Illuminating Lived Experience

Lab Note from the Sydney Policy Lab: “The lived experiences of people involved in care – from informal and formal care workers to the people they support – is foundational to the Australia Cares project. To learn from the ways people with lived experience are included in co-design and research methods, the Sydney Policy Lab initiated reflective research that has resulted in a Lab Note on Illuminating Lived Experience (pdf, 1MB).

Through a series of interviews, dialogues and collaborative writing processes, co-authors explored tensions between different approaches and core concepts underpinning lived experience methods and shared examples of those methods in practice.

Illuminating Lived Experience poses questions that may help guide researchers and policymakers seeking to engage people with lived experience and three core principles we believe are required for such engagements.

The Lab Note aims to encourage researchers to be creative in the ways co-design and lived experience are approached while being true to the critical roots of participatory methodologies. Rather than prescribing methods, the principles and practices developed are offered as a guide – a starting point for play…(More)”

Framework for Governance of Indigenous Data (GID)

Framework by The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA): “Australian Public Service agencies now have a single Framework for working with Indigenous data.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency will collaborate across the Australian Public Service to implement the Framework for Governance of Indigenous Data in 2024.

Commonwealth agencies are expected to develop a seven-year implementation plan, guided by four principles:

  1. Partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  2. Build data-related capabilities
  3. Provide knowledge of data assets
  4. Build an inclusive data system

The Framework represents the culmination of over 18 months of co-design effort between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners. While we know we have some way to go, the Framework serves as a significant step forward to improve the collection, use and disclosure of data, to better serve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander priorities.

The Framework places Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at its core. Recognising the importance of authentic engagement, it emphasises the need for First Nations communities to have a say in decisions affecting them, including the use of data in government policy-making.

Acknowledging data’s significance in self-determination, the Framework provides a stepping stone towards greater awareness and acceptance by Australian Government agencies of the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty.

It offers practical guidance on implementing key aspects of data governance aligned with both Indigenous Data Sovereignty principles and the objectives of the Australian Government…(More)”.

World-first data storage infrastructure solution built by Iwi Māori, for Iwi Māori

Media release: “Te Kāhui Raraunga Charitable Trust (TKR) is on a mission to provide a data storage solution like no other in the pursuit of mana motuhake when it comes to data and the digital future. The concept of the network’s purpose is encapsulated in its name, Te Pā Tūwatawata.

And after six months of testing, the pilot phase has proven so successful, TKR expects Te Pā Tūwatawata to go live in early 2025.

The kaupapa involves the development of a distributed storage network to enable iwi, hapū and whānau Māori to collect, store, protect, access and control their own data.

Unlike other data storage solutions here and around the world, the servers used to connect the network will be based at the heart of where the data comes from – on marae, inside Māori organisations, or at other relevant iwi locations.

Three locations have been in the testing phase since late 2023, with the final network set to open with eight locations around the motu.

TKR Chairman, Rāhui Papa says the project is not only a world-first, but significantly embraces core concepts like kotahitanga – through sharing and scaling; and rangatiratanga – by giving iwi and hapū the power to control and make decisions over their own data.

“Iwi Māori Data sovereignty is at the heart of everything we do at TKR. As the world becomes more and more digital, we must adapt and be prepared to create our own infrastructure and empower our people with the know-how and skills to use it,” says Mr Papa.

Kirikowhai Mikaere, Lead Technician for the Data ILG and Te Kāhui Raraunga says traditionally, data centres are located in big warehouses, completely isolated from the source of the data and the people and whenua who have connection to it.

“With this kaupapa, we’re housing the data where it belongs, under the safe protection of the people that it means the most to. Additionally, with Te Pā Tūwatawata being located on-shore and owned by us, it meets the principles of Iwi Māori Data Sovereignty at the highest levels,” says Ms Mikaere…(More)”.

Building a trauma-informed algorithmic assessment toolkit

Report by Suvradip Maitra, Lyndal Sleep, Suzanna Fay, Paul Henman: “Artificial intelligence (AI) and automated processes provide considerable promise to enhance human wellbeing by fully automating or co-producing services with human service providers. Concurrently, if not well considered, automation also provides ways in which to generate harms at scale and speed. To address this challenge, much discussion to date has focused on principles of ethical AI and accountable algorithms with a groundswell of early work seeking to translate these into practical frameworks and processes to ensure such principles are enacted. AI risk assessment frameworks to detect and evaluate possible harms is one dominant approach, as are a growing body of AI audit frameworks, with concomitant emerging governmental and organisational regulatory settings, and associate professionals.

The research outlined in this report took a different approach. Building on work in social services on trauma-informed practice, researchers identified key principles and a practical framework that framed AI design, development and deployment as a reflective, constructive exercise that resulting in algorithmic supported services to be cognisant and inclusive of the diversity of human experience, and particularly those who have experienced trauma. This study resulted in a practical, co-designed, piloted Trauma Informed Algorithmic Assessment Toolkit.

This Toolkit has been designed to assist organisations in their use of automation in service delivery at any stage of their automation journey: ideation; design; development; piloting; deployment or evaluation. While of particular use for social service organisations working with people who may have experienced past trauma, the tool will be beneficial for any organisation wanting to ensure safe, responsible and ethical use of automation and AI…(More)”.

Sludge Toolkit

About: “Sludge audits are a way to identify, quantify and remove sludge (unnecessary frictions) from government services. Using the NSW Government sludge audit method, you can

  • understand where sludge is making your government service difficult to access
  • quantify the impact of sludge on the community
  • know where and how you can improve your service using behavioural science
  • measure the impact of your service improvements…(More)”.

Debate and Decide: Innovative Participatory Governance in South Australia 2010–2018

Paper by Matt D. Ryan: “This article provides an account of how innovative participatory governance unfolded in South Australia between 2010 and 2018. In doing so it explores how an ‘interactive’ political leadership style, which scholarship argues is needed in contemporary democracy, played out in practice. Under the leadership of Premier Jay Weatherill this approach to governing, known as ‘debate and decide’, became regarded as one of the most successful examples of democratic innovation globally. Using an archival and media method of analysis the article finds evidence of the successful application of an interactive political leadership style, but one that was so woven into competitive politics that it was abandoned after a change in government in March 2018. To help sustain interactive political leadership styles the article argues for research into how a broader base of politicians perceives the benefits and risks of innovative participatory governance. It also argues for a focus on developing politicians’ collaborative leadership capabilities. However, the article concludes by asking: if political competition is built into our system of government, are we be better off leveraging it, rather than resisting it, in the pursuit of democratic reform?…(More)”.

The case for adaptive and end-to-end policy management

Article by Pia Andrews: “Why should we reform how we do policy? Simple. Because the gap between policy design and delivery has become the biggest barrier to delivering good public services and policy outcomes and is a challenge most public servants experience daily, directly or indirectly.

This gap wasn’t always the case, with policy design and delivery separated as part of the New Public Management reforms in the ’90s. When you also consider the accelerating rate of change, increasing cadence of emergencies, and the massive speed and scale of new technologies, you could argue that end-to-end policy reform is our most urgent problem to solve.

Policy teams globally have been exploring new design methods like human-centred design, test-driven iteration (agile), and multi-disciplinary teams that get policy end users in the room (eg, NSW Policy Lab). There has also been an increased focus on improving policy evaluation across the world (eg, the Australian Centre for Evaluation). In both cases, I’m delighted to see innovative approaches being normalised across the policy profession, but it has become obvious that improving design and/or evaluation is still far from sufficient to drive better (or more humane) policy outcomes in an ever-changing world. It is not only the current systemic inability to detect and respond to unintended consequences that emerge but the lack of policy agility that perpetuates issues even long after they might be identified.

Below I outline four current challenges for policy management and a couple of potential solutions, as something of a discussion starter

Problem 1) The separation of (and mutual incomprehension between) policy design, delivery and the public

The lack of multi-disciplinary policy design, combined with a set-and-forget approach to policy, combined with delivery teams being left to interpret policy instructions without support, combined with a gap and interpretation inconsistency between policy modelling systems and policy delivery systems, all combined with a lack of feedback loops in improving policy over time, has led to a series of black holes throughout the process. Tweaking the process as it currently stands will not fix the black holes. We need a more holistic model for policy design, delivery and management…(More)”.

Using Democratic Innovation to Rebuild Trust between Elected Officials and Citizens

Article by Nick Vlahos: “According to Pew Research, public trust in government is among the lowest it has been in 70 years of polling. Today, 25% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they trust the federal government just about always or most of the time, compared with 8% of Republicans and Republican leaners.

The dismal statistics we continue to see year in and year out are compounded by the fact that democracy is under threat around the world. In response, many are turning to democratic innovations. According to Oliver Escobar and Stephen Elstub, democratic innovations are “processes or institutions that are new to a policy issue, policy role, or level of governance, and developed to reimagine and deepen the role of citizens in governance processes by increasing opportunities for participation, deliberation and influence.”

Many of these innovations intend to redefine the role of citizens and carve out unique opportunities for them to engage with their peers, collectively problem-solving, and making decisions on important issues. However, there are increasing calls for re-envisioning the relationship between elected officials and citizens using deliberative and participatory processes.

One such approach is the deliberative town hall, implemented by the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability at Ohio State University. The model utilizes democratic innovation in the form of a deliberative mini-public within a single constituency, in relation to an elected official. Deliberative town halls bring together a cross-section of the community using stratified sampling, or civic lottery. The process further involves informed discussion on a topic with an elected official.

This approach has been commonly used with Members of Congress, but has recently been used in other Commonwealth countries, notably in Australia. What we know from this experience is that deliberative town halls can rebuild democratic relations by making interactions between elected officials and citizens more authentic, using reciprocal reason giving and sharing, and through active listening. In addition, ensuring that people with lived experience and scientific or topical expertise are present in conversations creates conditions for members of the public to better understand the nuances of an issue. Lastly, the Australian example highlights how having some type of impact over an outcome is highly prized by the public – they want to have their input factored into a decision, if not determining a decision altogether…(More)”.

AI in public services will require empathy, accountability

Article by Yogesh Hirdaramani: “The Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has released the first of its Long Term Insights Briefing, which focuses on how the Government can integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into public services while maintaining the trustworthiness of public service delivery.

Public servants need to remain accountable and transparent with their use of AI, continue to demonstrate empathy for the people they serve, use AI to better meet people’s needs, and build AI literacy amongst the Australian public, the report stated.

The report also cited a forthcoming study that found that Australian residents with a deeper understanding of AI are more likely to trust the Government’s use of AI in service delivery. However,more than half of survey respondents reported having little knowledge of AI.

Key takeaways

The report aims to supplement current policy work on how AI can be best governed in the public service to realise its benefits while maintaining public trust.

In the longer term, the Australian Government aims to use AI to deliver personalised services to its citizens, deliver services more efficiently and conveniently, and achieve a higher standard of care for its ageing population.

AI can help public servants achieve these goals through automating processes, improving service processing and response time, and providing AI-enabled interfaces which users can engage with, such as chatbots and virtual assistants.

However, AI can also lead to unfair or unintended outcomes due to bias in training data or hallucinations, the report noted.

According to the report, the trustworthy use of AI will require public servants to:

  1. Demonstrate integrity by remaining accountable for AI outcomes and transparent about AI use
  2. Demonstrate empathy by offering face-to-face services for those with greater vulnerabilities 
  3. Use AI in ways that improve service delivery for end-users
  4. Build internal skills and systems to implement AI, while educating the public on the impact of AI

The Australian Taxation Office currently uses AI to identify high-risk business activity statements to determine whether refunds can be issued or if further review is required, noted the report. Taxpayers can appeal the decision if staff decide to deny refunds…(More)”

Scaling deep through transformative learning in public sector innovation labs – experiences from Vancouver and Auckland

Article by Lindsay Cole & Penny Hagen: “…explores scaling deep through transformative learning in Public Sector Innovation Labs (PSI labs) as a pathway to increase the impacts of their work. Using literature review and participatory action research with two PSI labs in Vancouver and Auckland, we provide descriptions of how they enact transformative learning and scaling deep. A shared ambition for transformative innovation towards social and ecological wellbeing sparked independent moves towards scaling deep and transformative learning which, when compared, offer fruitful insights to researchers and practitioners. The article includes a PSI lab typology and six moves to practice transformative learning and scaling deep…(More)”.