In his 2011 Don Dunstan oration, Premier Weatherill declared that “a way must be found to reconnect with our citizens, to restore them to their rightful place at the centre of everything we do” and that outstanding customer service is not a “one size fits all model, but rather a model oriented to the particular needs of the citizens being served.” A Focus on Customer and Citizen Participation and Partnerships, which was commissioned by government in aid of offering public sector employees the opportunity to explore the Premier’s vision and also the government’s public sector reform initiative, the High Performance Framework (HPF) [] which supports agencies to realise that vision, focussed on the HPF’s characteristic 7: High Performing Organisations are Customer and Citizen Focused.

A Focus on Customer and Citizen Participation and Partnerships is the first of an HPF Seminar Series to be offered this year, a series that will unpack the characteristics and building blocks of the HPF and place them in the context of public sector agencies. The series has been designed to explore the ways in which agencies are already innovating and improving to achieve the vision of the Government. The current interactive event explored best practice case studies from across South Australia and showed how the Premier’s vision is being achieved, from consultation through to empowerment, and how the public sector can continue to improve its services in partnership with those who receive them.At the event, a panel of representatives from state and local government built on this vision and exchange ideas with the audience.

  • The Hon Michael O’Brien MP, Minister for the Public Sector, who provided the key note speech and stayed for the duration of the program and after the Q & A session, generously remaining behind for one-on-one discussion with event delegates, concerning their particular views and concerns;
  • Elaine Bensted, Chief Executive, Office of TAFE SA and President of IPAA SA; who MC’d the event and facilitated the Q & A session;
  • Bill Cinnamond, Director, Public Sector Management Division, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, who detailed the key components of the HPF, with a particular focus upon Characteristic 7;
  • Emma Lawson, Director, Community Engagement, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, who in conjunction with David Speirs, Principal Policy Officer, Community Engagement, Department of the Premier and Cabinet (also Deputy Mayor of the City of Marion), outlined the IAP2 initiative;
  • Wendy Campana, Chief Executive Officer, Local Government Association, who covered Local Government’s best practice consultation processes and methods and also highlighted current challenges to best practice consultation;
  • Keith Bartley, Chief Executive of the Department of Education and Child Development, who outlined DECD’s co-production polices and methodologies with a focus on how these are implemented through DECD sites (school) and services;
  • Peter Welling, Director, Service SA, who spoke on the directorate’s continually revised Customer Service Strategies, with a focus on the directorate’s measurement, evaluation and continuous improvement tools and procedures.

The event enjoyed very high attendance, with over 400 public sector employees having participated, coming from both State government and Local Government organisations, and largely representing senior officers, team leaders, managers and a high proportion of directorate leaders. The high turn-out is no doubt partly due the fact that IPAA’s Corporate Membership agreement with the SA Government’s Senior Management Council (SMC) ensures that all agencies and their employees receive free entry to HPF seminars (and other events). This was a key motivator is supported by IPAA’s post event survey, which collected the feedback of well over 30% of those attending the event, and also highlighted the fact that another key motivator for attendance was each delegate’s keen interest in learning how to better serve the needs and interests of SA citizens and residents. Some comments recorded are worthy of particular note:

“I always find it particularly useful and interesting to hear about other agencies’ programs and experiences, learn who’s doing what so I can utilise that knowledge to assist with our own Divisional programs.”

“I got a lot of value from attending the session and would certainly attend something like this again. I’m taking the information from the session back to my workplace and presenting the key information to managers and staff for their benefit, and will seek to incorporate this into strategic planning.”

“We used to do lots of inclusive activities for consumers but management cut back and it wasn’t possible to continue, neither is the current bunch interested or knowledgeable in the area, so I wait the impetus. It was great to hear its coming from the top down.”

“I work for an agency and was unaware of this initiative. Valuable in assisting me in my role and for developing future customer-centric strategies – thank you!”

“My organisation is not yet on-board with the necessary improvements for community involvement, unfortunately. It will be one of my tasks to try to influence this.”

“All Government agencies have a role with citizens; but the learnings can be applied to internal customers as well. While my present role is internally focused, it doesn’t mean I won’t have an ‘external’ or community focus in the future. This stuff is important to know to build knowledge.”

“I have attended an IPAA accredited course which was excellent. This event builds on the reputation of IPAA as a leader in the field – thank you.”

Another key piece of feedback, virtually universal to all responses, was that delegates are keen to hear a lot more about the HPF. IPAA is pleased to announce that it has been commissioned to provide 2 more HPF seminars, due for roll out before 30 June, 2012, the first of these to be on “Innovation and Continuous Improvement” and the second on “Leadership”.

Other feedback worth noting is that delegates would like to be provided greater opportunity to raise questions in the future: for the next 2 HPF seminars, IPAA will be providing index cards (and also notepads) and pens, for delegates to record their questions, anonymously if they prefer. IPAA will be collating the questions provided and the event MC’s will be raising the questions for discussion during the Q & A sessions.

Also of undoubted interest to public sector employees is that IPAA is developing a series of Cultural Change Management Programs for in-house delivery, the first of these – Developing a Customer Service Excellence Culture – is now available: the course outline is now available here:

View Event Resources

6th March 2012