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Your feedback on priorities for change

14 May 2019
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In March we asked you to test the changes we’re suggesting for the future of the Australian public service.

In effect, these set out the panel’s main priorities for change and their sense of the challenge ahead.

First up, our thanks for the interest in these priorities for change. The report itself has been downloaded 9,676 times and the resources alongside it have had their fair share of interest too.

Over a 6-week consultation period, you’ve given us:

  • 467 comments on how the strengthen our proposals, what we’ve missed and tips for implementing change – which brings us to 737 comments across the vision and priorities
  • 30 new submissions to the review for a total of 741
  • useful insights into what helps and hinders change programs, and the willingness to champion change from senior public service leaders and 60 public servants of all levels
  • a sense of the proposals which are recognised for their potential or difficulty
  • expert feedback from public servants, politicians, unions, and state and international jurisdictions

Thank you for every single contribution. We appreciate it.

As our Chair David Thodey stated in the Priorities for Change Report ‘we believe it is only through testing our thinking, openly and iteratively, that we will come to the best answers – robust, implementable recommendations that achieve the desired outcomes for the APS.’

And we are now listening to what you’ve said – checking and interrogating the data, giving our panel the information they need to make decisions and preparing detailed recommendations for their final report.

There are a few insights which keep coming up.

Common themes across all comments

Across the board, there are 3 pieces of advice for this review which stood out the most. They were:

  • be clear and specific in the recommendations, what each means in practice and how they can be achieved
  • build capability across the system because there is little confidence the current system can support doing things differently
  • strike a balance between standardising the way the service works and giving public service organisations the flexibility they need to carry out very different responsibilities

Insights for making change happen

Your comments confirmed the success of most ideas is dependent on achieving a number of others. For example, you can’t have new ways of working without investing in people’s skills.

They also gave us a sense of what enables change to happen:

  • senior leaders and staff name genuine collaboration as well as support, encouragement and trust from management as important ingredients for change
  • senior leaders also need to feel they have authority to act, there are clear priorities and there is sufficient time and scope in their roles to drive change
  • for staff, they suggest more informed allocation of budgets, more investment in people’s skills and abilities, updated systems and a culture which allows risk and failure

On buy-in and ownership

There is enthusiasm for change across the Australian public service. As well as a strong commitment to serving the public and frustrations about the way things work now.

Senior leaders understand their role in the future of the service and say they’re committed to taking action, particularly at a personal level. They also see the need to develop and empower the people who work to them, building future leaders.

We've put together some insights from online comments and recent engagements with the public service below.


  • A cross section of the Australian public service on implementing change (PDF 1.4MB). These are the views of 60 public servants ranging from graduates to deputy heads, with experience and expertise in change. Read more and watch the video.
  • Senior leaders on implementing change (PDF 1.0MB). These are the views of 130 senior leaders in the Australian public service. Read more and watch the video
  • Summary of online comments on priorities (PDF 135KB).