At a recent dinner to celebrate IPAA Victoria’s 90th Anniversary, IPAA Victoria President Kym Peake reflected on our purpose and our future.
IPAA Victoria has always represented a collection of people who are passionate about the advancement of the public purpose professions we are all associated with.
Back at the start of the great depression, a small group of public servants came together on 20 June 1929 to form the Victorian regional group of the London Institute of Public Administration. The founders saw the new institute as a forum for big ideas and big thinking. They saw better public administration as an essential part of Victoria’s and Australia’s growth and development.
IPAA Victoria’s 90-year foundation underscores the importance of having an enduring, strong and stable institution that upholds and promotes the values of an impartial public service. We have been and remain an institution that advances the craft of a broad range of public professions and organisations - whichever sector, level of government or part of the state they work in. And we are institution that stays true to our fundamental purpose – while always remaining open to refreshing what it offers to remain relevant and valuable to the professions we serve.
This flexibility and adaptability has never been so important as it is today because the future holds different kinds of challenges. For example, two in every three people in my department’s workforce are women. Yet it wasn’t until 1979 that a woman became President of IPAA Victoria. She was Margery Ramsay, and at that time she was Victoria’s first female State Librarian. Margery was unequivocal about the best means of redressing gender inequality.
She said that ‘ ... women engaged in management must be accepted as managers, not as “women managers”. And IPAA Victoria has responded to that challenge by demonstrating consistent support for women in the public service.
In more recent times, we have also led on the issue of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reconciliation. IPAA Victoria has a strong and abiding commitment to promoting the role of the public sector in the reconciliation process – and, specifically, promoting Aboriginal career development in our sector. This is crucial work and I was extremely proud to be able to launch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Framework for the health, human and community services sector yesterday. This framework will help ensure that our indigenous employees can make a contribution free of conscious and unconscious discrimination.
Since the beginning, IPAA Victoria has championed public purpose professions and professionals by providing education and training to public servants at every level. Our programs committee has been doing lots of work over the past 18 months to look at both the content of our courses and how they are delivered.
To help next generation of public servants to be confident to deal with the dizzying array of challenges we face. Our relatively new integrity executive leadership program is a great example of very practical, applied content focused on helping public sector managers and boards prepare for the very real integrity and ethical challenges our organisations face.
Our members have also told us that they want IPAA Victoria to be an inclusive forum for those who are passionate about the public sector and public purpose to discuss the issues and challenges of the day and advocate for their peers. This is vital – because we are all leading what feels like ever busier professional lives - and who else can we trust to help us stay abreast of emerging trends and advances in new practices and technologies?
It is clear to me how important our members have been in the growth of the Institute over the decades and its place in and impact on the public sector in Victoria. Just as previous presidents of IPAA Victoria did for me, I am very committed to how IPAA Victoria better helps to connect and build the capability of younger people and how we can harness their passion for public administration and public purpose and ignite their contribution to the greater good.
I want IPAA Victoria to offer a safe platform for people at all stages of their career, and from across the rich tapestry the public purpose sector, to add their voice to the content of our courses and our thought leadership.
This is edited extract of a speech given by IPAA Victoria President Kym Peake (and Secretary Department of Health and Human Services) at IPAA Victoria’s 90th anniversary celebration on Thursday 20 June 2019.