Public Sector Perspectives podcast: Wellbeing in the public purpose sector

2 Nov 2022

In partnership with IPAA Victoria’s People and Culture Community of Practice (CoP), IPAA Victoria has launched a new content series dedicated to wellbeing. In our two-part podcast episode, Professor Deborah Blackman and Dr Fiona Buick explore ideas and concepts that underpin wellbeing that public purpose sector leaders and professionals should consider.

As the public purpose sector reflects on the past three years, overwhelmingly, the topics of fatigue, burnout, productivity, mental health and wellbeing keep getting raised. In partnership with IPAA Victoria’s People and Culture CoP, IPAA Victoria has launched a new content series dedicated to wellbeing. The series will reflect on this period of uncertainty, consider what still might need to change when it comes to wellbeing and explore the components of an open, positive and empowering workplace.

In a two-part episode on our Public Sector Perspectives podcast, IPAA Victoria met with two leading Australian researchers, Professor Deborah Blackman and Dr Fiona Buick, who both work with the Public Sector Research Group at the University of New South Wales (Canberra).

Some of the research that Deborah and Fiona mentioned in the show:

I think as we’ve come out from COVID, it means that we are having (wellbeing) conversations much more regularly. Health and safety conversations are different and they will remain different. The concept of psychological wellbeing will remain on the agenda in a way that I don’t think it was before.
— Professor Deborah Blackman, UNSW
Because of public service motivation, and the potential to add value to the broader community, there is so much scope and so much opportunity for public sector organisations to really optimise the wellbeing of their employees. And you could probably argue that at the moment, this (opportunity) is under realised.
— Dr Fiona Buick, UNSW

Podcast speakers


Professor Deborah Blackman Deborah's research interests include Public Sector Policy Implementation, Systems Level change, Employee Performance Management, and Soft Knowledge Management. Deborah researches knowledge transfer in a range of applied, real world contexts. Her primary interest is using philosophical and systems explanations to understand why things do not work when theory implies that they should.

From these enhanced understandings, new theories and applications can be developed to support the implementation of change or reform. The common theme of her work is developing effective knowledge acquisition and transfer in order to improve organisational effectiveness. Current research projects include: hidden value in a system; understanding the impact of system complexity on effective long-term crisis recovery, maximising the value of secondments, and how to create more effective performance management conversations.

In 2021 she coedited the book: Blackman D.(ed.), 2022, Handbook on Performance Management in the Public SectorEdward Elgar.

Dr Fiona Buick Fiona Buick is a Senior Lecturer at UNSW, Canberra (Australia). Fiona’s research focuses on how to build capacity to achieve desired outcomes in the public sector, with specific emphasis on the role of human resource management, organisational culture and middle managers. Fiona was recently the lead researcher on the project “Flexible Working in the Australian Capital Territory Public Service”, and the “Building effective system-wide disability research capacity in Australia: Where are we now and how do we get to where we need to be?” research projects.

Previous projects have explored well-being within the Australian Public Service (APS), structural change in the APS, management capability in the Australian Public Sector, the role of performance management in enabling high performance in the APS, and the role of organisational culture on inter-organizational working in the APS.

Public Sector Perspectives is a podcast produced by IPAA Victoria, the professional association for people who work in and with the public purpose sector in Victoria.