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ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Advanced policy writing

One-day short course


17th June 2015


ANU Crawford School of Public Policy


Paul Cleary



In this course at The Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy, you will learn writing techniques for producing engaging and effective policy documents that are well structured, compelling and easily understood.

Course overview


Few people seek advice on how to write well, even though this skill is critical for professional advancement and for organisations to run effectively. At this course, you will learn how to vastly improve skills for everyday writing and the delivery of high-level documents.

The course begins with a practical approach to understanding the basic elements of effective writing. It identifies the essence of clear, concise and compelling communication, while also alerting participants to the bad habits that many professionals have acquired over the years. The course adopts a forensic analysis to demonstrate the difference between poor and professional writing. It compares the writing style of three prominent politicians and categorises them in three important ways—The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This approach gives participants a series of ‘red flag’ alerts to ensure they write well.

In applying these skills to writing detailed policy work, the course explains how to start, structure and sustain any writing task, whether it be a two-page brief or a detailed policy paper. The course outlines techniques for preparation, time allocation, developing a coherent structure, and revision. At the end of the course participants will have insights and techniques to write like a true professional and produce written work of the highest professional standard.

While pitched at the advanced level, this course would be suitable for middle-level professionals and upwards who think their work and career progression would benefit from being able to produce better quality work.

Course convenor

Mr Paul Cleary

Paul has worked as a journalist for Australia’s major newspapers for the past 20 years and in recent years has written four highly-regarded books on history and public policy. He has twice been a finalist in the Walkley Awards for Journalism and his books have been short-listed for three major awards. He worked in the Canberra Press Gallery for a decade, reporting mainly on economic policy, and now divides his time between book writing and a senior role with The Australian newspaper based in Sydney. He has completed a PhD in public policy at ANU, focusing on the governance of mining in Australia and the outcomes for Indigenous communities. Outside journalism, he was an adviser to the Government of East Timor on oil sector governance and negotiation strategy. He is passionate about good writing and has run dozens of training courses on this subject for executives around Australia.

Course date: 9.30am–4.30pm 17 June 2015
Venue: #132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU
Cost: A$1,100 GST incl; Group discounts applicable

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