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Five thought-provoking articles from 2020 for public sector leaders

15 December 2020

News and media


Crumpled paper as light bulb metaphor over blackboard

Efforts to curb the pandemic have meant significant social and economic sacrifices had to be made and while it has been the dominant issue for public managers, it has not been the only major change to happen this year. We have also seen a global surge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has highlighted systematic inequalities in Australia, particularly the high rate of Aboriginal deaths in custody. There has also been a rise in rates of domestic and family violence – one of the many implications of brought about in part by unprecedented lockdowns.

Meanwhile, public servants have had to rethink the way they approach policy and management. There is a strong sense that things can’t go back to the way they were.

This social change is still only in its early stages – there is more work to be done. We’ve checked the statistics to find some of the most popular articles on the ANZSOG website in 2020 which offer thought-provoking analysis on what the next steps to create change might be.

Why the Black Lives Matter movement must continue

By Professor Marcia Langton

Professor Marcia Langton AM delivered the 2020 Thea Astley Address at the Byron Writers Festival. She describes the recent history of Aboriginal Deaths in Custody around Australia and the systemic racism that causes them – more than 400 since the royal commission commenced in 1987.

Despite this, few people have paid attention to or been aware of the extraordinary statistics and stories. Black Lives Matter protestors have changed that this year. The principles of the movement must be implemented and the protests must continue. This is a transcript of Professor Langton’s speech. She presents the evidence from coronial reports and The Guardian Australia investigation into Aboriginal deaths in custody in Australia, and closes with a call to action. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains names of deceased people.

This article was republished from The Conversation.

Read more here

Waiting decades to reduce domestic abuse isn’t an option: this is what needs to change

Approximately one-quarter of women in Australia, and one-third in Aotearoa-New Zealand have experienced at least one incident of violence by an intimate partner. Jess Hill, author of the award-winning See What You Made Me Do, says that waiting decades for gender equality before reducing domestic and family violence was “not good enough and not necessary”. The evidence shows that there are steps being taken around the world that are having an impact.

In parts of Latin America, offending rates dropped by up to 50 per cent after the establishment women’s police stations. In Scotland, coercive control was made a crime in April 2019.

This article gives an overview of an ANZSOG seminar which featured Jess Hill, and discusses some of the successful inatitives, why involving Indigenous communities in solutions is important, and the impact of COVID-19 on gender-based violence.

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Governing in a COVID-19 world: Glyn Davis says we must accept that things won’t return to normal

COVID-19 is not the kind of crisis Australia is used to. There is no long-term endpoint which meant governments could not just “drop everything else,” to deal with the problem and then move on, says Professor Glyn Davis. “The ideology of new public management over the last 30 years has exhausted its potential.” In short, it’s time for public servants to rethink government.

Change will be difficult, but the pandemic has prompted important shifts and show that rebuilding is possible. This article flags some of the potential problems, but also some of the potential solutions – actions and mindsets that public servants can take on as we move to a COVID-normal.

This article was featured in ANZSOG’s Future public sector leaders series.

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The Closing the Gap target to reduce numbers of Indigenous children in care by 45% within 10 years is unrealistic and likely to fail

By Jacynta Krakouer (University of Melbourne)

A new national agreement for Closing the Gap has reset the previous agreement with 16 welfare targets to diminish Indigenous ‘disadvantage’. One of the targets aims to reduce the number of Indigenous Australian children in out-of-home care by 45 per cent by 2031.

That will require significant investment from all Australian governments, argues Jacynta Krakouer, particularly in prevention and early intervention. Ms Krakouer, a Mineng Noongar lecturer and researcher at the University of Melbourne in the Department of Social Work, says this has not been a priority of Australian governments to date. In particular, there is a substantial risk of disconnection from Indigenous culture, community and family. But since the targets focus on numbers, cultural connection may become a second priority.

Krakouer says this is proof of a failure to grasp the complexities of the system, making the 2031 target unrealistic.

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Self-determination needed for effective First Nations Peoples’ response to family violence

By Carissa Lee Godwin (Analysis and Policy Observatory)

Family violence in First Nations communities requires a culturally sensitive approach that also addresses the systemic disadvantage and intergenerational trauma that has been caused by colonisation. COVID-19 restrictions have seen an increase in family and intimate partner violence in Australia more broadly, but cultural differences in approaches by the justice system means that there has been a failure to deliver services for First Nations families impacted by family violence.

Carissa Lee Godwin unpacks the findings of a research report by the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety: ‘Understanding the role of law and culture in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in responding to and preventing family violence’. The report suggests First Nations people working in the field need to be consulted about their insights to family and intimate partner violence.

This article outlines the findings of the report, highlighting the call for a community-led response, key policy recommendations and the benefits to First Nations and non-Indigenous people.

Read more here

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Read more #BestofANZSOG2020 articles:

Five things we learned about crisis leadership during COVID-19
Five public administration lessons from 2020
Three things we learned about working from home in 2020
Five things we learned in 2020 about mega-crises, wicked problems, and the VUCA world
Six things COVID-19 taught us about regulation and why people comply
Four lessons from 2020 policy makers need to learn