Conference: A Crisis of Expertise? Legitimacy and the Challenge of Policymaking

Expertise Conference Image

From Thursday 15 February to Friday 16 February, the Melbourne School of Government will host a conference on expertise in policymaking.

At a time when the economic, social and environmental governance challenges facing contemporary societies have grown in severity, scope and complexity, trust in experts and established institutions is in decline. In the process the role and legitimacy of expertise in policymaking has increasingly been called into question. It is timely to think anew, and self-critically, about our assumptions regarding experts and expertise. In this two-day conference our focus is on policymaking which is controversial, contested and complex, which is sociotechnical and not simply technical or purely scientific.

For further details and registration, please visit the conference website.

Pathways to Politics Program for Women featured on ABC News

Pathways to Politics in Parliament
The Pathways to Politics Program for Women was featured on ABC Weekend Breakfast and ABC News on 4 November 2017, following the first ever session where fellows delivered speeches in the Victorian Parliament.

The ABC News segment includes an overview of the program and interviews with current and former fellows, as well as footage from the special parliamentary session.

Produced by: Helen Vines

On Weekend Breakfast, the program’s academic coordinator Dr Andrea Carson discusses the poor representation of women in Australian politics and how the Pathways to Politics Program seeks to address this issue.

Produced by: Dale Drinkwater

For more information about the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, please visit our website.

Professor John Howe appointed Director of the Melbourne School of Government

John Howe

The Melbourne School of Government is delighted to announce that the School’s new Director will be Professor John Howe. John is currently the Co-Director of the Melbourne Law School’s Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law and he has a longstanding interest in government and politics.

He will commence his role on 6 November.

John’s research and teaching interests include regulatory theory, labour law and corporate accountability. John has written extensively on the role of the state in regulating employment and labour markets, and on the intersection between state-based regulation and corporate governance. He is presently engaged in research concerning regulatory enforcement of minimum employment standards in Australia and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Prior to commencing an academic career, John worked in private legal practice, and also as a researcher for public policy and advocacy organisations in Washington DC. John was Secretary of the Australian Labour Law Association between 2005 and 2009. He was Deputy Dean of the Melbourne Law School from 2013-2016, and sole Director of the CELRL between 2008 and 2013.

The School would also like to thank Professor Andrew Walter for his work as Interim Director of the School.

The Melbourne School of Government welcomes Dr Stephen Kinsella

The Melbourne School of Government is pleased to welcome Dr Stephen Kinsella as teacher in the Master of Public Administration. Dr Kinsella is visiting the School from September 2017 through to September 2018 and will be leading the subject ‘Governing Challenges 1’.

Dr Kinsella is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick and focuses on the Irish and European economies. In addition to his extensive academic publications, including four books and more than thirty journal articles, Dr Kinsella is a weekly columnist for the Sunday Business Post and has published articles in Harvard Business ReviewForeign Affairs, and VoxEU.

In ‘Governing Challenges 1’, Dr Kinsella will draw on his recent research and public commentary to introduce students to the challenges of governing through austerity. The subject is scheduled in two blocks of two days in early 2018.

For a full biography and further detail on Dr Kinsella’s research interests and up-to-date publications, visit his page here. He has previously discussed austerity in Ireland here and austerity more broadly here and here.
Dr Kinsella is on Twitter @stephenkinsella.

Career spotlight: Rebecca McParland, Manager Statewide Policy and Design, Family Safety Victoria

We are not responding adequately to the scale and impact of the harm caused by family violence. This was one conclusion of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, which handed down its recommendations last year.

To start solving the problem, the report recommended that seventeen Support and Safety Hubs be established across the state. Master of Public Administration (Enhanced) graduate Rebecca McParland is managing a team responsible for the design of key elements in the hubs, and how the hubs will interface with other agencies and institutions.

She works at Family Safety Victoria, a new agency that started in July. The hubs she’s helping to design will deliver a fundamental change to the way we work with women, children, young people and families  who are experiencing family violence. They will make the experience of getting support as easy as possible to simplify what can often be confusing justice, health and social services.

“It’s challenging and exciting working at Family Safety Victoria,” McParland says. “The people here are committed to broader system reform, so there’s a lot of work to do, but we’re all in.”

It’s a complex job. McParland studied the Master of Public Administration in part to connect her day-to-day policy work with the various contexts feeding into it.

“It adds to the richness of your thinking,” she says of undertaking postgraduate study.

Key to the degree is that students bring their own professional experiences to the classroom. “We all shared our experiences against the backdrop of the curriculum,” she says. “So you get to develop really great relationships with people, which have continued to this day.”

McParland started the course in part to challenge herself, and says that on that level it succeeded. “It’s always good to be challenged. It’s always good to be learning. That’s something that I’ve definitely realised in my career – the importance of professional development. It can look different to different people, but for me it meant having the opportunity to interrogate the literature across different systems and contexts, and to tap into broader ways of thinking,” she says.

“Sometimes it’s nice to step back and have that time to think. You don’t necessarily get the opportunity to do that in your day to day work life.”

Dr Dan Halliday presents ABC TV series

Dan HallidayIn the new ABC series ‘Ethics Matters’, Dr Dan Halliday takes us through some of the great ethical questions of our time.

Dr Halliday is a political philosophy expert who teaches in the Melbourne School of Government’s MPA.

The series presents a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience while grappling with a variety of ethical problems. “I would really hope that the program can help people see the ways in which discipline of philosophy can make our disagreements more constructive, so that some progress can be made,” Dr Halliday said.

In this 12 episode series, Dr Halliday invites leading ethics experts to discuss animal rights, religious freedom, rights of the individualand many more complex issues that we face every day.

Dr Halliday is excited to shine a new light on philosophy in what he regards as a completely new format: “unlike other academic disciplines, philosophy rarely finds its way into television, so that is exciting in itself.”

The series is currently airing on Thursdays on ABC3, with some episodes available via ABC iView. The series will also be accompanied by a podcast, Dialogues, available from October. Find out more at

MSoG Director Andrew Walter on Triple R

Interim Director of Melbourne School of Government, Andrew Walter, was a recent guest on Triple R show “Uncommon Sense”. Professor Walter discusses Brexit, the triggering of Article 50 by PM Theresa May, and the fall-out for Britain, the EU, Scotland and Ireland. Listen to the podcast here.

Dr Avery Poole awarded grant to study youth in Australia and Indonesia

Dr Avery Poole, Assistant Director, Melbourne School of Government and Dr Dafri Agussalim from Gadjah Mada University have been awarded $25,000 by the Australia-Indonesia Centre for their project ‘Youth Perceptions and Diplomatic Relations: Improving Australia-Indonesia Relations Through Education’, which explores the role of education exchange in shaping the perceptions of young Australians of Indonesia, and the perceptions of young Indonesians of Australia.


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