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  Alternatives Pty Ltd
  ABN 23 050 334 435

Points Covered

A. The Big Picture - Policy/Planning Days

B. Developing Individual Policies

C. Reviewing Policies

Contents | 1. Introduction | 2.Steps | 3.Table of contents | 4. Formats and examples | 5. Resources

2. Steps in writing polices


There are many ways of developing policy in human services. How policy is developed is effected by the size and type of the organisation and its philosophy.

Three processes that are commonly used in small community based organisations are:

  • The policy/planning/evaluation day (or weekend).
  • A consultative process for developing particular policies
  • A policy review process.

In larger organisations while similar processes will be at work they are likely to be more formalised, eg,

  • Standing Policy and Procedures Committee (s) for different areas
  • Forms Committee(s)
  • Recommendations and decisions passing through several levels of management.

A large organisation, for example a government department may have a much more complex process. See for example NSW Health Policy Development Guidelines.

The notes here on steps in writing polices are more appropriate for small community organisations.

A. The Big Picture - Policy/planning/evaluation day

The stakeholders in the organisation come together for a day and develop key organisation policies such as:

  • Mission
  • Organisational philosophy (including beliefs and commitments)
  • Aims, Objectives, Strategies
  • Determining priorities for policy development during the coming 12 months.

Tips: Involve all the stakeholders; get a facilitator, especially if there are big value differences between those participating; document and keep track of the content of the day; and have a good time.

B. A Consultative Process for Developing Particular Policies

The following process will be useful for developing particular policies. There will be many variations on the process to suit local circumstances and issues, for example client consultation could be included.

1. An area for policy development is identified

2. Staff or another group brainstorm the issues involved . (Tip - focus on naming the issues; don't necessarily attempt to resolve the issues)

3. One person prepares a draft (Tips: get copies of what others have written; use the most appropriate format; let the person with the best conceptualising and drafting skills do the drafting - this is not necessarily the coordinator, manager or other such person)

4. The draft is circulated for comment.

5. There may be a meeting to amend or revise the drat.(Tip: where there are major differences of view, name them, don't resolve them - the Board/Management Committee might be good for a major policy debate).

6. The draft may be recirculated for comment if necessary.

7. A cover sheet is prepared for the Board/Management Committee identifying the steps that were used in developing the draft policy).

8. Decision is made by the Board/Management Committee.

9. The policy is incorporated in the Policy and Procedures manual. (Tip: put in the date on which the policy was agreed; a sunset clause or a statement saying the date on which the policy must be reviewed).

10. The policy is communicated to all those who are relevant and when necessary training is provided to ensure all staff have the knowledge and skills to implement the policy.

C. Review

A staff meeting or a Board/Management Committee meeting once every 12 months to look at the organisational manual and ask whether the policy in it is still relevant and appropriate, etc. If not, a process like the one above would be followed to revise existing policy or develop new policy.

D. Organisational Dynamic

In a small organisation wanting to develop a organisational manual over a 12 to 18 month period a useful dynamic would be:

A) Devote time at a staff meeting at least once a month to brainstorm issues related to one area of policy and review the draft a policy that has been prepared based on a previous brainstorming.

B) At every Board/Management Committee meeting devote some time to reviewing a draft policy and making decisions on it.