Developing a policy submission (Human Services Law)(the refugee policy in Australia) custom essay

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Assessment task

Developing a policy submission is an important skill for human services practitioners who wish to participate effectively in the policy process. For this assessment item, students will select a topic or policy issue and develop a policy submission on the selected topic.

Further information in the below:

Developing a Policy Submission:

For this assessment item, students select a topic or policy issue and develop a policy submission on that topic.
Length: 3500 words
Total marks: out of 100
Weight: 50%


The purpose of this guide is to provide a framework for developing your policy submission. Developing a policy submission is a fundamental skill for social workers and human services professionals who wish to participate effectively in policy processes. These notes provide further guidelines for your assessment task and discuss generally the issues involved in developing a policy submission and associated strategy.

What is a policy submission?

A policy submission is defined here as a policy document prepared by an individual or an organisation with the specific intention of influencing the course of action of other participants in policy processes. A submission should always be conceptualised as part of a broader strategy designed to influence policy processes and outcomes.

Social workers and human services workers are frequently called upon to write and present submissions. In both the non-government and government sectors, policy submissions are one of the principal means through which organisations attempt to influence policy. Skills in submission writing and presentation are widely perceived as core professional skills.

It is useful to view the making of submissions as both “product” and “process”. It is “product” in the sense that it typically involves the production of a document – “the submission”. It is “process” in the sense that the document itself does not stand alone. “Making a submission” involves a range of processes designed to influence policy and maximise the likely effectiveness of the written document. In your assessment task, you are asked to focus on the submission as product.

It is also useful to distinguish amongst a number of different kinds of submissions:

• Submissions can be verbal or written, or a combination of both. All submissions involve text of some kind, although this is not always written. Submissions are often made in both written and verbal forms e.g. when making a submission to a committee of inquiry. Sometimes verbal submissions are included in the transcript of inquiries, so the distinction between verbal and written may sometimes be blurred. For purposes of this assignment, you are asked to prepare a written submission.

• Submissions can be pro-active or reactive. Proactive submissions involve an initiative being taken by an organisation or individual wishing to exert influence. Reactive submissions are those made in response to a request for submissions by a decision-maker of some kind. Similar principles apply to both forms, but there are also specific considerations that apply to each type. For purposes of this assignment, your submission can be of either type.

• Policy submissions may be relatively formal or informal. A formal submission can be thought of as a document that follows a formal submission format, such as that suggested later in these guidelines. But a submission may also be far less formal or may take a different format altogether e.g. a submission can take the form of a letter, a memo, a petition or seen in a newspaper item (e.g. an “open” letter to the Department of X). For purposes of this assignment, a formal submission is required.

• It is also useful to distinguish between policy and funding submissions. A funding submission involves a request to a funding body to obtain resources for a particular project or activity. A funding submission can be thought of a type of policy submission i.e. it is attempting to influence the allocation of resources. Most policy submissions require some consideration of funding and financial implications, and related resource issues. However, for purposes of this assignment you are requested not to write a submission for funding, unless broader policy issues are involved, in which case they should be the focus of the assignment.

• Policy submissions may relate to the various stages of the policy process. They may relate to the development or implementation of policy. For purposes of this assignment, your proposal must deal with the implementation issues associated with your proposal (ie. How will the proposal be implemented, by whom, etc)?

Policy submissions can be made in many different contexts, reflecting the diversity of policy processes. Human services workers in government may be developing policy options for government, or advising government of the implications of various approaches to policy problems. For the purposes of this assignment, assume you are outside government, rather than from inside the decision making system. Some of the more common contexts in which human service workers and organisations make such policy submissions are:

• In response to an invitation to take part in a consultative process about a policy issue, for example the recent review of Queensland guardianship laws by the Queensland Law Reform Commission.
(See for further details).
• In response to an inquiry by a government body into a policy issue, for example the recently-completed public inquiry into a long-term disability care and support scheme by the Productivity Commission.
(See for details about this Inquiry and for submissions made to the Inquiry, a number of which can be viewed on-line as examples of this type of policy submission).
• In response to a request for staff within an organisation or sector to express their views or make suggestions about how a policy issue might be addressed.
• As part of a budget process at State or Commonwealth level, expressing views about what funding levels and directions should be (see for example the last budget submission to the Commonwealth Government by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) at
• In response to an issue or concern arising out of the organisation’s or individual’s work, bringing this concern to the attention of decision-makers or others able to exert influence or pressure in the policy process (see for example various proposals for policy reform proposed by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence in Victoria at

• As part of a process of protest about some action or policy direction, seeking change or amendment to the decision that has been taken.
• As part of a policy process within a peak body, union, political party or pressure group, arguing that the organisation take a particular stance on a policy matter.

For purposes of the assignment, any of these or similar contexts can be chosen. It is a requirement to select a real context relating to a current or recent policy process or situation. If in doubt about your proposed topic, discuss the issue with your tutor.

The processes involved in developing a policy submission

The process of developing submission can be conceptualised as having five elements:

1. Analysis of your location and role in the policy process
2. Assessment and analysis of the policy field
3. Development of your policy position and arguments
4. Understanding the perspective of the decision-maker
5. Preparing the written submission

Each of these are considered below

1. Analysis of your location and role in the policy process

Every policy submission is made either by an organisation or an individual. So one of your first tasks is to consider in your assignment is “who is initiating the submission?” Are you making the submission as a private citizen, as a member of an organisation, as a professional, as a group of citizens, as an organisation, or what? While this choice is up to you, it is important that you consider the implications of the choice you make, and take account of these in your submission and strategy. Some important considerations are:

• What is the basis of our involvement in this policy process? What is our legitimate interest in this policy issue? How can we emphasise our credibility and legitimacy?
• Why exactly are we taking part in this process? What is the distinctive nature of our involvement? How are our interests affected? What key value questions are raised for us?
• What exactly are we hoping to achieve by becoming involved in this policy issue? What do we hope to get out of making a submission? Is there a particular decision we wish to influence, a budgetary outcome we wish to achieve, a particular policy stance or statement we wish to influence? Are we looking for other secondary outcomes, such as enhancing our visibility and credibility? What will we consider a successful “outcome” to be?
• How influential are we likely to be? Is our involvement largely symbolic, or do we really think we can make a difference? How will the choice of who the submission comes from, influence its likelihood of being taken seriously? What are the political resources of the organisation making the submission (numbers, networks, money, status, credibility, etc)?

2. Assessment and analysis of the policy field

The next task is to review your understanding of the policy context. The quality of your submission will depend to some considerable degree on your understanding of the nature of the policy field. This is one reason why we have set you the task of understanding the policy field prior to developing your submission. Your understanding of the policy field will influence your choice of issue on which to make a submission, and your policy position.

Some important questions about understanding the policy field that directly relate to the process of developing your submission are:

• What is the problem you are trying to solve? How you conceptualise the problem has implications for the types of solutions you propose.
• What are the unmet needs in this policy field?
• What are some of the key goals, values and objectives that are at stake?
• What is impacting on the policy field (political, economic, historical, social, cultural factors?
• Who are the key participants in this policy field? What are their views and are they likely to be supportive or oppositional to our perspective? How might this affect our submission?

3. Development of your policy position and arguments

At this point we assume that you have a clear idea both of who you are for purposes of the submission, and of the policy field in which you are operating. The next task is to decide what you are going to propose in your submission and what arguments you are going to use.

The issue of what you are going to propose will depend on the context of your submission and your understanding of the policy field. You might be calling for an amendment to legislation, the abolition of a program, an increase in program funding, a change of emphasis in the policy, a change in funding method or service delivery, etc.

Equally important is the issue of what arguments to use and how to frame your submission. It is essential to consider not only what to say, but also how to say it.

Key points to consider are:

• Proposals should be presented in such a way as to maximise their appeal to the decision-makers and policy participants to whom they are addressed, as well as reflecting the values, interests and concerns of the individuals or organisations making the submission.
• Proposals need to be made as robust as possible in the light of potential criticism.
• Care must be taken in the use of language – do you use “yours” or “theirs”?
• Proposals should consider and be sensitive to the circumstances, expectations and aspirations of those to whom the submission is addressed.
• Submissions should take account, and often directly address, the three “key criteria” against which proposals are often addressed in policy processes, namely,

► legitimacy i.e. is this an issue which those to whom the submission is addressed feel they should be concerned?
► feasibility i.e. is this an issue that those to whom the submission is addressed feel can be addressed and dealt with (economic, administrative, political)
► support i.e. do those to whom the submission is addressed feel that this is a proposal on which they will receive widespread support and minimum opposition?

• Proposals should be supported with appropriate research and information, preferably from an authoritative source.
• Consideration should be made to how the submission relates to the ideology of those to who it is addressed. Can it be made congruent with their ideology, at least to some degree, without losing the integrity of the proposal?

The above points assume that the intention is to maximise the chance of the success of the submission. Of course, if the main goal of the submission is not to achieve a change, but rather to make a protest or to make a symbolic statement of some kind, then a different set of considerations will apply.

4. Understanding the perspective of the decision-maker

The points listed in section 3 above are all related to the need to understand and be sensitive to the values and interests of the person or organisation to whom the submission is addressed. It has been suggested by one analyst that “amongst the questions that human beings who are also decision-makers have been known to ponder as they make choices amongst policies” are the following:

• Can I get away with the policy? If not, what can I get away with?
• Will this idea really work? IF I cannot get assurances in this regard, will it at least appear to work so that I can at least get credit for addressing the issue?
• Will the policy make me look good?
• Will the policy give me maximum flexibility in case I have to reverse or modify it?
• Will adoption of this policy put my job in jeopardy? If yes, will it nonetheless improve my chances for a better job elsewhere?
• Is the policy supportive of my own personal basic goals and ideals? Does it do damage to any of them?

5. Preparing the written submission

All of the considerations noted in sections 1-4 should inform the writing of the submission. In this section we consider the format of the submission and some hints relating to the submission itself.

There is no one standard or correct format for a policy submission. The submission should be clear, orderly, well-presented, well-argued and persuasive. Within this framework, a number of different formats are possible. One possible draft format is provided below. However, it is stressed that this is only a draft. Not all sections will necessarily be relevant in all contexts. It is up to you to decide which of these headings, or others, are relevant in the context of your submission.
Draft Format for a Submission

1. Title page
2. Summary and recommendations (perhaps including Table of Contents)
3. Identification of organisation, group or individual
4. General purpose or goal
5. Specific objectives
6. Nature of problem
7. Background/history
8. Key issues (pro/con)
9. Implications (financial, organisational, technical, political, etc.)
10. Conclusions
11. Recommendations
12. References and bibliography
13. Appendices (if absolute necessary)

Some additional hints in relation to the written submission are:

• A submission is not the same as an essay. The style must be more direct and concise. The intention is to influence the decision-maker.
• The submission should reflect your broader understanding of the policy process, and specifically steps 1-4 above.
• The submission should have a clear objective i.e. the proposed course of action should be sufficiently clear to enable it to be understood and possibly adopted.
• The proposed actions must be within the capacity and authority of the organisation or individual to whom it is addressed, and must take account of any terms of reference.
• The submission must be as persuasive as possible, with careful attention being paid to language, the arguments being used, and the logic and cogency of the argument.
• The submission should clearly establish the credibility and image of the group making the submission (i.e. why should this group be listened to?)
• The submission should correctly state the name and title of the person or organisation to whom it is addressed, and should ensure the correct form of address is used.
• The submission should usually be accompanied by a covering letter that indicates its purpose, the “credibility” of the group, the organisation’s willingness to discuss the matters further, and any other relevant matters such as the confidentiality of any materials. It should be a short letter.
• The submission should usually have a title page indicating its title, to whom it is addressed, the name and address of the individual/organisation making the submission, and any other identifying information.
• It is often useful to have a Table of Contents and an executive summary of the submission and recommendations. This summary and recommendations is typically placed at the beginning of the submission.
• It is usually helpful to include headings, within a submission, to assist the recipient and any other readers to easily follow the argument being presented.
• If abbreviations or acronyms are used in the body of the submission, there should be a list of these following the table of contents.

Additional hints relating to your major assignment

These “hints” are designed to assist you in meeting the requirements of the policy submission assignment. They relate mainly to the format of your assignment, and complement the materials included elsewhere in this Course.

• Length of submission – 3500 words (not including executive summary, footnotes, appendices or bibliography/references).
• Carefully read the guidelines and expectations, paying particular attention to the assessment criteria for this assignment. Your assignment will be marked against these assessment criteria.
• While in a real submission it is usually a good idea to keep notes and references to a minimum, for this assignment you are required to use footnotes or endnotes to provide full referencing for the material contained in your submission. You should fully reference the source(s) of ideas, arguments and information that you are using. You may use these footnotes or endnotes to provide details of the background to the information provided in your submission, and thereby demonstrate the research process on which the submission is based. These footnotes/endnotes are not included in the word count for the submission.
• Similarly, in a real submission, a bibliography is not usually required, although it may be helpful. However, for this assignment you should reference all materials that you have used in any way in the preparation of the submission and strategy, whether they are included in the references or not. This should include materials on the policy process as well as materials directly related to your policy field and submission. Your bibliography should include the range of materials that you have read throughout the subject, insofar as they have had a bearing on the writing of your submission.
• Finally, do not leave the development of your submission to the last minute. Start work on it now. The submission should be viewed as the culmination of your work in the subject, building upon your earlier work in analysing the nature of policy processes and policy work.


I have asked the teacher about the topic of the refugee policy in Australia and the model of Sweden policy for refugee. He sent me the following email hoping that will clear more about my policy submission paper. In the below his reply;

The topic of Australia’s refugee policy is a good one. However be careful not to write from the point of view of a solution rather than a problem. The most effective submission will argue that:

1. The refugee policy in Australia is not working for these reasons….

2. There are a range of possible options available to fix this problem.

3. The recommended option is the model used in Sweden, and it is the best way (better than the other available options) to fix the problem for these reasons…

In other words, you need to make a case for why the current arrangement is not working, and you also need to make a case for why the Swedish model is the best of the available options to fix this problem.

If you simply write that the Swedish model is great for these reasons and we should do the same here, then your submission won’t be considered (by government) because you haven’t established what the problem is that needs fixing. It might sound obvious (you might think that of course there is a problem), but everyone in this debate will define the problem differently (eg. it’s a human rights problem versus a border protection problem).

I hope this helps.

In regard to sources, I sent some document found in my uni website and google attached in this order. Also here are some useful website to have look at.

Refugee Council of Australia.

Refugee Council of Australia. 2000. “Alternatives to Detention: The Swedish Model of Detention.” In Website. “Current Issues.” Page last updated 8 November 2000.

Mitchell, Grant. 2001. Asylum Seekers in Sweden: An integrated approach to reception, detention, determination, integration and return. Asylum Seeker Project-Hotham Mission. 2001

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Website. “Detention Services Provider Contract.” Australian Government.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Website. “Managing Australia’s Borders: Detention Services.” Australian Government.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Website. “The Immigration Detention Advisory Group (IDAG).”
Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Australian Government.

If you have another sources which are useful please include them as well.

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