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Okay, okay, we know – public policy can sound like a yawn. But it doesn’t have to send you to sleep, we promise! Here are some podcasts that will entertain you, make you think and maybe even learn a little this long weekend.


‘Public policy subjects with global and local experts.’

Hosted by Australia21’s own patron, Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis, The Policy Shop is a monthly podcast recently listed by iTunes in its coveted ‘New and Noteworthy’ category. It explores compelling issues in the context of policy choices, in episodes of 30-60 minutes.

‘The Policy Shop podcast examines Australian and global public policy challenges, digging deep to find the complexities and details in policy issues that may be missing from public debate.’

Recent Episodes

THE HIDDEN CRIME – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: In Australia an average of one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner. Why is violence against women still so prevalent? Literary scholar Professor Germaine Greer joins Mary Polis, former Chief Executive Officer of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence and Joanna Fletcher, CEO of Women’s Legal Service Victoria to discuss the issue of domestic violence in Australia and globally.

INNOVATING WITH INDUSTRY – WHAT IS NEXT?: A discussion of the challenges, solutions and opportunities in bringing universities and industry closer together.  Including Dr Megan Clark, former CEO of CSIRO, Jane Urquhart, Head of Science and Commercialisation Policy at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Chris Bennett, GM of Dolby Australia and Dr Joanna Batstone, Vice President and Lab Director, IBM Research, Australia.

WHAT IS A REFUGEE?: The number of displaced people in the world today is at its highest ever, surpassing even post World War II numbers – and Australia and other nations are grappling with this crisis. William Maley, Professor of Diplomacy at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University helps define the term and experience.


‘We spotlight bright ideas for how to improve human society.’

Ways & Means is American, but we love it anyway. It’s a tightly produced, fast moving show, usually 15 to 20 minutes long. It examines one intriguing topic per episode, with simple explanations and interesting interviews. Lots of relevance for Australian audiences, despite the US focus.

‘Ways & Means is a small radio show about surprising successes and spectacular failures in the art of creating successful neighborhoods, cities, states and countries. We are a show for people curious about the sprawling human laboratory we call democracy, who want to know how things really work, and why the most glamorous ideas about improving human society sometimes fail.’
Recent Episodes

FLIMFLAMS, SCAMS AND RIPOFFS: Why has fraud been a key feature of American business from the beginning? And why is it more urgent now than ever that to pay attention to the rules and regulations that policymakers are creating and taking away? Featuring John Rusnak, a Baltimore currency trader convicted of one of the largest bank frauds in American history, US $691 million.

CONCERNS ABOUT TEENS AND PHONES, UNWRAPPED: Ninety percent of adolescents in the US [and Australia!] now either own or can access a mobile phone with the internet. Teens look at screens eight hours a day; a quarter of teens say they are online almost constantly. This episode looks at seven major concerns parents have and whether they are justified.

CAN GOVERNMENT REALLY CHANGE?: One thing remains constant in our political discourse: talk of how much we need to change. Before every election, candidates make their pitch to voters, including a laundry list of things they promise to change. What gets in the way of change in government, and what do we need to know about ourselves to make something new work?

PLAIN ENGLISH ECONOMICS ‘We’ll bust some economic myths, interpret econobabble and help you sound really smart at your next dinner party.’ Or this will help you provoke an argument at that dinner party! The Australia Institute is often labelled left-leaning, so it’s no secret that these podcasts come from a point of view. But that shouldn’t deter anyone from listening to Follow the Money. Usually 10 to 20 minutes long.

‘The Institute is determined to push public debate beyond the simplistic question of whether markets or governments have all the answers, to more important questions: When does government need to intervene in the market? When should it stand back? And when regulation is needed, what form should it take?’

Recent Episodes

UNPACKING THE ENERGY DEBATE: Tackling the current energy debate, including the South Australian blackouts, the war on renewables, what Christmas prawns have to do with baseload power and why the way we heat water offends Chief Economist Richard Denniss.

CONSERVATIVES AND CLIMATE CHANGE WITH BOB INGLIS: Congressman for South Carolina Bob Inglis is a very rare bird indeed. He’s a real conservative – Christian, Southern, ‘small-government’, you name it. But his greatest passion is tackling climate change by convincing conservatives they can be leaders on this issue.

ECONOMIC MODELS: Economic models are like a lot of things in life: what you get out of them depends on what you put in. But therein lies the problem. When reporting focuses on the ‘findings’ without looking at what assumptions underpin politically influential economic models, it leaves us vulnerable to ‘econobabble’.

SPECIAL INTEREST ‘Conversations in the Margins: a comfortable space for uncomfortable topics.’ Fascinating insights into two taboo fields of research: blood borne viruses and drug use. These 30 to 40 minute long SpeakEasy episodes are very listenable conversations hosted by Annie Madden and Professor Carla Treloar, from the Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of New South Wales.

There’s also ExtraEasy, a short, sharp sister show featuring hot topics that have caught Annie Madden & Carla Treloar’s attention – about 15 minutes long. ExtraEasy covered the recent release of Australia21’s report calling for a more effective and safer response to illicit drugs. That report was launched by Bob Carr and Jeff Kennett. Listen here, to ExtraEasy Episode 2: Making waves in advocacy and research. ‘Annie Madden and Professor Carla Treloar have dedicated much of their lives to working in taboo fields of research: blood borne viruses and drug users. These two brilliant minds bring a wealth of expertise, knowledge and insight to real world subjects in SpeakEasy, holding engaging conversations with very special guests each episode.’ Recent Episodes WHEN TOO MUCH PSYCHE-TRANCE IS NEVER ENOUGH: Earlier this year Annie attended and volunteered at the Rainbow Serpent Festival – a major 5 day music festival in Western Victoria. Listen as Annie and Carla chat all things Rainbow Serpent including the power of community and the importance of harm reduction and pill testing. THE HARD IS WHAT MAKES IT GREAT: The newly crowned Dr Kari Lancaster talks about completing her PhD thesis: both the process and the content. Kari’s work, ‘Problematising the ‘evidence-based’ drug policy paradigm’ examines the nature of evidence in drug policy. PROMISE AND EVIDENCE-MAKING INTERVENTIONS: The awesome Tim Rhodes from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine talks about his work in Kenya, where he is using qualitative methods to explore the development of harm reduction initiatives, including the recent introduction of methadone assisted therapy.

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