The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is a frontrunner amongst NSW Government agencies in experimenting with a human centred design approach to policymaking and regulatory reform.
Driven by a desire to deliver better customer outcomes, DPI set out to test how design thinking could help define a policy problem more accurately, keep customers at the heart of the development process, and usefully inform how policy is made in the future.
The first policy problem to be selected for testing was the regulation of commercial bee keeping sites on public lands. ‘Project Hive’ was launched and run as a collaboration between DPI’s Innovation Team and the Office of the Small Business Commissioner (OSBC).
Pollination services support 65% of agricultural production in Australia and contribute billions of dollars to the agricultural sector each year. But commercial beekeepers are facing big challenges. These include biosecurity threats from pests and diseases, urban development, crop sprays and the demise of certain species of timber and flowering plants.
Adding to these pressures, commercial beekeepers have to deal with three different government agencies that currently manage public beekeeping sites: Forestry Corp, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Local Land Services. Each agency has its own systems of administration, permit allocation, tenure and conditions. This makes for a heavy administrative burden for beekeepers, and as the team discovered, was a barrier to entry for new and smaller players.
The project kicked off with, and centred on, a series of one-on-one interviews with commercial beekeepers across NSW.
Insights from more than 30 interviews were synthesized and distilled, and needs and pain points identified. The team ideated to come up with potential solutions to these needs, and built quick prototypes to test them with the beekeepers. The range of solutions was then narrowed down and refined.
The team found that design thinking enabled a truly customer-centric approach to policy making that allowed them to prioritise stakeholder engagement at each stage. The resulting policy was better tailored to customer needs, offered higher value, and met with greater acceptance. They particularly called out the collaborative and creative parts of the process that gave rise to new solutions that they may not otherwise have considered.
Following the initial policy work, three ideas have been taken forward for further testing and development into digital format. One is a mechanism to encourage beekeepers to lend and borrow their sites more often. DPI anticipates that this will increase access to sites that are underutilized, improve collaboration amongst beekeepers and strengthen industry networks.
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