With experience from the World Bank to the Obama White House, Mathan Ratinam has advocated for human-centred design all over the world. We talked to him about what HCD looks like in the Victorian Government, and how his team is helping public servants upskill in the practice.

Mathan Ratinam has worked as a design professional and educator for more than 20 years, endeavouring to ‘take design where it isn’t.’ Prior to joining the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Digital, Design and Innovation branch as their Lead Service Designer, Mathan was the inaugural Managing Director of CivVic Labs at LaunchVic.

Before that, he worked in New York as the Lead Design Specialist in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit at the World Bank. …

The Intelligence Service is a collaborative design concept run by All or Nothing and Code for Australia where we bring people from the private and public sectors together to solve problems, all while playing the role of secret agents. Want to know more? Read on before our intelligence is compromised.

This blog post contains excerpts from ‘The Intelligence Service’ by Grace O’Hara.

🕵️The backstory… or as much intel as we can reveal

We set off with grand ambitions and wild ideas and landed on a concept called The Intelligence Service — a place where startups and public servants could come together to talk about the things that matter most to people, without the greasiness of forced networking.

We anonymise participants, create a shared, common experience through a special dash of “what the hell is going on?” and set them on a task of problem solving together. …

I’d never even heard the term “civic tech” when I started in my role as Head of Communications + Community at Code for Australia — 12 months in, it’s almost all I talk about. But that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect idea, community or movement.

Just over a year ago I took a job working at Code for Australia, a civic tech organisation that aims to help create a more digital government and foster community along the way. I wasn’t coming from a technical background — far from it, my recent work had been at women’s not-for-profits — but I was excited to use my skills in a way that I thought could influence a big number of people.

“In our minds, civic tech is technology that is created to improve social good, whether it falls within the realm of government or not.”

What sold…

Our Communities of Practice will be open to anyone interested in participating — including practitioners and community members who are impacted by the government policies we’re trying to shape.

What are the Communities of Practice (CoP)

These informal and loosely organised networks of people and organisations who have come together online and in person to discuss common areas of interest and solve challenges we face in our own work. It’s a place to share ideas, answer questions, and learn from other folks who care about the topics at hand.

How the CoP came to be

We’ve known for a while that there is a need for a place where people interested in topics we care about can go to share ideas, ask questions and find others doing similar work. …

The 26th of January is this week, and we’re taking this opportunity to talk about why every organisation, regardless of size needs to make space for and allocate time to advancing reconciliation. Here’s our tiny team’s journey with our Reconciliation Action Plan as well as some other ideas we’ve collected for ways to show solidarity on the 26th.

What is a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)?

Put simply, it’s a formal statement of commitment to reconciliation that includes a strategy, actionable goals and timelines of how you plan to get there. A RAP contributes to advancing all dimensions of reconciliation by supporting organisations to develop respectful relationships and create meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A RAP is undertaken, approved by and implemented under the guidance of Reconciliation Australia.

“Reconciliation isn’t a single moment or place in time. It’s lots of small, consistent steps, some big strides, and sometimes unfortunate backwards steps …” — Karen Mundine — CEO, Reconciliation Australia

Why does my organisation need one?

Image: Teachik

Good intentions…

Our community is the bedrock of everything we do and we want to do right by everyone in our orbit. So, we’re using the new year as a time to re-group and to work out what you’d like to see more of from us here at Code for Australia.

Look at all your beautiful faces!

We’ve come up with a short survey that aims to get to the bottom of this. Essentially we want to know more about: what you’d like to see from our blog content, resources we can share with you, events we can organise, any wild ideas you have for us and more!

📝 The survey

Simply click the link below to fill it in. It wont take more than a few minutes of your time and it will help us provide you with everything you want!

📥 Want to give us feedback another way?

We love feedback! If you have something else to say that isn’t covered in the survey, feel…

This blog was written by Nish, Jordy and Daniel — current Code for Australia Fellows who are working with Smart Service Queensland (SSQ). Find out more about the project here.

The Fellows are just over the halfway point of their Fellowship with SSQ and they’ve got some reflections on their time spent within government. Read on to find out what the’ve learned so far.

🛑 Jordy: Real world events impact your work

Photo by Lucian Alexe on Unsplash

My experience prior to working with government has been mainly on the private side, working at an agency. Working with the government is not completely foreign to me but does have its differences. One thing I have learnt first-hand is how real-world events have a quick impact on the priorities for that week.

Government departments have regular projects that are expected to be delivered under a…

Photo by Seyedeh Hamideh Kazemi on Unsplash

Let’s be honest. Every single person working in the public sector deserves an award this year — everyone’s worked hard under the strangest of circumstances. One of the things that we can forget about those working in government is that they’re doing work that ultimately has an impact on the rest of society; if things don’t work or take too long they can have huge repercussions on people in communities throughout the country — that’s a lot of pressure at the best of times!

The good news is that on the whole, local, state, and federal government teams rose to…

Open Nouse is a monthly update from the Code for Australia Base Team, and is one of the ways we put our core value of working in the open into practice.

We’re coming up to the end of the year so what better time to reflect! November saw us working really autonomously for a variety of reasons but we’re excited to reconnect now that the year is winding down for real.

So with that, we’re sharing what’s been challenging (📌) emerging (🌱), and good (🌹), in the past month.

📌 Thorn — Sometimes we’re rushing

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

As a teeny Base Team of three, our systems and practices are important to us. This month, two members of Base Team came down sick in seperate weeks and the third member took some long-overdue leave. …

In the middle of this year, the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others, triggered a need for change around the world. While the movement may have started in America it quickly and rightly found its way to our shores where BIPOC Australians and allies organised across the country to demonstrate and demand systemic change against racism, white supremacy and policy brutality.

Our plans.

As an organisation, we had already spent the early months of 2020 learning all about how to update our existing workplace policies and create new ones. It occurred to us that simply having a Workplace Discrimination Policy wasn’t enough.

So, we’ve been working on our dedicated BIPOC Strategy in a bid to set ourselves clear pathways forward to do our part to make our organisation, civic tech at large, and the world in general a better place. We’re starting in true Code for Australia style, with lots of research. …

Esther Semo

Head of Community + Communications at Code for Australia.

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