The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) is committed to promoting excellence in the public service. Professional development opportunities are critical to this mission especially those that equip public servants with cutting-edge skills.

Context

The Institute of Public Administration Australia is Australia’s peak public sector professional association, providing networking events and professional development opportunities.

The purpose of the organisation is to provide a centre point for people who work in the public service to network, share ideas, celebrate excellence and develop the capacity of individuals within the sector.

In 2017, the IPAA’s Victorian branch contacted Polykala to deliver training as part of their professional development training program. IPAA contacted Polykala due to our innovative pedagogical approach and our strong track record with Victoria’s local and state government sectors. IPAA was looking for practical and engaging training geared towards the socio-cultural challenges VPS staff have to navigate.

Approach

After a careful consultation with the IPAA Vic Learning & Development team, we formulated a Diversity and Inclusion training program geared towards treating inclusion as a feature of leadership practice. Our training became a regular feature of the IPAA’s professional development calendar after two pilots. We delivered these sessions from 2017-19 with a focus on a systemic and interpersonal approach to navigating the challenges and opportunities that a diverse workforce and constituency can create. The sessions provided an introductory understanding of the facets of diversity and the importance of recognising the degree to which our own viewpoint informs the way in which we interpret interpersonal interactions. The session had a strong focus on difficult conversations in the workplace; the need to de-escalate conflict and take the opportunity to engage in learning conversations when the opportunity arises.

In 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, IPAA engaged Polykala to deliver a bespoke Adaptive Leadership program with the Victorian Government’s Victorian Agency for Health Information (VAHI). The two-part session focussed on enacting leadership in the midst of a crisis, distinguishing between technical and adaptive challenges, and the different approaches required to solve (in the case of technical challenges) or make progress (on adaptive challenges).

Outcomes

We are proud to have contributed to the culture of the Victorian Public Service through our partnership with IPAA over three years. In particular, we are proud to have supported the important work of VAHI during a critical period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Polykala team delivered an accessible and, importantly, safe environment for our members to explore diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  They were warm, knowledgeable and tactful in drawing out the nuances of what it means to have an inclusive work environment, drawing on participants’ experiences and gently challenging assumptions.”

Ezra Hansen – Programs Manager, Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria)

Client

Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria)

Year

2017 – 2020

Number of participants

100

Number of sessions

5

Location

Melbourne (Victoria), Online