Igniting innovation in creative and cultural industries.

Mel Flanagan
Nov 20, 2016 · 10 min read

How NSW can activate creative workers to help design the new generation of government services.

This proposal was originally submitted to the NSW Government on 23 February 2016.

Call to Action

The NSW Government should establish a Creative Services Procurement Scheme to make it easier for people in government to engage and collaborate with creative and cultural workers and SMEs.


There are over 220,000 creative workers in NSW. This makes NSW the number 1 state for creative workers, representing 40% of Australia’s total creative industry workforce. Of the 50,000 creative enterprises operating in NSW, 97% are small businesses.

The Concept

The NSW Government should make it easy for government staff to engage creative workers and small creative businesses in order to help drive innovation within Government. This will assist with the development of design and communications capabilities within government, and create new job opportunities and economic growth for the creative industries sector.


The NSW Government can create a Creative Services Scheme designed for the specific needs of creative and cultural enterprises. This will help government staff engage creative services, and encourage IT, digital and technology companies to collaborate with the creative service providers on government services.

The NSW Government Procurement Problem:

Current State

The NSW Government has two procurement lists, neither of which adequately provide for established and contemporary creative services. There is also a third list for a Contingent Workforce, however this is limited in its roles too, and not suitable for all circumstances and projects.

1. The Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) list — Advertising and Digital Communications Services

This list is managed by DPC Strategic Communications. There are two ‘closed’ panels of service providers for marketing, advertising, or public relations and ‘brand’ campaigns. Service providers have a two-year tenure. The panel will be reviewed in 2018.

2. The Department of Finance, Services, and Innovation — ICT Services Catalogue

This is an ‘open list’ of 2000 + suppliers. The open list is better than a closed list, however, the categories in this scheme are traditional ICT services. Some design and research skills are listed but do not reflect contemporary roles or language.

3. The Contingent Workforce List

This ‘list’ is comprehensive and does allow for some creative workers — but the contracts are not suited to all project work or hiring scenarios.

Opportunity: National Leadership

There is a consistent lack of recognition for creative services across all Australian governments.

Opportunity: Set a Standard for Global Best Practices

NSW and Australia are not alone. The European Union has stated:

NSW’s Legacy

NSW has been progressive in its procurement reform. The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) acknowledges that NSW is the current national leader in simplifying its procurement processes and contracts.

What the Creative Services Scheme Will Deliver

A Creative Services Scheme will provide a valuable pilot to test innovation and reform of the procurement process in Government. It should foster opportunities for SMEs to work with government by complementing the ICT (DFSI) and Advertising and Digital Communications (DPC) Schemes.

What Are Creative Services?

Creative services are more than marketing and advertising. Not everyone is ‘selling’ something.

What Next?

Developing a Creative Services Scheme will require clarification of roles, the types of contracts required, and discussions and education about copyright, creative commons licences and intellectual property.

Why do I care?

I’ve worked in the arts, creative and cultural industries for 30 years. Nurturing ideas, promoting industry, professional development, and ensuring the wellbeing of workers has been a key aspect and responsibility in my role as an independent producer and executive with local and international creative companies.

Thanks to Sasha Abram.

Mel Flanagan

Written by

storyteller, content wrangler, product & service designer, maker of open government tools. http://www.nookstudios.com