23 Aug 2012:
The 2012 State of Australian Public Affairs series: Going the distance
Written By: George Onisiforou
Over the next few weeks we will highlight key insights from our recently completed State of Australian Public Affairs research. It is the eighth of its kind undertaken by Centre staff spanning a period of 20 years.
The 2012 research found that the scope of activities currently undertaken by the function in Australia has increased. This is particularly evident with social media, where 38 per cent of respondents reported this had been added to their responsibilities in the past three years. We note that there were few removals of public affairs activities in the past three years. Further, the allocation of budget to consultants has dropped to 9 per cent of the public affairs budget compared to 2009.
These results suggest that functions are doing more work in-house. However, their staff numbers have remained unchanged or have slightly increased since 2009. For many organisations headcount pressure against the volume of work remains a key challenge.
Our 2012 research has found also that the function continues to integrate, with particular movement in government relations and internal communications. There has been an improvement in functional representation on senior management committees and direct reporting lines to the CEO. Public affairs leaders and their staff are more academically qualified than ever.
These results show that the function has come a long away since the early 1990s, with increasing maturity and recognition of its strategic value in large and complex organisations.