Council has as one of its primary responsibilities the establishment of policy and procedural principles, and may at its discretion delegate this power to any officer, employee, board or committee of the University.

The Council approved policy on the development, approval and review of policies and procedures sets out policy areas for which approval authority:

  • has not been delegated by Council;
  • has been delegated by Council;
  • has been sub-delegated.

New or amended policies must be forwarded to Policy and Secretariat in the first instance for submission to the appropriate approval authority and should be accompanied by a briefing paper explaining the following matters:

  • context
  • need for the policy or amendment
  • key points or changes
  • details of the policy development consultation process
  • any consequential changes to other policies
  • any implications for/amendments to delegations of authority

Refer to policy development guidelines (below) for more information.

Guidelines for policy development and review

The following key points and tips are drawn from Policy without (much) pain: A guide to better practice in policy development and policy management in Australasian tertiary education institutions, © Association of Tertiary Education Management 2010 (1st edition) and 2013 (2nd edition).

1.  Need

  • Be sceptical of the need for a new policy; maybe an additional section could be added to an existing policy, or perhaps it could be more appropriately handled at the level of business practice or work instructions at the local level.
  • Seek Policy and Secretariat advice on any proposal to develop a new policy to ensure there is not an existing policy, or section of an existing policy, that already covers the issue.
  • Consider and consult on the needs of all Flinders’ campuses and offshore programs.
  • Consider any synergies in developing/reviewing related policies and procedures at the same time.

2.  Legal and governance issues

  • Familiarise yourself with the requirements of relevant national/state legislation and consult with relevant staff who specialise in compliance with that legislation;
  • Seek Policy and Secretariat advice to ensure the policy is consistent with the institution’s governing legislation and delegations framework and is sound in administrative law.

3.  Planning

  • Set a realistic timeframe, planning backward from approval dates (consult with Policy and Secretariat on the approval pathway);
  • A major policy development may require considerable resources, including a steering committee, stakeholder reference group, and implementation, communication and training/implementation plans;

4.  Research and benchmarking

  • Clarify the objectives and scope with relevant senior managers early on and get their views on alignment with strategic objectives;
  • Gather information from relevant operational managers about issues/concerns raised by staff about the activity addressed by the policy;
  • Identify and gather feedback on the existing range of practice within the university, such as any closely related policies and procedures, including local level procedures;
  • Ensure that key terms are consulted upon and defined at the outset (draw upon definitions in existing policies and procedures);
  • Seek promising models from other institutions;
  • Read national and international guidelines or standards and relevant legislation;
  • Collate the outcomes of your research in a spreadsheet, with hyperlinks and provide to all stakeholders.

5.  Consultation

  • Don't forget to consult with Policy and Secretariat about need;
  • Identify and consult with representatives from all stakeholder areas (don’t forget remote sites!);
  • Include members of the committees that will endorse the documents in the consultation group or steering committee - this will aid final approval;
  • Present the consultation group with a discussion paper setting out the current status of policy in the area, why the new policy or policy review is necessary and issues on which consultation is sought, including suggested solutions/options for discussion and feedback;
  • Include impact (on stakeholders, resources, etc) and implementation issues in the consultation process. For example, consider impacts for existing IT systems, forms/templates/guidelines that will be required, the target audience, training requirements and how the effectiveness of the new policy will be evaluated.  Contact other institutions that have introduced a similar policy and ask them about the experience;
  • Keep records of individuals and stakeholder groups that were consulted for inclusion in the briefing paper;
  • Good consultation should make policy implementation smoother.

6.  Drafting

  • Aim for content that is briefly, clearly and simply stated - a discursive, overly verbose style is not appropriate to achieve the aim of transmitting the principles and requirements of the policy as directly as possible;
  • Aim for a positive, enabling message, rather than one that is harsh and punitive;
  • Ask colleagues with good writing skills, or policy writing experience to critique drafts;

Policy Template

Establishment:
Authority and date (completed by Policy and Secretariat at publication)
Last Amended: Authority and date (completed by Policy and Secretariat at publication)
Nature of Amendment: Brief outline of key clause changes
Date Last Reviewed: Date
Responsible Officer: Senior officer (generally Director level or above) responsible for implementation and review of the policy

Purpose/Objectives

Scope (This policy/procedure applies to...)

Definitions (aim for consistency - draw upon definitions in existing policies and procedures)

Legislative framework (refer to relevant national/state legislation and relevant University legislation/Statute and source of delegation from which the decision-making authority in the area of activity derives)

Policy principles (include appropriate headings to aid readability)

Related documents/links - eg to local area web pages for more information, or to associated policies, guidelines and forms (the latter could also form appendices to the policy)

Appendices – e.g., to record delegations/sub-delegations made in accordance with the policy, or to provide policy detail such as minimum standards

7.  Review

  • Responsible Officers are required to ensure that policies and procedures for which they are responsible are reviewed on a regular basis;
  • Review refers both to review of the text, as well as review of practices governed by the text;
  • Review may take the form of a quick health-check that the policy is still meeting needs, with minor amendments to maintain currency;
  • More major review may involve a comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the policy and exploration of stakeholder experiences of the policy, and may include research and consultation similar to that required in developing a new policy;
  • Keep records of issues with the policy since implementation or last review to inform future review and amendment.

8.  Implementation, communication and training

The University's policy and procedures relating to Policy Development, Approval, Review and Publication includes requirements for the gazetting and publishing of PPM documents.

Communicate new/amended policies that have been approved by as many media as possible and take major new/amended policies 'on the road' by making presentations and/or holding workshops.

Be responsive to problems identified in the implementation phase and keep a record of issues that arise.  There is no shame in changing a policy quickly by putting an amendment through the approval process.

Consider holding an early post-implementation review to identify any fine-tuning that may be needed.

9.  Record Keeping

  • Maintain good records of the policy development, review and approval process
  • When a new or amended policy document is published in the Policies and Procedures Manual, Policy and Secretariat staff will catalogue the document to the Records Management System as the CURRENT VERSION.  Previous versions will be replaced but will remain accessible in the Records Management System.

 

NOTE:  Printed versions of this are not controlled.  For the latest version, please check the University's online policies and procedures manual.