Domestic violence prevention, tackling education shortfalls in regional areas and post lockdown economic stimulus packages are all set to benefit from a new public policy partnership between universities and the government.
The James Martin Institute (JMI) has been established by the NSW Government in partnership with UTS, Sydney University and Western Sydney University to find solutions to complex public policy problems.
Verity Firth, a JMI UTS board member, said that government and university collaboration has never been more important.
“There are some really meaty, tricky public policy areas that governments need help with and who better to be a part of that policymaking process than universities,” Ms Firth told Central News.
“What the Institute is about is it’s trying to bring together researchers and government policymakers so that they can actually bounce off each other to create new solutions.”
Inaugural chief executive Libby Hackett has an ambitious vision for the Institute.
We want to have forums, summits, round tables and places where students can also contribute their thinking and ideas into these policy decisions as well.
“We’ll be building project teams that will have public policymakers, government and perhaps people from industry or community groups and academics all in together on a project team,” Ms Hackett said.
University students aren’t currently involved with the Institute, but Hackett anticipates that will change in the future.
“We want to be an open and democratic organisation, we’re non-partisan, we want to have forums, summits, round tables and places where students can also contribute their thinking and ideas into these policy decisions as well,” she said.
The Institute’s launch last week marked the culmination of a deal struck by Sydney University, Western Sydney University and UTS in 2019 after The NSW Government put forward a $10 million endowment fund.
Each university has committed $300,000 annually for the next five years. They will also provide in-time support for researchers when their expertise is needed.
We make no assumptions about the challenge we are taking on.
“The sorts of areas we imagine [we will work on] will be sustainability, the circular economy and how to have both growth and sustainability… health, diabetes, rural and regional outcomes, urban outcomes, the role of education in social mobility,” Ms Firth added.
“It is really about working together to focus on the things that government needs.”
The JMI is in the process of launching various projects tackling domestic violence, education shortfalls in regional areas and will also contribute to post lockdown economic stimulus packages.
The Institute is thought to be the first of its kind with a specific focus on bridging the gap between policymakers and academics. It was named after the 19th century NSW Premier and Chief Justice, James Martin – for whom Martin Place was also named.
“We would love to find ways to harness the ideas and the thinking of the wider democracy across NSW and make sure we’re bringing all kinds of ideas and voices into that public policymaking process,” Ms Hackett said.
“We make no assumptions about the challenge we are taking on.”
Main image of James Martin and Libby Hackett.