legitimate way of working rather than an 'add-on' outside core business.

It is important that whole of government projects be properly scoped, supported if necessary by a business plan, and have sufficient dedicated funding to allow different stages to be implemented appropriately.

The development of new technology in itself does not guarantee success. Attention needs to be paid to associated cultural issues that may block take-up of new technology. These issues can be addressed through the development of communication and change management strategies. A high-level mandate to use new technology can also add to the likelihood of success.

Agreement about what can be shared across government needs to be formalised.

Senior champions across agencies can assist in driving success.

There needs to be clear communication flows at all levels-while broad project management of iconsult was considered to be friendly and efficient, the structure of other groups working with the project at times appeared to hinder the flow of information.

Involvement at a senior level from the start of a project such as this can result in greater overall participation downstream.

A pilot phase can help evaluate the value and likelihood of new technology as an ongoing product.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Representation on the IDC responsible for the development of iconsult was not always consistent or reliable. Inconsistency in representation meant subject matter discussion was often duplicated and time was wasted. Members of IDCs were encouraged to attend and times of meetings were managed to increase participation.

Agencies need to understand and agree formally to the level of commitment required.

This commitment should also be understood by representatives and participants in IDCs.


Participation (and leadership) was often only with 3-4 agencies and thus not all departments were represented effectively.

Representatives often attended based on personal interest rather than departmental interest.

Without full representation, commitment was not ensured and information did not filter through to potential users-for example, after four months iconsult was unknown to employees in some state/territory/ regional offices. As a result focused demonstrations were held in Queensland and Northern Territory in December 2002. This did not result in an increase in take-up.

If the activity's objective is to affect all of government then whole of government representation is important.

It is important to include key stakeholders/players throughout a project-this can make or break ownership and success.

3 The IDC responsible for iconsult did not meet with the MAG Working Group, which had responsibility for decision making and sign-off of the different phases of the project and finances. Without communication between the two relevant IDCs information was provided separately to the MAG Working Group, resulting in duplication and wasted time. This did not help to progress timely completion of phases of the project. Where there is more than one IDC responsible for a whole of government activity it is important to keep appropriate communications channels open to avoid duplication and wasted time.
4 Selection of representatives for the IDCs was made at national level. Potential users were at state/territory/regional level and they were not represented on the IDCs. With representation at national level only, the state/territory/regional offices, potentially the biggest users of iconsult, had little input into the development and implementation of iconsult. Careful selection of representatives for IDCs should be made to ensure appropriate areas are represented.
5 There was a clear need for representatives on IDCs to advertise and encourage the use of iconsult within their agencies. Each representative chose an individual strategy. This was not successful.

IDC representatives tried to encourage use; however, most were not users of iconsult and possibly were unable to market it effectively. Responses to their strategies indicated that:

  • prospective users had not been canvassed properly
  • there was no unified strategy by agencies to incorporate it in their work processes
  • iconsult was presented as optional rather than a required activity of program management.

If full participation is required for the success of a whole of government activity and realisation of the full benefits, then a clear mandate needs to be given.

'Optional' participation is not an option.

A single agreed communication strategy developed in consultation with all participants can drive success.

6 The communication strategy developed for the implementation of iconsult did not have full agreement by all departmental representatives. Departments did not have ownership of the communication strategy and thus did not support it; the result was that certain implementation aspects of iconsult were not fully addressed by the agencies involved. Whole of government IDCs should ensure that representatives have full ownership of communication strategies for whole of government activities.
7 The key risk of the project-that iconsult would not be used-was not fully addressed during the implementation phase.

The representatives were made fully aware of the desired outcomes and potential of the system. The launch was attended by 59 senior employees from 17 Australian government agencies.

Implementation issues were not addressed due to:

  • limited resources for training and implementation
  • focus on national office
  • little information and training given to state and regional offices
  • lack of change management in incorporating a new ICT system.

Ensure the whole of government activity has full participation by the right people-people who can fully represent work areas that are affected by the whole of government activity. Involvement should be from initiation through to implementation to ensure full ownership, understanding and support for the activity.

Ensure appropriate resources are assigned to all phases of the activity.

2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Tension relating to commitment and ability of some agency representatives to respond to project requirements-this included a reluctance to work outside core business and issues around funding.

Participants working on the iconsult project were not able to contribute a great deal (outside committee meetings), which meant:

  • DOTARS carried the workload
  • DOTARS had carriage of decision making, development and implementation options without full participation from other agencies
  • smaller agencies were unable to participate
  • level of commitment was aligned with the level of influence that representatives had in their agencies.

Development of a collaborative culture with commitment to agreed roles can help drive success.

Employees need permission to contribute to whole of government activities outside their core business.

2 Representatives did not have sufficient influence in their agencies to mandate use or the full trialling of the iconsult system. Use of iconsult was deemed optional, meaning it could not be properly assessed for full implementation. Full commitment should be gained from participating agencies from the outset.
3 All potential users of iconsult were not consulted during its development and little was done to address potential blockers to its take-up.

By not addressing the blockers or issues during the project, work practice or information-sharing tensions were not evident early on.

This meant enthusiasm and rate of registration to use the system was not matched with actual use. It became obvious after four months into the pilot that there were tensions about using the system.

Strategies to address cultural issues should be developed-for example, a change management strategy and/or communication plan.
4 Difficulty in getting full support and cooperation for product implementation.

The MAG Working Group, developed mechanisms to encourage take up:

  • a letter to deputy secretaries
  • consortium representatives to contact program areas to encourage usage
  • MAG secretariat to provide focused training for Queensland and Northern Territory
  • prize for the person who entered the most information in iconsult in a given month.

However, these responses were not successful. People cited the following reasons for not using iconsult:

  • not enough time
  • too busy
  • too much of an overhead
  • unsure of what can be shared
  • information too confidential to share.

Rewards and incentives would encourage employees to respond to whole of government projects.

Address any leadership, culture and informationsharing issues as soon as they arise before they inhibit full commitment to the activity.

3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Although iconsult appeared easy to use with little training required and no compatibility issues- employees needed internet access and registration to gain access-it became impossible to assess its value because of low rates of participation and use. Agencies and employees shown iconsult agreed that it was an easy to use and potentially useful system; however, in responding to its lack of use the IDCs and MAG secretariat were unable to convince employees to use it enough to assess its capability and future use. A new technology tool in itself is not enough to guarantee success. Other issues need to be fully addressed-for example, cultural blockers to using a new tool.
2 Confidentiality, privacy and security were cited as issues with iconsult-there was concern about what could be shared across agencies. Various solutions were proposed to address these concerns-i.e. users were advised that privacy was not a concern as no personal information was to be kept in iconsult and if they had concerns they could note this. There is a need to have clear definitions and instructions about what can be shared.
3 New technology meant there was a need for new processes and possible change in work design. Options were given to assist with changing to new processes.

Agreed standards for information sharing should be developed across government with concepts that are easy to understand.

Scoping and planning for the implementation of a new whole of government system are necessary. Ideas need to be practical and pragmatic.

4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 As lead agency, DOTARS funded the development and ongoing maintenance of iconsult. There was no dedicated funding for either the MAG initiative or any of the products and services delivered under the initiative.

With no dedicated funding it was difficult to quarantine funds for the project.

There were no financial contributions from participating agencies; nor was any future funding secured to extend the life of iconsult.

Dedicated funding would support a whole of government approach.
2 Lack of formal framework/processes for allocation of funds resulted in uncertainty about ongoing resourcing and commitment to the project. DOTARS used internal processes to gain IT funding and staffing resources. There is a need for clear guidelines on the flexibility of the financial framework to enable whole of government initiatives to be taken up and implemented.
3 Cost of implementing iconsult was not fully addressed as funds were not adequate to cover all facets of the project. Funds were used mostly for development not consultation and implementation. Dedicated funding should be allocated for each stage of projects to ensure all requirements are addressed.
4 Insufficient planning and scoping of the project led to gaps in implementation issues (including differing expectations and working arrangements within each department). Potential users were not given the attention and training required (there was no funding for travel or training). This resulted in low or nil take-up by those agencies who had signed up to take part in the pilot.

Scoping of whole of government projects should include:

  • implementation issues and associated costs
  • addressing alignment of current business/work processes to whole of government activity
  • a business case (and cost-benefit analysis) to justify anticipated improvement
  • ownership at coal face
  • involvement of appropriate people.
5. Making connections outside the APS.
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 iconsult was developed in response to a message from communities that they were being over-consulted. The project did not involve engagement with clients or the community-it concerned developing an ICT tool for Australian government employees. However, in the long term the community would have benefited from iconsult. The benefits to the community were well understood by participating and non-participating agencies (at least at the national level). IDCs were enthusiastic and endeavoured to market the benefits of iconsult; however, the messages did not filter through to all the potential users of the system.

The objectives of whole of government activities need to be clearly understood by participants, including a sense of the big picture.

Participants need to be able to clearly see and understand what's in it for them, as well as for external stakeholders.



  • Barbara Middleton, Department of Family and Community Services
  • Renina Boyd, Department of Family and Community Services
  • Richard Eccles, Department of Health and Ageing
  • Anni Chilton, Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
  • Renée Crossley, Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Bruce Dymock, Department of Family and Community Services
  • Lois Sparkes, Department of Education, Science and Training.

National Illicit Drugs Strategy


The Australian Government's National Illicit Drugs Strategy (NIDS), Tough on Drugs, is a whole of government approach to reducing the supply of, and demand for, illicit drugs. It brings together law enforcement, health and education portfolios and the non-government sector in the pursuit of a government agenda.

NIDS was launched in 1997, with funding of $109 million, and is funded to continue until June 2007. A number of additional policy measures have since been approved, bringing total funding to approximately $1 billion. Funding has been provided to a range of Australian government agencies, highlighting the importance of a multi-pronged approach in tackling issues including supply, control, demand reduction and harm reduction.

As part of the government's ongoing National Drug Strategy, NIDS is being implemented in consultation with state and territory governments, the community sector and non-government organisations, including the peak non-government advisory body, the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD), which was established as part of the strategy by the Prime Minister.

To date NIDS has funded initiatives in the areas of:

  • treatment
  • prevention
  • education
  • diversion programs
  • training and skills development for frontline workers
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • research
  • measures to intercept drugs within Australia and at its borders.

Funding has been used to establish information systems to improve the way drug use and supply are measured, while law enforcement authorities have been assisted to analyse trends in supply control and demand, and harm reduction. Data systems have also been established or improved to draw together critical information about drug use, treatment agencies, user groups, arrest rates and prison populations so that trends can be identified and responses developed. State and territory governments have received project grants as part of NIDS and have also played an important role in developing and implementing policy which cuts across their own jurisdictions.

Key players

Australian government agencies

  • Department of Health and Ageing
  • Attorney-General's Department
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Customs Service
  • Department of Education, Science and Training
  • Department of Family and Community Services
  • Department of Finance and Administration
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

State and territory government agencies

  • State and territory health
  • Justice
  • Police
  • Attorneys-general departments.

Non-government sector

  • Australian National Council on Drugs
  • Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia
  • Representatives of other agencies and universities.

Overview of learnings

The Australian Government's efforts to address issues around illicit drugs clearly cut across many agency boundaries in both Australian government and state jurisdictions, as well as community organisations and sectors. Results to date indicate a range of learnings from the whole of government approach adopted.

At the outset of a whole of government project it is vital to:

  • develop a detailed, comprehensive strategic plan, which should include:
    • clearly delineated roles and responsibilities for all players-this helps to maintain relevance, momentum and 'buy-in'
    • agreed priorities for all players and key outcomes clearly identified
    • establishment of decision-making processes
    • agreed evaluation and review mechanisms for each element, taking into account the fact that different agencies will often have different requirements
  • take care in developing systems to share information-agencies have different capabilities and needs
  • have a lead agency structural model clearly identified and endorsed by all players, if it is used, so that it can play a valuable role as a central coordination and servicing point
  • allow time for relationships to grow, for trust to develop and for information to be shared.

Other learnings include:

  • ongoing high-level endorsement of the need for genuine cross-portfolio cooperation can assist in achieving required outcomes
  • resourcing issues need to be addressed comprehensively and carefully at the outset, taking into account agencies' different protocols
  • the need to take into account unknown and emerging issues and demands
  • recognition of individual and agency contributions to whole of government
  • rewards for individual/agency contributions to whole of government and requirements is especially important projects is important to build ongoing commitment projects are also an important way of maintaining momentum and engagement
  • for some non-government partners, government and its different tiers and portfolios can appear confusing
  • early and genuine consultation with the non-government players is vital in achieving their cooperation, contribution and commitment

Features of a good whole of government approach to engaging with the non-government sector include:

  • clearly established and identified structures and protocols working to remove or eliminate the barriers between portfolios and sectors, preferably under the direction of a single appointed authority or entity
  • good levels of contribution to the project by all stakeholders across sectors.

The project resulted in an improved relationships across and within portfolios, for example within the Attorney-General's portfolio significant links were established between the measures pursued by the Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs Service and the Australian Crime Commission.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Establishment and maintenance of a coordinating function.

High-level, multi-agency committees have been established to oversee implementation. Initially, a taskforce was established and auspiced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

More recently an interdepartmental committee (IDC) has been operating, auspiced by the Department of Health and Ageing.

The role of a central or lead agency is essential.

Information sharing between stakeholders facilitated through the development of protocols and clear communication channels.

2 The roles and responsibilities of each agency in the NIDS package has been clear. While roles of each agency in NIDS are quite clear, it has been necessary to bring agencies together throughout the process. It is easier to work in a whole of government project when the tasks for each agency are clear, focused and part of the standard business for that agency.
3 Cross-cutting issues that have no natural home within one agency are more challenging to implement. More recently issues that cut across the portfolios are being addressed, such as prevention, and each agency is identifying how it will respond. It becomes more difficult to work in a whole of government way when the issues to be addressed do not have a natural home. This can require agencies to look at their own culture and organisation, as well as innovation and working creatively between agencies.
4 A role needed to be found for a new key player-ANCD-within a longstanding IDC structure which had not previously accommodated a nongovernment partner. The IDC has invited the ANCD to join its discussions, particularly in the development and implementation of the last budget process. It can be particularly important to explicitly define the roles and responsibilities of NGOs.
5 Ongoing engagement by all agencies for the duration of the strategy. Agencies faced the challenge of continuing to engage with a whole of government initiative over a relatively long period of time.

Senior-level representation can assist in maintaining momentum, motivation and strategic direction setting.

Levels of engagement and commitment can also be assisted if those attending meetings are empowered to make decisions on behalf of their agencies.

6 IDCs are essential but are time-consuming, and the work for servicing them tends to fall to one agency. Considerable work has been undertaken to maintain effort on the whole of government activity, bringing agencies together, developing joint submissions, and coordinating policy responses.

The resourcing requirements to adequately support whole of government projects within agencies need to be recognised and supported.

Roles and responsibilities across boundaries need to be clarified and the benefits of working cooperatively should be made explicit.

2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Whole of government approaches within silo programs of funding.

The IDC provided an avenue to raise issues.

Ministers have been able to identify progress for activities within their own portfolio.

All agencies need to be able to identify their own role and benefit from engagement in whole of government activity.

The political significance of the drugs issue has acted as a key driver to maintain dialogue and cooperation between agencies.

2 Cultural differences between agencies and other stakeholders.

Australia is seen to have advanced inter-agency cooperation on drug issues in comparison with other countries and has received international recognition for this. This has been achieved through developing crossagency responses, since the 1980s, to activity across the spectrum of harm, supply and demand reduction.

Cultural differences have been explored and reduced over time as common language and understandings have developed.

Cultural differences between agencies and other stakeholders need to be recognised.

There is a need to nurture relationships and partnerships between agencies and other stakeholders in order to continue relevance and engagement.

3 Incentives to work with other agencies. The biggest incentives identified for a whole of government approach were that there was clear recognition of the additional value that could be achieved, highest-level support within the government and recognition that significant results had been attained.

High-level interest/ involvement including that of the Prime Minister and support from government is important to provide a mandate for action.

A clearly articulated and widely promulgated and positive outcome can assist in providing continuing incentive and motivation for complex strategies.

Incentives or rewards should be considered in recognition of the additional effort that whole of government processes can bring.

3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Lack of integrated, dedicated capacity to analyse information across agencies' different systems/platforms. Different agencies implementing NIDS established a number of different information systems. NIDS' achievement would have been easier if information systems could have been integrated from the start.
2 The development of data needs and trends. The IDC has served as the forum to identify information to be shared and the mechanism by which it has occurred.

Information needs, sharing protocols, accessibility and knowledge management should ideally be identified at the outset of a project.

In building a picture of successes from NIDS, information from different agencies was identified and analysed.

4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 The NIDS package clearly links activity to the relevant agency.

Reporting at an agency level has been easier as lines of responsibility have been clear from the outset.

The funds are accounted for and reported on at an agency level. Outcomes are reported on at both an agency level and also collectively.

There has always been certainty in who is doing what and what funds are available. This has overcome potential confusion in relation to funding allocations.
2 The development of joint agency funding submissions created some confusion at first. Close contact between agencies at an IDC level and involvement of senior level employees assisted.

Agencies approach whole of government funding processes with different understandings-these should be clarified as early as possible.

Level of seniority at interagency forum affects ability to resolve issues quickly.

3 Accountability has largely been managed at an agency level rather than as a whole of government package. Each agency has maintained accountability for funds at an agency level to the minister responsible.

Clear lines of accountability need to be determined at the outset both in terms of acquitting funds and identifying ministers responsible for each element of work.

If there is to be reporting of activity in a whole of government manner, agencies need to agree on the parameters at the outset.

4 Different agencies have had different expectations and different requirements about evaluating the outcomes of funding.

A range of evaluation mechanisms was adopted by different agencies.

Some results from the funding were evident quickly (e.g. from law enforcement agencies), while others will have a longer timeframe to show effect (e.g. health and education activities).

Evaluation mechanisms need to be determined at the outset of projects and evaluation activity needs to be allocated specific funding.

It is challenging to bring together a cumulative view on the effect/outcomes of the NIDS package as the range of activity is so diverse. Some of the activities achieve very quick results while the effects of other parts of the package, particularly those that work on prevention, will not emerge for some time.

Telling a more united story about the impact of a whole of government task is easier if there is early agreement in relation to joint reporting.

5. Making connections outside the APS
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Non-government involvement is a vital element of NIDS.

The ANCD has promoted extensive consultation with the community since the commencement of NIDS.

The ANCD has a strong role in the implementation of NIDS.

Its role has gradually expanded to include involvement in the development of budget submissions.

The close involvement of an NGO was initially challenging for many agencies.

It has led to stronger and more transparent decision-making processes and a more complete understanding among all parties of the issues different agencies are facing, how they are addressing them, and barriers that are encountered.

2 Consultation needs to be genuine. In the most recent stages of NIDS, the NGO sector was fully consulted from the earliest stages, and their proposals for action were considered at the highest level.

Consultation with the NGO sector needs to be undertaken in early stages.

Exposure to other sectors and discussion about respective roles, responsibilities and expectations at the commencement of a project would assist greater understanding.



E Harris, M Mise et al. 1995, Working Together: Intersectoral Action for Health, Australian Government Department of Human Services and Health.


  • Ms Lorraine Cormack, Department of Family and Community Services
  • Mr Craig Harris, Attorney-General's Department
  • Ms Jenny Hefford, Assistant Secretary, Drug Strategy Branch, Department of Health and Ageing
  • Ms Sue Kerr, NSW State Manager, Department of Health and Ageing
  • Mr Peter Jones, Australian Federal Police
  • Mr Mark Michell, Department of Family and Community Services
  • Mr Ross O'Donoghue, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health and Ageing
  • Mr John Perrin, Prime Minister's Office
  • Mr Robert Rushby, Australian Customs Service
  • Ms Margaret Sykes, Department of Education, Science and Training
  • Mr Noel Taloni, Director, Illicit Drugs Section, Drug Strategy Branch, Department of Health and Ageing
  • Mr Arthur Townsend, Assistant Secretary, Department of Education, Science and Technology
  • Mr Gino Vumaca, Executive Officer, Australian National Council on Drugs
  • Major Brian Watters, Chair, Australian National Council on Drugs
  • Ms Cheryl Wilson, Executive Officer, Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia

Response to Bali bombings


The Australian Government mounted a whole of government response to manage the crisis resulting from the terrorist attack on nightclubs in Bali on 12 October 2002.

The Prime Minister's instructions to senior officials were decisive: the government's response needed to be comprehensive and effective, and issues concerning resources could not be allowed to constrain the policy response- they could be addressed later. There was strong bipartisan support for the Australian Government's approach. Reflecting these decisive political instructions, the government established explicit and appropriate chains of command within the public sector in response to the bombings.

On 13 October the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) set up a crisis team and started coordinating a whole of government response. DFAT's response to Bali was similar to the way it had responded to previous overseas crises involving Australians, such as the Interlaken rafting tragedy and the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US. However, the effort was magnified by the close support and participation of the Australian Defence Force (which began emergency evacuations back to Australia of the critically injured) and the Australian Federal Police (which worked closely with Indonesian counterparts in taking forward the criminal investigation). The Bali crisis was, of course, also on a much larger scale and deeply affected the whole nation. Unlike previous overseas crises, there was an immediate set of domestic issues as victims started arriving back in Australia. State and territory health departments and airports, in particular, went into action on 13 October. By 16 October it was clear that the domestic (i.e. Australia-based) issues were of great consequence and complexity, and so the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) was asked by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to manage the domestic recovery through a whole of government taskforce. These two structures, the whole of government taskforces chaired by DFAT and FaCS, were robust and continued throughout the crisis recovery period.

In the initial few days after the bombings, DFAT's consular area dealt with 5000 phone calls from people concerned that a loved one might have been in Bali. More than 100 people were thought to be potential casualties. In the end, there were more than 80 Australian deaths and many more Australians injured. More were distressed or affected in some way.

This case study looks at the experience of the APS in implementing a whole of government response in the period immediately after the bombings and the following two months.

Key players

Australian government agencies

  • Australian Federal Police
  • Defence organisations
  • Department of Family and Community Services
  • Department of Finance and Administration
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Department of Health and Ageing
  • Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Centrelink
  • CrimTrac Agency
  • Emergency Management Australia
  • Health Insurance Commission
  • Intelligence agencies

State and territory agencies

  • All health departments
  • State and territory coroners
  • State police services
  • State and territory premiers/chief ministers departments
  • State and territory welfare departments
  • Fire and emergency services
  • Airport corporations
  • State and territory emergency management bodies


  • Australian Red Cross
  • St John Ambulance, Northern Territory
  • Kenyon International Emergency Services Australia
  • Protective Security Coordination Centre
  • Qantas
  • Sydney Airport Corporation Limited
  • Darwin International Airport
  • Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine
  • Victims, their families, on-site volunteers and the general public
  • Media

Overview of learnings

Clear leadership from the Prime Minister was central to the speed, sensitivity, flexibility and comprehensiveness of the whole of government response.

As a first step, roles of all players in a crisis recovery should be defined. A shared understanding of each player's role should also be reached.

Formal chains of command should be used for communication during a crisis and recovery period.

An overarching framework to coordinate government response across federal and state jurisdictions and between government and non-government bodies can be a good up-front investment.

A 'hub and spokes' model which establishes clusters of agencies to work side by side, rather than all agencies coming together through a single overarching interdepartmental process, can work well. In the case of Bali, representatives from DFAT and FaCS attended each other's taskforces to ensure an appropriate overlapping between the two clusters.

There are separate phases in a crisis-a response phase and a recovery phase. While they do overlap, they are also distinct.

The national CrimTrac DNA system was used to quickly and reliably identify human remains gathered from the site of the tragedy.

The Bali crisis resulted in the Department of Health and Ageing establishing the Health Incident Room to improve health coordination in national emergencies. Options are also being developed for a strengthened rapid response capability for future mass casualty and terrorism incidents involving Australians overseas.

Daily review of core issues such as public communication, financial support (and, in the case of Bali, return of effects of deceased victims to next-of-kin) can allow policy outcomes to be closely monitored and driven forward. It is also important for crisis managers to obtain a more strategic overview of the policy response. This can be done through daily meetings of key decision makers to canvass what might be the policy and media issues of the following day.

Families of victims need one point of contact for information. Early communication of information to affected families is important.

There is a need for agencies to adopt a common approach to the Privacy Act and to have a shared understanding of the way the Act applies against their operations during crisis. Differing interpretations of the Act may lead to inconsistent policy formulation and agency responses during the crisis.

More detailed and regular briefings to the media and general public on key elements of the government's response would have assisted more accurate media treatment and allayed family concerns in early days after the bombings.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Need for clarity in arrangements including identification of lead agency.

DFAT and FaCS were responsible for the coordination of domestic and international issues, which were pursued through two parallel processes.

Two 'hub and spokes' arrangements worked side by side rather than bringing all participants together through one overarching interdepartmental process.

DFAT and FaCS held daily (twice daily in the initial aftermath of the attacks) interagency taskforce meetings, which drew major stakeholders together to share information and coordinate policy responses.

A national response plan is being developed to respond to future mass casualty and terrorism incidents involving Australians overseas. It will provide a framework for coordination of crises which have both an international and a domestic element.

The 'hub and spokes' approach to crisis management provided a useful model. The use of 'hub and spokes' ensured that meetings remained focused and brief, and drew together the appropriate participants for a discussion on either international or domestic issues. This worked well for the crisis but the model could also be used for other complex, multidimensional situations.
2 Need to create strategies and implement policy to deal with the crisis, and to monitor policy outcomes.

A mechanism for key decision makers was created to canvass policy and media issues of the following day. This assisted in ensuring that decision making continued to strike an appropriate balance between the proactive and reactive and looked beyond the issues of the moment.

FaCS conducted daily meetings addressing 15 core issues, against which recent progress and forward planning were reported.

Important to make time to be strategic and rise above the problems of the moment. Coordinating whole of government policy making and implementation is integral in driving the dynamic towards the recovery phase following a crisis.
3 Integrating coronial systems and processes, particularly between jurisdictions, in regard to victims.

A spokesperson from one state was appointed to represent all coroners.

State coroners advocated a new federal coronial jurisdiction.

Importance of re-examining coronial arrangements to ensure they are appropriately responsive to international/ national disasters.
2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Knowledge and understanding of roles of all those involved and who was lead agency. Need for diverse range of agencies to work well together.

Participants worked together cohesively, regardless of differing departmental cultures and work practices.

The national response plan now being developed will provide a framework for coordination to:

  • clarify roles of agencies and non-government organisations
  • review links betweenAustralian government and state disaster plans
  • identify and rectify any gaps in interagency coordination.

The Community Services Ministers' Advisory Council has also been asked to review community support and recovery arrangements.

There is a need for a greater awareness of roles of agencies, especially to share resources and create networks.

Roles of each player must be clarified up-front.

Links with state-based emergency services and ongoing recovery services need to be clarified.

2 If communication channels are not clear, chains of command can become unclear and vital messages missed or duplicated. Existing chains of command were used well. In addition, the authority of the two taskforces was enforced through proper chains of command. Use formal chain of command communication in a crisis.
3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 DFAT emergency hotlines were overwhelmed in the initial stages. Existing contingency plan for crisis scenarios-using Centrelink call centres- quickly broadened to absorb unprecedented call volumes. Contingency plans need to be able to be broadened and reformulated quickly.
2 Managing information to ensure that accurate information was presented to the community.

Engage the media in regular briefings.

A central database of registration data of affected individuals was created.

Collection, collation and dissemination of key patient information and a central point for non-medical information.

Too much communication with the public and affected people is impossible!
3 Need for integrated approach for providing information to the media. Stand-alone, dedicated media unit and strategy was used. The importance of good media management cannot be overstated.
4 Sharing of information between agencies was complicated by the Privacy Act. Discussion with Privacy Commissioner to ensure that information was handled appropriately and carefully in a manner that facilitated the crisis management response. The need to share personal information amongst agencies was acknowledged. Need for agencies to adopt a common approach to the Privacy Act, to have a shared understanding of the way that the Act applies against their operations during crisis times. When this does not exist, different interpretations of the Act may lead to inconsistent policy formulation and agency responses during the crisis.
4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Need to offer financial support for unheard of circumstances for which there were no programs or parallels. Ex-gratia payment arrangements were used properly and well.

Prime ministerial direction was clear.

Direction is essential. Flexibility is also essential in a crisis.
2 While directions were clear, written authorisations were hard to achieve in a crisis environment in the timeframe desired by those affected. A commonsense approach was taken and supported by all agencies. It was appropriate and well documented. The ex-gratia payment guidelines could be enhanced to address the role of senior decision makers in such circumstances.
5. Making connections outside the APS
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Overcoming confusion for the families in trying to get information about victims and in dealing with the various agencies. Emergency hotline set up, internet site developed. DFAT consular called every family of a possible victim daily. Later, Centrelink looked after each family. Both approaches worked well. It is important to present one point of contact to victims and their families.
2 While agencies were able to advise families of contact details of other agencies, none was initially able to answer questions from a whole of government perspective. Questions and answers were developed and shared between agencies. Communication with families of the victims must be coordinated at an early stage of the crisis.
3 Confusion experienced by families in getting accurate information and the families' eventual need for counselling. As well as the hotline and internet site, FaCS established a newsletter that conveyed the government's key messages and ensured that the messages were attuned to the emotional and information needs of the victims' families. Need for the community to receive quick and accurate information. In the aftermath of a crisis, the community's need will be for information. Later this will change to a need for counselling and social support. It was important to carefully evaluate the needs of the community.

Even if newsletters are not always read, they can be an important way of assuring those affected that they are getting relevant up-to-date information and are not being kept in the dark. This is especially important in the early phase of a crisis.

6. Managing crises and their consequences
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 DFAT was clearly the lead agency for the Australian Government for the overseas aspects of the crisis and response. However, a lead agency for the domestic aspects was not identified until 16 October. Emergency Management Australia (EMA) was also not involved automatically and, because of this, the usual approach of engaging state and territory emergency management response agencies was not made immediately. In short, there is a need for protocols that link overseas and domestic issues.

The government established explicit and appropriate chains of command, giving DFAT and FaCS responsibility for coordinating whole of government activities for international and domestic issues respectively.

They adopted a 'hub and spokes' coordination arrangement that drew together key agencies and players to share information and coordinate policy responses. Within each hub and spoke there was a clear division and respect for the differing mandates of respective agencies.

EMA will develop a national action plan to link overseas and domestic issues.

It is critical to keep leadership roles clear. Chains of command need to be clear and must be used.
2 Need to quickly assess the nature of the situation and to mount an appropriate response. Deployed ADF teams to assess the incident, the damage, likely casualties, nature of injuries and potential treatment requirements, and the likely ongoing response requirements and capacity to respond locally. In a crisis agencies will pull out all stops to help each other respond quickly and well.
3 Need to deploy assistance rapidly in the immediate response period.

Rapid evacuation was an outstanding success. Rapid deployment to Bali of ADF and other Australian assets and people to evacuate the injured and to establish appropriate disaster victim identification processes.

Also deployed high-quality response from the private sector in providing services.

Focus first on stabilising the situation including evacuating the crisis location as fast as possible.
4 The need to repatriate to Australia large numbers of injured and deceased people. Need to expect the unexpected-for example, victims understated horrific injuries so they could return to Australia on a commercial flight, putting themselves and Qantas staff at risk. Contracted a company with longstanding experience in mass casualty incidents within 24 hours of the attacks to manage the repatriation of deceased Australians on behalf of the Australian Government. Qantas put on additional flights to repatriate hundreds of Australians who wanted to leave Bali immediately. Use strategic partnerships with non-government players in a creative fashion.



  • Lisa Paul, Deputy Secretary, Department of Education, Science and Training.
  • Ross Tysoe, Consul-General, Bali, DFAT.
  • Ian Kemish, First Assistant Secretary, Public Diplomacy, Consular and Passports Division, DFAT.
  • David Chaplin, Vice-consul, Bali, DFAT.
  • Bill Jackson, Director, Consular Operations, DFAT.
  • Tracy Reid, Executive Officer, Consular Information and Crisis Management Section, DFAT.
  • Janette Lynagh, Desk Officer, Consular Operations, DFAT.


Emergency Management Australia, 'Initial review of interagency coordination arrangements following the Bali bombing: Summary of Review Outcomes', MT Macedon, Victoria, 8 November 2002.

Emergency Management Australia, 'Review of interagency coordination arrangements following the Bali bombing; Summary of Review Outcomes', Darwin Northern Territory, 18 December 2002.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 'Bali: Key Lessons Learnt -Feedback from Key Agencies', 3 March 2003.

Sustainable Regions Program


The Sustainable Regions Program (SRP) is piloting a new, holistic approach to providing Australian government funding for regional Australia. Launched in August 2001, SRP focuses on community building and sustainable development rather than a simple 'apply for a grant' approach. It is about communities working together to invest wisely in the social, economic and environmental assets of their region for a sustainable future, in partnership with government.

Funding for the SRP totals about $100 million for the period from 2001-02 to 2005-06. Assistance under the SRP has been provided to the following prototype regions:

  • Far north-east New South Wales
  • Campbelltown-Camden, New South Wales
  • Gippsland, Victoria
  • Atherton Tablelands, Queensland
  • Wide Bay Burnett, Queensland
  • Kimberley, Western Australia
  • Playford-Salisbury, South Australia
  • North-west and west coast Tasmania.

Through SRP the Australian Government supports these regions by:

  • providing a stimulus for activity through funding
  • taking a whole of government approach and assisting with brokering deals and joint funding with other government agencies and the private sector
  • considering large-scale issues for a region
  • supporting regions to analyse and test the implications of possible future directions.

Local advisory committees comprising business, community and/or local government representatives have been given the flexibility and autonomy to recommend, direct to the minister, projects for consideration. Final funding decisions rest with the minister.

One of the main aims of SRP is to give designated regions autonomy and significant control over the process and outcomes for their region. The SRP emphasises the 'one size does not fit all' principle and gives regions flexibility in:

  • the process used for calling for expressions of interest and projects
  • how to determine regional priorities
  • how to undertake planning and analysis to identify priorities and future development options.

Key players

Key players are:

  • Minister for Transport and Regional Services
  • Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • local advisory committees
  • government agencies at all levels responsible for managing various issues including infrastructure, community services and the environment
  • communities of the eight regions including the private sector and educational institutions.

The SRP is administered by the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS). DOTARS promotes partnerships between all spheres of government, the private sector, local advisory committees and other organisations in the regions to achieve the goals of the SRP. At the Australian government level all relevant departments and agencies are consulted and invited to be partners in implementing projects. When priorities are identified in a designated region, DOTARS brings together key players at the federal sphere and determines ways of coordinating a whole of government approach.

Overview of learnings

The SRP offers significant opportunity to create partnerships with the private sector, between levels of government and within the Australian Government. There are, however, considerable resource and time implications of working within and between these layers: program rules and individual portfolio priorities do not necessarily blend well to deliver the maximum benefits possible for communities. While the case study predominantly reflects the views of one agency, the learnings are still relevant.

At this stage, the SRP has had significantly more success forging partnerships with state agencies and local government than with other Australian government agencies.

Successful whole of government activity included:

  • a clear articulation of the key strategic directions and priorities by locally based committees-in the Kimberley, for example, the objectives for the region, affirmed by the state government, are predominantly in harmony with those articulated by the Sustainable Regions Advisory Committee
  • leadership and support from the top (political and bureaucratic)
  • willingness of key players to work together
  • a shared vision by agencies to focus on problems and achieve real outcomes for people living in the regions
  • shared performance indicators and ways of monitoring progress, and flexible funding arrangements
  • pooling resources.

The Regional Deputy Secretaries Group has provided opportunities to develop an Australian government whole of government response to regional Australia. This is not a substitute for mechanisms used between departments to progress a range of issues, but can be a door opener where conventional mechanisms may not be productive.

While there has been a lot of goodwill surrounding whole of government, there are practical impediments to more responsiveness. One impediment is the way departments define outcomes in their Portfolio Budget Statements (PBSs), which can limit the development of innovative solutions to problems. The PBS concentrates on the specific responsibilities of an agency rather than providing an opportunity to include wider objectives that would cover broader government aims. If this broader approach were taken, it could enhance the success of a whole of government approach.

APS employees located in the SRP regions have enormous potential to help deliver a more whole of government approach to regional Australia. Their on-the-ground support is invaluable in providing advice and making linkages.

National offices too have a significant role to play. Regional employees can be hamstrung if national offices do not supply adequate support. National offices need to pursue the high-order strategic policy frameworks so that regional employees have a clear mandate about how to do business.

There is an important role for lead agencies in developing critical partnerships at all stages-from information sharing and scoping of responses to identification of synergies and agents for delivery.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Developing the SRP as part of the new policy proposal process. It allowed efficient liaison within agencies and saved money-most likely better than co-locating people from different agencies. Development of whole of government program policy does not require co-location of APS employees.

Some Australian government agencies' programs were not always flexible in how they considered a SRP application against guidelines-they had difficulty meshing their national or issue-specific objectives with SRP regional objectives.

State agencies could be more willing to embrace the concept of joint funding.

Formation of Sustainable Regions Australian Government Whole of Government Network/Deputy Secretaries Group tried to get better coordination across portfolios.

More flexible program delivery by other agencies would enable better integration.

Flexibility in how SRP funds can be used has been a valuable lever in obtaining funding from other government and private sector sources.

There is a need for very senior leadership and commitment.

3 Some Australian government agencies' policy areas were committed to the process in the development of the SRP, but program areas less so during the implementation. (as above)

There is potential for continuity of whole of government teamwork to be broken between policy development and implementation.

There is a need for very senior leadership and commitment.

4 The SRP seen by other agencies to be a DOTARS-focused initiative within whole of government.

The Sustainable Regions Australian Government Whole of Government Network was established to provide a forum for Australian government agencies to engage in whole of government activity in the eight prototype sustainable regions.

The Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. John Anderson, wrote to his ministerial colleagues in April 2002 seeking support for a collaborative approach towards the SRP.

The network first met in July 2002 and has provided DOTARS with a platform for dialogue and a database of contacts across the APS. Matters that influence the broader policy agenda of the SRP are now considered also by the Regional Deputy Secretaries Group.

Whole of government groups provide a more formal way of looking at some of the practical impediments to whole of government, like funding cycles and closing dates on programs.

Whole of government groups can also operate at a high-order/strategic level and provide leadership on regional whole of government issues. This would include ways agencies could integrate their programs to better address regional priorities.

The SRP's initial promotion could have benefited from greater emphasis on the involvement of other agencies and more detailed communication with agencies of its approach.

Groups such as the Sustainable Regions Australian Government Network and the Regional Deputy Secretaries Group are not a substitute for mechanisms between departments to progress a whole range of issues, but the groups can be door openers where conventional mechanisms may not be productive.

2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings

Greater understanding by some Australian government agencies about opportunities whole of government activity can provide for addressing complex issues and achieving mutual outcomes.

The need for APS employees to think laterally and actively engage in whole of government work.

Better understanding of how whole of government work fits with everyday activity.

Regional Deputy Secretaries Group tries to achieve high-level commitment.

The need to have senior executive engagement.

Conduct seminars to explore/explain role of whole of government including international experience.

Whole of government applies equally to all levels of the APS.

Whole of government should be seen as a way of doing business.

3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Whole of government requests for input into project assessment did not always elicit all relevant information. Agencies contacted individually to clarify requirements and determine response. Importance of bilateral relationships, as well as whole of government networks.
2 Communities faced information overload from all levels of government. Community advisory committees (and executive officers) were able to provide a targeted whole of government perspective and information to people interested in programs. It was important that a whole of government activity be undertaken within the region rather than only from Canberra or a capital city. Area consultative committees would benefit from additional resources and expertise.
4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Some agencies were highly cooperative in development of the Stronger Regions Statement, which included the possibility of new budget funds. Six-monthly reports to government provide an opportunity to report to ministers on SRP whole of government activities. There is value in agencies working closely in the budgetary process to explore approaches to whole of government funding.
2 Whole of government work is resource-intensive and needs to be recognised. Departmental funds were not increased. Recognition that whole of government work is resource-intensive.

Differences between internal and whole of government accountabilities:

  • The structure of Portfolio Budget Statements does not enable delivery of whole of government outcomes.
  • Other Australian government agencies have not acted on the potential for joint funding.
Formation of Sustainable Regions Australian Government Whole of Government Network/Deputy Secretaries Group was used to achieve a true whole of government approach. Identifying broad common outcomes for agencies involved in whole of government work could assist both funding and reporting. Stakeholders could also be involved in identifying common outcomes and priorities.
5. Managing connections outside the APS
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Roles of local advisory committees and executive officers in engaging with the local community were vital.

Local advisory committees and their communities were excited by the opportunity and felt empowered by having a greater role in the decision-making process.

Accessibility of on-ground executive officer improved level of community engagement.

Endorsement of local advisory committees' participation in decisionmaking process.

Value of on-ground executive officer supporting local advisory committees.

2 Ability of local advisory committees to bring local knowledge to the table was important. Local advisory committees were able to test and validate regional priorities. DOTARS was able to target issues and projects with more accuracy with assistance of local advisory committees. Local advisory committee knowledge of local issues and identities was invaluable.
3 Local advisory committees took more time to make funding recommendations to the minister than anticipated.

DOTARS built constructive relationships and provided regular advice and support to advisory committees concerning strategic planning, and assisted with assessment of projects.

Funding was provided to assist with planning and testing future development options.

Funds were re-phased to redirect funding to later years.

Local advisory committees need to be given time to adjust to their role to enable them to make good recommendations on behalf of the regional community.

The department's role in obtaining advice from other Australian government agencies is vital.

Taking a grass-roots approach (allowing a community to set the pace) takes time.



  • Mr Des Harris, Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Ms Wendi Key, Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Ms Sema Varova, Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Ms Vicki Dickman, Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Mr Bill Dejong, Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Ms Ruth Povall, Executive Officer, Far North East NSW Sustainable Regions Advisory Committee

The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games


The Olympic Games have been held every four years since 1896 and are now the largest, and arguably the most important, sporting event in the world. The choice of Sydney as the site for the 2000 Olympic Games gave Australia a unique opportunity to reinforce its international standing as a leading sporting nation, promote its image as a free and cosmopolitan society, and develop new trade, business and tourism links with the world.

The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games were planned and run through a cooperative arrangement between federal, state and local governments, Australian business, and sporting communities, and featured a formal and explicit relationship between the Organising Committee, the NSW Government and the Australian Government.

The Games embraced multiple objectives-sporting, social and economic-and many (if not all) of them had a whole of government flavour. The numerous objectives articulated by various organisations are encapsulated by statements such as: 'the best Games ever' and 'to derive maximum benefit for Australia'. These umbrella objectives reflect the whole of community support for the Games that gave unity of purpose to overall planning and delivery.

While the Games were primarily a NSW event, they could not have been staged without the support of some 30 Australian government departments and agencies. Assistance covered a wide range of areas including national security, protective security, communications, training in sports doping controls, drug research, quarantine, tourism and trade promotion, border controls and weather forecasting. On a full cost basis, the Australian Government contributed over $1.1 billion in support of the Games. Approximately $494 million of this was additional funding allocated through the Australian government budget.

This case study focuses on the whole of government challenges of the Games for the Australian Government.

Key players

Australian government agencies, including:

  • Attorney-General's Department (including the Protective Security Coordination Centre)
  • Austrade
  • Australian Communications Authority
  • Australian Customs Service
  • Australian Defence Force
  • Australian Protective Service
  • Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • Australian Sports Commission
  • Australian Sports Drug Agency
  • Department of Defence
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
  • Department of Industry, Science and Tourism
  • Sydney Airports Corporation Limited

New South Wales government agencies, including:

  • Department of the Premier and Cabinet
  • Department of State and Regional Development
  • Department of Transport
  • Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games
  • Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee
  • Olympic Roads and Transport Authority
  • NSW Police Service
  • Olympic Coordination Authority

Olympic organisations

  • Australian Olympic Committee
  • International Olympic Committee
  • National Olympic Committees
  • Australian Paralympic Committee
  • International Paralympic Committee

Other stakeholders

  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Athletes
  • Department of Transport and Regional Services
  • Media
  • Viewing public
  • Airlines
  • Private sector partners

Overview of learnings

From the Australian Government's point of view, the early involvement of ministers in setting policy parameters, central coordination and regular reporting to government were a critical part of the success of the Sydney 2000 Games.

Other key lessons are:

  • Stakeholders (i.e. all the people with a direct interest in the Games) have a wide range of interests and business reasons for being involved in a project. It is important to allocate time and energy to understanding stakeholder business drivers to achieve maximum cooperation and joint outcomes. There is a good chance that the reluctance of a stakeholder to engage with a project has a business rationale at its roots.
  • Do not underestimate the importance of good personal relationships with stakeholders. Differences in organisational culture, as well as handling urgent issues, can be resolved much more readily if people, including senior officials, are able to talk to each other informally.
  • It is important to start planning as early as possible, and not lose sight of longer-term priorities.
  • With a project as complex as the Olympic Games, the early decision to lock in central agency coordination was extremely beneficial. Importantly, the central coordination did not interfere with line agencies doing their work.
  • While the Olympics was a whole of government exercise from the beginning to the end, most Australian government agencies managed their Olympics responsibilities within normal business processes. Using existing processes that have stood the test of time as much as possible, proved to be most beneficial, even when dealing with new stakeholders or circumstances.
  • The Olympic Games created numerous opportunities to leverage off the goodwill associated with a high degree of agreement about overall objectives. This can be seen in the development of security arrangements and in the innovative business development programs.

Key findings of the areas of investigation

1. Structures and processes
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 A major challenge was ensuring a safe Games through the efforts of security agencies. This required new ways of working between agencies.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) saw the need for a top-down approach to achieve more effective coordination.

The Australian Government established a ministerial subcommittee on security for the 2000 Games in late 1996. From 1998, all security was managed through standing arrangements, with some issues referred to the Secretaries' Committee on National Security from time to time.

The Sydney 2000 Games Coordination Task Force received advice on security matters from an Olympic Security Reference Group comprising representatives from agencies with a security involvement in the Games.

The Australian Government's Protective Security Coordination Centre worked closely with the NSW government and assisted with the drafting of a strategic plan for Olympic security.

When faced with a national security imperative, a centrally coordinated planning structure may be needed to bring about effective coordination of players who traditionally have limited need to come together.
2 The need for an agreed position on border management. A recommendation by the Australian National Audit Office that relevant agencies 'consider the development of a border security purpose statement' was agreed and implemented.

The Australian Customs Service and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs both seconded employees to SOCOG.

Timely external reviews can add value to complex planning processes.

Using normal agency operations as much as possible is a sound approach to planning for major events involving non-regular stakeholders.

3 Early disagreement, then full cooperation, between the Australian Government and the NSW Government, on addressing workforce shortages in the lead-up to the Games.

In early 1996 NSW authorities turned down Australian government offers of assistance with workforce planning.

In February 2000 the Australian Government and SOCOG launched the Sydney Jobs in 2000 initiative, designed to promote the availability of employment opportunities associated with the Games. The initiative included Jobs Expos, a dedicated 'Jobs in 2000' site within the Olympics internet site, and a promotion strategy for job seekers and employers.

Cross-agency or crossjurisdictional turf protection can occur even when there is overwhelming agreement on overall objectives.
4 When the NSW transport system became overloaded following the Opening Ceremony of the Games, organisers faced the prospect of ongoing transport difficulties, and no obvious way to find additional bus drivers. The Head of the Olympic Coordination Authority rang the Games Coordination Task Force directly to say they needed bus drivers urgently. PM&C contacted the Australian Defence Force, which recalled every available service person with an appropriate licence, and had around 150 qualified drivers in Sydney within 48 hours. Because these drivers were not necessarily familiar with Sydney, the NSW authorities provided volunteers to act as guides for the drivers.

Informal networks can be a critical part of finding a cross-jurisdictional solution to an unexpected problem.

Strong personal relationships can facilitate unconventional cross-agency solutions, provided there is sufficient trust and agreement on goals.

2. Culture and capability
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Part of the culture of security and law enforcement organisations is that their training teaches them to be wary. This can present as a lack of trust between security agencies.

The Australian Government's overall objective for the Games was to derive maximum benefit for Australia. This common objective was widely understood, and the Games Coordination Task Force used this to help overcome blockages stemming from organisational culture.

The Task Force recognised the tensions within security and law enforcement agencies within the Australian Government and states, and convened a meeting of senior officials. This built trust and a culture of collaboration.

A constant message from numerous people involved in Olympics planning is: 'Don't underestimate the importance of personal relations'.
3. Information management and infrastructure
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 The need for an identified and authoritative Australian government media voice, and a coordinated approach to media management in Sydney to minimise negative publicity and maximise positive media exposure.

The Australian Government's media strategy was approved by ministers in 1999.

The Games 2000 Media Unit was established in the Games Coordination Task Force in October 1999. The director of the Games Media Unit also acted as the Australian Government's Games spokesperson. A Games media website was established in 2000.

A key element of the Australian Government's collaborative relationship with the NSW Government was the joint sponsorship of the Sydney Media Centre at Darling Harbour for the unaccredited media.

With hindsight, PM&C considers the Games Media Unit was created too late. It suggests creating such a unit 2-3 years before the event, and building a media strategy into the planning process.
2 The need for a contingency communication strategy in the event of a disaster or crisis. The Games media website was to be used as a crisis information site. If a website is to be used for crisis management, rigorously test its capacity to handle a high volume of public and media inquiries, as well as the necessary official information.
4. Budget and accountability framework
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 The need for a whole of government approach to Australian government funding for the Games, covering Australian government agency expenses and support for the NSW Government and SOCOG.

The 1997-98 and 1998-99 Budgets included coordinated bids for Olympic-related expenditure. All bids were vetted by the Secretaries' High Level Reference Group, chaired by the Secretary of PM&C.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Australian Government and NSW was signed on 23 December 1998. It set out the cost recovery parameters for Australian government services. Under the MOU, SOCOG was required to purchase customs, immigration, quarantine and communications services from the Australian Government using $32 million provided to it by the Australian Government. Some services were provided free of charge; others were provided at partial or full cost recovery.

Existing financial coordination processes within the Australian Government are sufficiently robust to manage complex whole of government matters.

Where Australian government services are required for a major event organised principally by another jurisdiction, a detailed purchasing and cost recovery plan is essential.

5. Managing connections outside the APS
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 Wide agreement among stakeholders that the Sydney Airport international terminal would not cope with the peak passenger loads following the Games gave rise to a range of interdependent business concerns that had to be addressed jointly by stakeholders.

Numerous organisations, including airlines and border security agencies, jointly agreed to process athletes' baggage at the Olympic Village rather than at the airport.

This eased airport congestion, but created security and transportation complexities requiring careful negotiation.

An innovative solution to a problem that requires multiple organisations to adopt non-routine procedures will be difficult to implement.

Participants in joint teams need to understand the business drivers and rationales of all organisations involved.

2 The development of cooperative relationships between Australian government and state agencies and the private sector to maximise the economic benefits of the Games required sustained effort, especially in states/territories not hosting Olympic events.

In June 1995 the NSW Government established the Olympic Games Business Roundtable to use the Olympic Games to promote Australian business.

Austrade and the NSW Department of State and Regional Development worked closely on several programs, including Investment 2000-a campaign to unite international business leaders with heads of Australian companies. Under the Australia Open for Business strategy, Austrade developed collaborative programs, including Business Club Australia, to forge links with Australian and international business leaders.

Do not underestimate the creative potential of joint government and private sector interaction, but be aware that the private sector, including industry associations, can be slow to buy into unproven concepts.

It is difficult to get wider state/territory buy-in for a one-state event, and only the Australian Government's involvement can make these into national programs.

3 The need for a united approach by NSW and the Australian Government in servicing the needs of dignitaries visiting Australia for the Games to ensure they received appropriate levels of hospitality.

SOCOG met its contractual obligations in relation to servicing the International Olympic Committee and members and heads of International Sporting Federations.

The Australian Government and NSW established a mechanism for joint handling of dignitaries. In 1997 the Australian Government established the Olympic Dignitary Program.

Whole of government planning for major international events should have a dignitary handling strategy as a discrete component of overall planning. Such a strategy should explicitly acknowledge the differing hospitality protocols of different stakeholders.
6. Management crises and their consequences
  Issues Response Key learnings
1 The high-security imperative for controlling the airspace in the vicinity of Games venues, but the absence of provisions in the Air Services Act 1995 for controlling airspace on security grounds. Although the Australian Government regulates airspace in Australia, it was agreed that NSW has a residual head of power to control airspace within NSW. The Australian Government used the incidental powers under the Air Services Act 1995 to support the NSW airspace controls with fines of up to $25 million. Solutions to seemingly intractable problems can sometimes be found by linking powers or capabilities across jurisdictions.
2 Security contingency planning highlighted the need for different responses to biological, chemical or radiological incidents, depending on whether they were accidental or deliberate.

Fire authorities in all states were the designated emergency organisation for an overt attack using chemical or radiological material. For other types of attacks, lead agencies would have been health services or the police. The PSCC assisted the Games Coordination Task Force to develop arrangements for crisis and incident management so that all relevant Australian Government and NSW state security, military and law enforcement bodies had a a role in planning and investigations.

The same arrangements were negotiated for all states/territories hosting Olympic events, effectively providing Australia with a national security plan.

Innovative crossjurisdictional solutions to managing security aspects of major events can open opportunities for developing and showcasing wider national security plans.



Australian National Audit Office, Audit Report August 1998, Commonwealth Agencies' Security Preparations for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Austrade, The Export Impact of the Olympic Games.

Australian Communications Authority, Games Report: Delivering communications services to the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2001, The Australian Government and the Sydney 2000 Games.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 'The Sydney 2000 Games: Commonwealth non-Security Post-Games Report'.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, (report by Ernst & Young) September 2000, Review of DIMIA's Preparations for the Olympic Games.

Joint Standing Committee on Migration September 1999, Going for Gold: Immigration Entry Arrangements for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

NSW Department of State and Regional Development, Business and Economic Benefits of the Sydney 2000 Games- a Collection of Evidence, report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

NSW Audit Office, Performance Audit Report January 1999, The Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

SOCOG, Official Report of the XXVII Olympiad.

Telstra, The Olympic Games-a Carrier Perspective.

Many departmental annual reports, departmental files and websites were also reviewed.


Grahame Cook, about his then role as head, Sydney 2000 Games Coordination Task Force, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Brent Espeland, about his then role as specialist security adviser, Sydney 2000 Games Coordination Taskforce, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Ron Perry, about his then role as senior adviser, Sydney 2000 Games Coordination Task Force, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Victor Baskir, about his then role as Olympics coordinator, Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, NSW.

Pru Goward, about her then role as media coordinator, Sydney 2000 Games

Coordination Taskforce, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.