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Public information and parliamentary research

The Procedure and Research Section helps raise awareness of the role and work of the Senate by coordinating a range of public information activities and producing publications and exhibitions.

Seminars, training programs and lectures

During 2017–18, the section coordinated and delivered seminars and professional training programs for senators’ staff, parliamentary staff, public service officers and others, and a series of lectures for the general public.

Eleven seminars were offered to senators’ staff to provide specialised training about the operations and procedures of the Senate and its committees. Staff training seminars were well attended and anecdotal evidence indicates that the subject matter is appropriate and well received.

Twenty-seven seminars on aspects of Senate practice were provided for 575 public service officers. This was the fourth consecutive increase in both seminars and attendees since 2013–14. Staff from across the department contributed to the delivery of the seminar series which successfully met the learning objectives of those participating. Evaluation surveys of participants indicated that 92 per cent considered that their learning objectives had been fully met.

The section arranged seven public lectures during 2017–18 as part of the department’s occasional lecture series on aspects of Australian governance and democracy, attended by approximately 631 people. Lectures are generally live-streamed and are available ‘on demand’ on ParlView. There were 379 online views of the lectures in the reporting period. Transcripts of the lectures are made available on the Senate website. The department also convened the annual Harry Evans Lecture, commemorating the service of the longest serving Clerk of the Senate. The lecture was presented by Mr Bret Walker SC on 1 December 2017 with 86 people in attendance, and 110 people viewing online.

The Procedure and Research Section runs the Australian National Internships Program in partnership with the Department of the House of Representatives and the Australian National University. Twenty-six students were placed with senators and members in semester two 2017 and 41 in semester one 2018.

Publications, exhibitions and conferences

The section continued to produce publications and exhibitions with a focus on the work and role of the Senate and its committees and the operations of the Parliament. In particular, two editions of the department’s journal, Papers on Parliament, were edited and published during 2017–18.