POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

Subject Code & Title: POLI1066 Public Policy
Length: 800 words (not counting the reference list)
Weight: 20%
Assessment Overview : In Week 8, we will release three videos, each of which covers a key policy issue that in some way is controversial, divisive or the cause of debate amongst sections of the Australian community.
Each lecture will introduce an issue, its policy history, and some of the key issues at stake in the debate. The controversial policy issues we have chosen for S1 2021 are:
POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment - RMIT University Australia.

• Should we be obligated to Work for the Dole?
• Should Commercial Sex be Decriminalised in Victoria (the debate between the ‘decriminalising sex work approach and those who advocate for the Nordic Model)?
• Should We Build Better Prisons for young people or Reinvest in Justice in Victoria?

You will be required to select one of these debated issues as a focus for both of your final two assessments in POLI1066. The Key Issues Statement is the first, formative, assessment of these two assessments. The next and summative assessment is the Policy Position Paper.

In the Key Issues Statement, you are required to briefly describe the debate you have chosen,identify key stakeholder organisations on both ‘sides’ of the debate and then describe the key issues at stake in this debate, in other words, those issues that different ‘sides’ to the debate disagree over, and you are required to examine each of these issues from both ‘sides’ in the
debate, using evidence.

In developing your response, you are supported by the general information provided in the lecture for your chosen topic as well as the readings for that topic posted on Canvas. You may supplement this further with your own research as necessary and as you wish.

This assessment addresses the CLOs for POLI1066, focusing on CLOs 3 and 4. Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to:

1.Give an accurate account of what public policy is and how it affects our lives
2.Describe the general processes through which public policy is developed and implemented
3.Identify and analyse the ways in which different policy actors can enable and also limit the possibility of just and equitable policies
4.Apply policy analysis techniques to interpret and critique particular policies that relate to your professional field, and effectively present your findings

One reason for setting this assessment is to facilitate you applying and extending your public policy knowledge. Now you understand key policy terms and you are also familiar with policy as a site of advocacy, and also complexity and debate, with many competing interests and voices, this
assessment situates this in the ‘real world’.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

This assessment also requires that you explore a policy issue from different perspectives. All too often, in debates, we are asked to ‘pick a side’ and argue for it, or we are presented with only one side to an issue. Sometimes, and particularly in social media land, some stances in debates are
simplified or caricatured or their exponents ridiculed or ‘cancelled’. This assessment requires you to methodically and authentically consider both positions in key debates. It also requires you to consider the evidence for these perspectives.

Further, as noted, this assessment is designed as a formative assessment for the final Policy Position Paper, where you are required to choose and defend your own position. Completing this assessment will provide you with background and an understanding of the ‘policy landscape’ with respect to your chosen issue for your final assessment. It will also allow us to provide you with feedback on your topic and preliminary thinking before you embark on the final, summative, assessment.

This formative assessment is a clarifying exercise. In it, you are required to pick one of the above ‘policy debates’ and consider the nature of the debate, key stakeholder organisations and the ‘key issues’ at the centre of the debate from both sides. In approaching this assessment, you are thus
required to listen to all the lectures with a focus on the lecture that concerns your chosen policy debate (in other words, you may need to actively listen to the lecture for your chosen debate more than once and you are encouraged to do all the pauses for reflection and action, follow up all the resources and take good notes). You are advised to do the readings for your chosen debate that will be placed on Canvas. You may then research the topic more broadly.

The following components are necessary for your Key Issues Statement. An example different from the ones covered in the course is used here [The Richmond MSIC] for illustration purposes only. This topic cannot be used for your assessments.

1.A statement of your policy debate
My chosen debate is whether Victoria should extend the implementation of the Richmond Medically Supervised Injecting Centre [MSIC].

2.A brief but clear description of your chosen debate and identification of two (2) key stakeholder organisations on each ‘side’ of the debate (so, a total of four (4)) with a brief description of these and the position they take in the debate

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

Here, we are looking for focus on stakeholders who are organised (organisations and not individuals), who are actively engaged in the debate and who have taken a ‘side’. Some of these may be mentioned in the lecture or you may choose your own. Provide references and URLs in your reference list so your marker can look them up if necessary.

Description of the Debate: The debate about the Richmond MSIC concerns whether this facility should be part of the Victorian Government’s policy response to drug abuse as part of a harm-minimisation approach or whether this approach produces more harms for those engaging in drug use and/or communities.

Key Stakeholder Organisations who support the Richmond MSIC
Alcohol and Drug Foundation [ADF]: The ADF argues that MSICs in general reduce harm because they contain and manage the use of drugs

Turning Point: Turning Point argue that the research into drug addiction and treatment provides evidence that shows positive outcomes in terms of managing overdoses and saving lives

Key Stakeholder Organisations who oppose the Richmond
MSIC Residents’ Action Committee [MRAC]: The MRAC’s opposition to MSICs is based in their stance that its current location in Richmond is harmful and detrimental to local residents

Drug Free Australia [DFA]: This Peak Body representing ‘anti-drug’ voices in Australia argues that the Richmond MSIC has resulted in an increase in both addiction and over doses and thus more harm

The purpose of this first section of this assessment is to facilitate you clarifying what your chosen debate is about and who, in terms of stakeholders, are on either side of this, and their positions.Your marker will offer feedback on this, and, in their comments, tell you where you are on the right track as well as assist you with anything that may be inaccurate or unclear, thus enabling you to go forward in the Policy Position Paper with a good and clear understanding of the debate at hand.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment - RMIT University Australia.

3.Identification of Key Issues and exploration of these from both sides
You are required to select two (2) key issues that you wish to explore. A key issue in a debate is an issue that is central and over which there is disagreement between stakeholders and/or researchers. The example provided below of whether MSIC have positive health benefits for
people experiencing addictions is a key issue because stakeholders disagree, and researchers have provided evidence for both ‘sides.’ You are encouraged to use those key issues provided in the lecture, but you may reframe these or use your own (you are advised to consult with your tutor
before doing this). You are further required to describe these in your own words and then, using at least six (6) acceptable sources, provide a balanced account of these issues examined and evidenced from both ‘sides’ of the debate. You may use sources provided on Canvas or you may find your own sources. There is more information in Section Four about this.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

Key Issue One: Do MSIC have positive health benefits for people experiencing addictions?

The issue at stake here is whether MSIC produce positive health benefits (such as reduced deaths from overdoses), or whether they increase drug-taking behaviours and hence have negative health effects.

Those arguing for the Richmond MSIC, (or for the benefits of similar centres more generally,) claim that the research indicates that these centres have positive health benefits for those experiencing addictions. The most compelling evidence here comes from an independent review of the MSIC which found that there were no deaths from over doses at the centre and that 21-27 deaths may have been avoided, and that there were reductions in ambulance callouts for drug related issues and public reporting of drug using behaviours (Hamilton 2020, p. vii). Further, it was reported that the centre provided early detection of blood-borne diseases, allowing treatment of these (Hamilton 2020, p. xv), a finding echoed by an international study of similar facilities (Belackova etal. 2018). A systematic review of 47 different studies that considered the public health effects of using medically supervised drug-use spaces found that “consistent evidence demonstrates that [these facilities] mitigate overdose-related harms and unsafe drug
use behaviours, as well as facilitate uptake of addiction treatment and other health services among people who use drugs”

Some researchers arguing against, or sounding caution about, the Richmond MSIC or similar facilities, argue that studies considering the evidence often do so simplistically,leaving out issues such as population-level effects and longitudinal considerations that might see rises in drug taking behaviour or overdoses over time (see for example Caulkins et al. 2019). Others take a more oppositional approach, arguing that there are
clear negative health effects generated by such centres. A report from Drug Free Australia (Reece et al. 2020) analysed the evidence presented in the Hamilton Report and conducted its own statistical modelling. They found that “estimates of 21–27 deaths averted by the MSIR are based on indefensible and inept assumptions, most likely on bloated overdose figures” (Reece et al. 2020, p. 4). In contrast, the authors of this report
argued that by normalising rather than working to prevent drug use, increased experimentation and long-term health effects, including dependency and the on going risk of overdose, were a result

The purpose of this section of this assessment is to facilitate you in articulating and clarifying the key issues in the debate, exploring these from both ‘sides’, and finding and considering some initial evidence for the positions taken. Your marker, in providing feedback, will again comment on where you are on the right track, assist you with anything that may be unclear or inaccurate, identify any sources of evidence that are not acceptable, and generally give you some pointers for going forward
with the Policy Position Paper.

First, include links to your stakeholder organisations.
Second, list your other references. Remember that you are required to use at least six (6)acceptable policy sources in the Key Issues Section, and you are required to draw on these in framing and describing the different positions. You should, of course, also use references in earlier sections of your paper where necessary. As noted, there are resources on Canvas that include both stakeholder sources and academic research, or you may find your own, but do see Section Four of the Assessment Pack for some basic advice if doing this.

In your references section, list all the sources you used here in a Harvard or APA style. Your chosen style, does not matter as long as it is Harvard/APA and (not footnotes) and is clear, contains all the necessary elements and is neat and consistent.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment - RMIT University Australia.

a) What about the word limit?
It should be possible to do this assessment in the word limit set. If you are under the word limit, especially in the key issues section, it is highly likely that you have not said enough. Go back to the reading and think some more. If you are over the word limit, then this is not so much of a problem
but do think of your marker! Remember that this is a clarifying exercise only. You are laying out the debate and the key issues and not analysing or critiquing these. Try to keep your paper at or under 1000 words max and make sure that it is clear, coherent, is not repetitive and does not waffle or
contain material that is off topic or not relevant. Do not count the reference list in your word count.

b) Can I do my own research?
Yes, but make sure that it is relevant. See Section Four of this Assessment Pack for some basic advice.

c) Can I choose my own key issues?
Yes, but you are advised to use those set out in Part One of each topic’s lecture (or a reframing of these). If you choose your own make sure that they are key issues (issues that are central and over which there is disagreement between stakeholders and/or researchers) and not just
interesting facets of an issue at stake. For major reframing of issues or ones you have chosen yourself you are advised to contact your tutor.

d) Can I choose my own stakeholder organisations?
There are some stakeholders and/or hints about where to find stakeholder organisations given in each topic’s lecture in part Two. You may choose your own but do make sure that they are relevant to the debate at hand and take a position in it.

3.Required Template:
The following is a required template for this assessment. Following this template will ensure that you provide all the necessary elements for this assessment and in a logical and coherent way.Please cut and paste the template below and produce a new document for this assessment. Do
not submit the whole assessment pack with the template filled in.

Please note: this assessment is not an essay. You are not required to have an introduction and conclusion. Simply follow the template below.

4.Other Relevant Information:
If You Have an Equitable Learning Plan (ELP)
Depending on the advice in the plan you may be eligible for a longer extension than the standard week usually available or for other supports. If you have an ELP, please contact your tutor or Kathy to discuss as soon as possible. When doing so, please send details of your plan and be clear
about the adjustments you would like according to your plan.

Applying for an Extension:
Extension of time for assessment tasks (up to seven days) may be granted for all students where circumstances beyond your control prevent submission by the published due date. Please note that the special provision for COVID-19 extensions given in 2020 no longer exist. All of your
teaching staff are bound by RMIT policy in this respect, and we cannot grant you longer than a week.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment – RMIT University Australia.

POLI1066 Public Policy Assessment - RMIT University Australia.

Please contact your tutor or Kathy to discuss.

Generally, we encourage you to get your work done on time, because this way you will keep on top of assessments (extensions don’t make assessments disappear!), but, if you cannot do so for any reason, then please do request an extension rather than submitting late!

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