New year, new Victorian Machinery of Government

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Last year’s election has led to some Victorian Government changes. The new Machinery of Government may affect how you do business with Government in 2019.

As each new year begins, we talk to our industry clients about the importance of reviewing and refreshing their government engagement strategies or account plans.

In-train opportunities from the past year will usually continue to exist, but there’s a chance the contact people or the policy context may have changed. There may also be wider, structural changes to take into account. (Victorian Government changes occur often enough to make a review worthwhile.)

Victorian Government changes

Since the November 2018 state election, the Victorian Government has effected considerable change to its Machinery of Government, or MoG. The MoG refers to the interconnected structures and processes of government, such as the functions and accountability of departments in the executive branch of government. MoG changes thus refer to changes to the structures and functions of departments and agencies.

Recently, there have been changes to the structure and responsibility of some Departments, the creation of two new Departments, the removal of another, and changes to key personnel. The government’s policy agenda has also changed and the social agenda grown.

For a government engagement strategy to be successful it must be targeted. That is, businesses must be speaking to the right people about the right needs, within the right context. This means you need to keep up to date with Victorian Government changes to maximise the effectiveness of your engagements with Government — and ensure you open the right doors.

So, what’s changed for 2019?

Below we’ll go through changes in functions and portfolios after the MoG reorganisation, and introduce the two new Victorian Government Departments. But first, after the Victorian Government changes, the list of Departments is as follows:

  • Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF)
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
  • Department of Education and Training (DET)
  • Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) [new name]
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
  • Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) [new]
  • Department of Transport (DT) [new]

NOTE: The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) is no more. Its functions have been divided between other departments, including the two new departments, as outlined below.

Department of Treasury and Finance

The only change to the DTF is the creation of a new agency. The Victorian Economic Development Agency has responsibility for two functions previously the responsibility of DEDJTR:

  • Economic Development Strategic Projects, and
  • Invest Victoria.

Department of Premier and Cabinet

Newly created agency: Mental Health Royal Commission Secretariat

Inherited:

  • Industrial Relations Victoria from DEDJTR
  • Office for Women from DHHS, and
  • Office for Youth from DHHS.

Created an intergovernmental strategic role looking at common processes across Government departments

Department of Health and Human Services

Inherited from DET:

  • Maternal and child health and parenting services, and
  • Supported playgroups.

Department of Education and Training

DET has no change to structure or name and no new functions.

Acting Secretary is Jenny Atta (formerly Deputy Secretary at DET), after long-standing Secretary Gill Calister stepped down from the role.

Department of Justice and Community Safety

This is the new name for the former Department of Justice and Regulation (DJR). DJCS also inherited the Worksafe policy from DTF.

Rebecca Falkingham has been appointed as Secretary (formerly Deputy Secretary at DPC). The former long-standing Secretary, Greg Wilson, will move to DPC to head the newly created Mental Health Royal Commission Secretariat.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

DELWP inherited ‘Solar Homes’ from Sustainability Victoria (an agency of DELWP).

Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

The newly created DJPR includes:

  • Sport & Recreation Victoria (from the former DJR)
  • Office of Racing (from the former DJR)
  • Priority Precincts Authority (think LaTrobe Valley)
  • Office for Suburban Development (from DELWP)

DJPR also takes on the former DEDJTR functions of:

  • Creative Victoria
  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Jobs and Innovation, and
  • Business engagement, including Business Victoria.

DJPR has a new division focused on social and economic inclusion, including Aboriginal economic development.

Simon Phemister (formerly Deputy Secretary at DPC) has been appointed Secretary. The former long-standing Secretary of DEDJTR, Richard Bolt, has stepped down from the role.

Department of Transport

The newly created Department of Transport includes:

  • Transport functions that were previously within the Transport Division of DEDJTR
  • Transport entities
  • Transport Accident Commission Policy (from DTF).

Acting Secretary is Corey Hannett (formerly Coordinator General).

Deputy Secretary changes

Deputy Secretaries of each department typically have responsibility for the delivery of activities under a whole portfolio (think agriculture, mental health, innovation, etc). They are key contacts for businesses seeking to engagement with government, as they also have an appropriate level of authority and understanding of business context. ‘Dep Secs’ tend to be the people you want to meet with.

There are too many changes to Deputy Secretaries across all departments to mention in this post. We strongly recommend you review the organisational charts for each department, so that you are acquainted with new roles and changes.

Also, don’t forget that most people do business based on relationships. Just because a key contact may have left a role that holds significance to your organisation doesn’t mean you need to lose contact. Reach out, have a coffee, and maintain the relationship.

Policy

The Victorian Government set out a clear policy agenda in its budget statement for 2018/19. This agenda has not fundamentally changed, but has focused more sharply around priority precincts, regional development and social and economic inclusion. Other budget priorities, such as Mental Health, have taken the form of a Royal Commission.

Social policies continue to have prominence in the Victorian Government, with new divisions in DJPR and DPC dedicated to social inclusion and social policies such as aboriginal affairs, multicultural affairs, youth, women and veterans. The delivery of the government’s social agenda through procurement will also continue to gain prominence. (See our post on the Social Procurement Policy.)

Transport and infrastructure continue to be a focus for the Government and the combination of transport agencies and transport policies under the one focused department is the right move. An entity has also been established to look into autonomous and low emission vehicles. This will be headed up by Tony Bates, previously lead Deputy Secretary for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections at DJR.

Finally, given the large number of infrastructure and road projects on the go, the Government is also looking to gain greater efficiencies in how these are delivered. The Chief Engineer within the Office of Projects Victoria (DTF) is soon to launch a Digital Asset Framework, seeking a consistent and unified approach toward the implementation of digital engineering across the Government.

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