A National Perspective – EP#1: Leading Victoria – From Crisis to Recovery – with Chris Eccles

The ‘Work with Purpose – A National Perspective’ podcast explores the way public services across Australia have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, and examines some of the adaptations to public administration that may occur during the recovery phase.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the ability of Australian governments to respond effectively in a rapid, coordinated, and collaborative way.

In Victoria, the public service moved quickly: an incident management team was formed within the Health Department in late January, and by the first week in March an Emergency State Control Centre had been activated and a pandemic plan released.

On March 15, the National Cabinet formed and met, and the following day a state of emergency was declared in Victoria. From that moment the Victorian Public Service has been sprinting — the impact on service delivery was immediate, wholesale, and profound.

In this, the first episode of Work with Purpose — A National Perspective, IPAA’s National President Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM, sits down with the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet Chris Eccles AO.

Discussed in this episode:

  • how the pandemic emerged and the impact on service delivery
  • how the public service has adapted its engagement through a deep understanding of client experience
  • how Victoria developed its data-driven response
  • how new missions have given the public service moral purpose and enabled ‘crash through’ of conventional portfolio structures
  • the benefits and challenges of having 80% of staff working from home
  • the unparalleled level of collaboration between ministerial offices and the public service.

Chris has been leading the Premier’s Department in that role since December 2014. Interestingly, before that he held the same role for both the New South Wales government (from 2011 to 2014) and the South Australian government (from 2009 to 2011).

Gordon has dedicated his career to the Australian Public Service where he held many senior leadership roles, most recently as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Energy. He also worked for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, the Reserve Bank, and the Australian National University.

As well as being IPAA’s National President, Gordon is an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University.