Over the past fifteen years or more, the Tasmanian Health and Human Services
sector has seen a number of attempts to move towards more consultative
policy-making arrangements between the government and non-government
sectors. There have been a number of steps taken to move both sectors towards
partnership-style arrangements (Alessandrini & Ryan 1998; Ryan 1999).
This paper examines the case of the health and human services sector in
Tasmania, using the partnership process of ‘Changing Relationships’ to begin
exploring the experiences of workers in both the government and non-government
sectors. In doing so, it illustrates the challenges and opportunities both sectors
have faced in working towards a partnership arrangement. Perhaps more
significantly, this paper also bridges the gap between the breadth of theoretical
literature on consultation in policy-making and the limited applied investigation
of these issues. It shows a changed process in Tasmania, in which policy-making
has become more multi-faceted, with higher levels of trust, reciprocity and
friendship between workers in both sectors. However, there remain a number of
barriers to policy-making, including organisational memory and a commitment
to consultation that is often emphasised more ‘in spirit’ .
Overall, notable barriers to policy-making have been observed by key
informants in both sectors. This paper discusses the lessons for Tasmania
but also findings that are applicable beyond the state. With policy processes
more often involving greater consultation and more interaction between the
government and non-government sectors, the findings and challenges outlined
in this paper are applicable to other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas.
Public policy; Tasmania; non-government sector; Changing Relationships;