DOING A LOT WITH VERY LITTLE: A HIGH IMPACT YEAR OF PUBLIC POLICY PROJECTS


As the year comes to a close, Australia21 is proud to release our 2016-17 Annual Report. We did a lot with very little over the period, running nationally significant projects, boosting our profile and calibrating the goals that will keep us powering through 2017-2018.

Goal 1: Our research and expertise informs and drives public debate and policy change

In 2016-17 we ran the equivalent of 7.5 major projects; we appointed a specialist communications expert to the Board and contracted her to ensure our research informs and drives public policy debate; our research received at least 26 mentions in the media and our website and social media reach and engagement increased significantly.

Goal 2: Australia21 is a strong, trusted and dynamic organisation with the personnel and funding to continue to contribute to the public good

In 2016-17, our Risk and Compliance committee reviewed our risks and ensured our strategic plan was up to date. Funding bodies and organisations seeking our services committed to providing $111,500 across 2016-17 and 2017-18 for projects and administrative costs. We ran a successful end of financial year donations drive, raising $26,605 in public donations.

Goal 3: We engage with young people and enable their voice to be heard

In 2016-17, we restructured our part time paid office position to allow for better focus on engagement with young people and the general community. We started a consultation project with young people about the future and work. We also worked with school students to refine our Smarter About Drugs initiatives.


The Annual Report gives a concise overview of our work, so take a look to find out more about Australia21 and our aims and activities.

Here’s a summary of what happened at the project level in 2016-17:

  • We built on the outcomes of Australia21’s forum, Mindfulness, Empathy and Compassion: The Building Blocks of a Mindful Nation, held at the University of Melbourne in June 2016, with Board member Dr Lynne Reeder establishing the Mindful Futures Network to provide a national space for Australians investigating the organisational and societal benefits of mindfulness, empathy and compassion.

  • In September 2016, Dame Marie Bashir launched the Australia21/FearLess essay volume on trauma-related stress in Australia. Following that, Director Emeritus Mick Palmer organised funding from the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police and Northern Territory Police to enable us to convene a Roundtable of first responders at AFP Headquarters in early May. The writing up of the report, in consultation with participants, is at an advanced stage and we are hoping to launch the report early in the new year.

  • In November 2016 we held a Roundtable on algal farming and released the report at Parliament House in Canberra this August.

  • The March 2017 launch of the report from our third illicit drugs Roundtable received widespread public and media coverage, prompting an important conversation about the need for drug law reform. Roundtable convenor, former AFP Commissioner Mick Palmer, launched the report with former NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr and former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett.

  • With YoungA21 and the Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation (ALDAF) we tested and released Smarter About Drugs: A conversation pack, and supported the drug awareness program at Cowandilla Primary School in South Australia. We very much appreciate the cooperation and collaboration we have received from ALDAF, Cowandilla Primary and Star of the Sea College in Melbourne, on this important but sensitive project.

  • Also with YoungA21, we started a project looking at the future of work from the perspective of young people. Making our Future Work will provide new insights for policy makers by talking directly to young people about how they feel about the future and work.

  • We started discussions for a new project canvassing possible solutions to growing inequality in Australia, following from our 2014 inequality roundtable and report; we are looking for an opportunity to contribute to discussions about existential threats; and we have under consideration a possible new project on the psychology of attitudes towards complex socio-economic issues.

Get informed. Be heard. Shape the Future.

All our reports are available for free download and even though they’re grounded in specialist knowledge, they’re written for the general reader. The Latest News page on our website is also good for browsing information about our projects, while our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages are handy for keeping up to date on topical issues — and commenting about them yourself. In addition, you can follow YoungA21 and the Mindful Futures Network.


As our Chair, Paul Barratt, points out in the 2016-17 Annual Report, everyone has an opportunity to get involved in shaping a fair, sustainable and inclusive future for all Australians. So make the most of it!


“We firmly believe that Australian democracy works best when an informed citizenry engages with the political class on big issues of the day. So whether you agree with our analysis or not, do not hesitate to write to your local member and/or the relevant Minister(s) about the matters that are important to you. You may, as you no doubt assume, receive a pro forma reply, but politicians take careful note of the representations they receive from the public – the issues raised and the lines taken. As one who has spent many years in the public policy domain, I can assure you that the cumulative weight of the letters our politicians receive has an impact beyond the expectations of any one correspondent.”

Australia21 looks forward to once again showing leadership on important Australian issues in 2018.

Australia21 is an independent, not for profit think tank. We promote fair, sustainable and inclusive public policy through evidence-based research.

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