Department of Human Services

The longest journey starts with a single step. Making it a good one can set even the largest, most complex organisation on the path to excellence.


Health check

When the Commonwealth Department of Human Services (DHS) was known as the Department of Health and Family Services, several of its agencies merged.

To engineer the resulting cultural change, the DHS sought a review of its various divisions’ management training needs plus strategies to address them.

To these ends, it commissioned DeakinCo.

Intensive care

Our initial report gave an overview of the various divisions’ work and an analysis of the skills, knowledge and leadership attitudes required.

One of our short-term recommendations was to provide a weekend workshop program on issues in leadership, corporate governance and people management.

When the General Practitioners (GP) Division was chosen for a pilot program, we created the GP Division’s Leadership and Management Program.

The program’s project team comprised the DHS’ Divisions Management Advisory Group and Deakin University. Directors of GP divisions in all States gave advice and provided feedback on the program during its development, in group discussions, and at plenary sessions.

Of particular importance was the need for consistency in medical practice leadership. Our close relationship with the DHS during the program’s development ensured the relevance and currency of its content and the appropriateness of its methodology to the general practice culture.

The resulting two-day workshop program included keynote addresses and discussions on:

  • creating vision and strategy
  • providing effective leadership
  • corporate governance
  • organisational development
  • people management.

Fighting fit

More than 600 participants attended workshops across the nation. DeakinCo conducted evaluations immediately after the program and later to assess the learning’s applicability to the workplace. Data analysis confirmed high achievement of the program’s outcomes, with participants demonstrating increased awareness of:

  • corporate governance responsibilities of committees and executives
  • features of effective leadership
  • strategic issues for general practice and GP Divisions.
  • people skills, group decision-making, negotiation and effective team behaviour.

The DHS was delighted with the development process and program outcomes, both of which stemmed from our close relationship.