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Look how far we’ve come

11 July 2024

News and media


Dr Lorraine Cherney,
Acting Director, Regulatory Practice, NRCoP

I recently took part in the International Association on Regulation & Governance conference, run out of The University of Pennsylvania Law School, by Professor Cary Coglianese.

The conference was held over two days and had more than 50 sessions with regulatory scholars and practitioners. I presented alongside colleagues from Australia (Rose Webb, Dr Grant Pink, Roxane Marcelle-Shaw), New Zealand (Lisa Docherty, NZ Ministry for Regulation) and the UK (Marcial Boo, Institute of Regulation). It was the afternoon in Pennsylvania, the evening in the UK, morning time in New Zealand, and super early in Australia when we discussed how communities of practices were operating across our three jurisdictions, our similarities and points of difference.

In preparing for this conference, I was struck by how far the NRCoP has grown and matured over the years. In the early days, the NRCoP coalesced around an informal alumnus group from an ANZSOG program run by Professor Malcolm Sparrow, holding annual forums and speaking tours. During COVID, we morphed into a “hybrid, flexible, agile machine” that ran monthly webinars and created a new operating model, supported by 50 regulatory agencies who paid a yearly subscription fee to fund our program of work.

In 2020 we ran a total of 17 online webinars and 3 facilitated conversations – all whilst we discovered the joys of working-from-home, schooling-from-home, exercising within a 5km distance of home, and slowly losing-our-minds-from-home.

The following year saw us reach membership of 6,500 members and we held a further 13 online webinars and launched a Jobs Board for members to accompany the Regulation Policy and Practice Collection on APO.

As we slowly returned to face-to-face events in 2022, we launched new jurisdictional chapters in South Australia and the ACT. By this stage, we had a total of 82 regulatory agencies supporting our work through yearly subscription fees.  We also began work on The Professional Regulator program with 25 subject matter experts from the NRCoP community contributing their time, knowledge and expertise to the development of the program.

In 2023, we welcomed our 100th corporate member and launched a new jurisdictional chapter in the Northern Territory. We formed a partnership with RegNet at the Australian National University to build and deliver The Professional Regulator Program. We invited 100 of our corporate members to participate in the inaugural cohort (pilot) of the program, receiving strong feedback that we had a program that would meet the needs of contemporary regulators.

2023 also saw the return of the NRCoP conference with over 650 delegates joining over a two-day program online and in-person. In addition to the main conference program, we ran 16 satellite events across the country on the second day, allowing over 400 regional and remote regulatory practitioners to hear Professor Malcolm Sparrow deliver his keynote address and participate in a Sparrow-designed workshop.

Earlier this year in March, we launched the final jurisdictional chapter in Tasmania.  We continue to grow with around 115 regulatory agencies sponsoring the work of the NRCoP with over 7,000 individual members.

The NRCoP now operates in a “hybrid” format, with events and educational webinars available both in-person and online across the country. This model has allowed us to retain many of the great aspects of connectivity gained during the COVID-years for regional and remote members.

As I’ve been reflecting on these achievements of the NRCoP and weighing up how they align to the work of other Communities of Practice.

What is a Community of Practice?

The scholarly literature tells us that Communities of Practices have three distinct components: domain, practice and community.

Ref: Communities of Practice – Scaled Agile Framework

– In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other; they care about their standing with each other.[1]


In regard to the NRCoP, our domain is regulation. Members of the NRCoP are connected through the field of regulation. Our members are regulatory practitioners, study or research regulation, support regulators, or work closely with regulators. NRCoP members are concerned with the practice of regulation. A large part of our community is comprised of regulatory practitioners. As a community, we share information, expertise and resources with other members. We run group activities that foster connections amongst regulatory peers. Our members take lessons learnt from their participation in the NRCoP back to their colleagues and agencies.

The benefits of being a member of the NRCoP

  • We have a back-catalogue to match The Beatles, sitting at around 60 recordings from educational webinars and conference proceedings (check out our Regulatory Resources).​
  • Looking for a new job in regulation? Looking to advertise an appointment and find the right candidate with great regulatory skills? We can help you with that (check out our Jobs Board).​
  • Looking to up-skill and learn alongside colleagues from a range of regulatory spheres across the country? We can help here too (enrol in Australia’s leading professional development program for regulators).
  • Looking to find peers in your local area who aren’t bothered by your incessant regulatory talk? Want to find out how to solve tricky problems and discuss what good regulation looks like? The NRCoP is your one-stop-shop for this too (make sure you are signed-up to receive info on what’s happening in your jurisdiction).

The NRCoP is a great community to work in and with regulatory professionals, all eager to share their expertise, time and knowledge with their peers. The NRCoP provides a hub for regulators to coalesce and support their peers to learn and grow as regulators. As we continue to grow and create a sense of shared purpose so that regulators feel part of a wider community, we are keen to ensure that we have diversity of voices contributing to our program and the general discussions. We are here to represent you and work on the topics that are of interest/importance to you. The NRCoP is for all regulators including frontline officers and those who are new to regulation.


[1] Wenger-Trayner, E. and Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015) An introduction to communities of practice: a brief overview of the concept and its uses. Available from authors at https://www.wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice