Policy Development and Approval Process

Policy development and approval process

Governance documents should only be created where there is a clear and justifiable need, with long-term application to the University. They should align with the University’s legislation and Strategic and Operational Plans, be consistent with legal requirement and community expectations and apply across the University.

To determine whether you need a policy, procedure or guideline will depend on what you want to achieve. A policy should be used to provide a framework or outline the University’s position on a particular matter through high-level statements of principle and intentions. A procedure should be used to articulate operational principles, rules or actions required to implement a policy, legislation or other authority or activity. If your aim is to provide information, you should consider developing a guideline or some other form of process text, such as web page content.

For assistance contact a Policy Officer at any stage of the policy development and approval process.

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Identification

It is important to identify why a Governance document is needed and what you are trying to achieve when considering the development of a new or review of an existing document.

  • Compliance with legislation, national standards, and/or best practice or new University activity.
  • Accurate reflection of changes in strategy or circumstance.
  • Adherence to Governance document review timetable.
  • Resolution of difficulties in implementing and interpreting Governance documents.
  • Correction of gaps identified in policy coverage.
Evaluation

Before you decide to develop a new Governance document you should:

  • examine existing Governance documents to see if they cover the issue identified or could be amended to cover the issue without adding to the overall Governance documentation portfolio
  • consider whether the proposed document impacts upon, or conflicts with, relevant legislation or other existing Governance documents
  • seek advice from a Policy Officer as to whether there are similar documents are already under development and who the key stakeholders across the University community may be.
Development

Before you start drafting your document, do some research or benchmarking and preliminary or targeted consultation with stakeholders to get an indication of content that may be required.

Research the relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation and regulatory requirements to ensure appropriate consultation, compliance and reflection in the document.

If you are amending an existing Governance document, you must request the most current version from a Policy Officer. Once the changes have been made to an existing document using the 'track changes' function in Microsoft Word, it should be resubmitted to the Policy and Delegations Unit for settlement.
Consultation

Consultation with stakeholders is an important and valuable part of the Governance document development or review process. Stakeholders are those individuals / groups who will be impacted such as staff members, students (or sub-sets of these), content experts, committees, unions and / or the wider University community.

Consultation may identify issues that you had not thought of and it will also alert the stakeholders to the pending introduction of a new or amended Governance document. Conflicting perspectives can often assist in identifying areas most affected by implementation across a variety of University contexts. Adequate and inclusive consultation will ensure that your Governance document is as accurate as possible and reflects best practice.

To further assist with consultation, a Policy Officer will post your draft to the website for a minimum period of two weeks, with feedback being directed to you. This will enable the University community to be more broadly consulted.
Quality Control

Quality control is the responsibility of the Policy and Delegations Unit and is part of the function of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. You should submit your draft Governance document to a Policy Officer for final settlement prior to you submitting your document for approval. The Policy and Delegations Unit are not content experts, however, they are conversant in most aspects of legislation and provide a University-wide perspective.

Quality control is designed to improve the rigor of Governance documentation; ensure that documents are compliant with legislation; robust enough to ensure acceptance by the University community and, where necessary, enforceable. It is also part of a process designed to add value by ensuring the documents are identifiable; maintaining a ‘look and feel’ in terms of branding, language, style and formatting.

Where a document is developed as a direct result of Commonwealth or Northern Territory Government legislation, a compliance check is made to ensure that it accurately reflects practices in the legislation for example the Privacy Act 1988, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

Please note: if at any time you consider a document displayed in the Governance Document Library to be inaccurate or outdated, please contact the Policy and Delegations Unit.
Records Management

To maintain standardisation and version control across the University, all University-wide documents are kept in the Governance Document Library, a repository maintained by the Policy and Delegations Unit.

As documents can and often do have amendments made, the online version of any document in the Governance Document Library is considered the current version.
Approval

If your draft Governance document has been settled by the Policy and Delegations Unit and endorsed by the relevant Senior Executive it can be tabled for approval at the next meeting of VCAG, Academic Board or Council. If a draft is of an existing document that has undergone review or amendment it must show the ‘track changes’ in a Microsoft Word document. Only documents that are in the correct format with an attached Governance Document Proposal and meeting submission coversheet, will be considered for inclusion by the Secretariat.

For further advice on, contact the Policy and Delegations Unit.
Implementation and Promulgation

Governance document responsibilities are integrated into the normal line management structure of the University.

Once approval has been given by an approving authority:

  • the Policy and Delegations Unit will place the document into the Governance Document Library and upload on to the official University website and notify you that the document is available online
  • the Contact Officer should ensure all stakeholders who will be either directly or indirectly impacted by the Governance document are able to access and understand the document and any changes to work practices it may require
  • stakeholders should update, amend or create any work instructions which may be necessary to implement or support the document
  • the document sponsor should ensure all staff members, students and authorised visitors within their area/s of responsibility comply with the Governance document.
Review

All Governance documents are subject to a process of periodic review to ensure that the information contained in the document is still correct, accurately reflects the practices of the University and ensures they remain compliant with Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government legislation and the University’s Governing documents.

Scheduled reviews are usually every two years for procedures and guidelines, and every three years for policy documents. By-laws and rules are reviewed as necessary.

Reviews of documents can also be carried out at any time if it becomes evident that the document requires amendment. Where a review is required that is not a scheduled review, a ‘Word’ version of the document should be requested through the Policy and Delegations Unit.

Minor amendments such as title changes and minor grammatical corrections can be requested through the Policy and Delegations Unit at any time.

Council has overall authority for approval of policies relating to governance of the University in accordance with the Charles Darwin University Act 2003.

The NT Government has, on recommendation of Council, approval authority for new or revised by-laws. Approval decisions are often made with advice from the Nominations, Honorary Awards and Legislative Committee.

Under authority from Council, the Vice-Chancellor, on recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group (VCAG), is the approval authority for policies relating to the University’s administrative and corporate matters. Approval decisions are often made with advice from relevant advisory groups or committees. For example, the ICT Governance Committee will support and recommend new or revised ICT related Governance documents be approved by the Vice-Chancellor.

The Academic Board is the approval authority for policies relating to the University’s academic matters. Where documents impact on learning and teaching and / or research, any major amendments must be approved first by either the Learning and Teaching Committee or the Research and Research Training Committee before being sent to the Academic Board.

Under authority delegated by the Council to the Vice-Chancellor, the Policy and Delegations Unit is the approval authority for minor administrative amendments to a document that don't affect its substance or intent, or do not substantially change the majority of the document such as a change of staff title or department title.

This table lists the relevant approval authorities of the University who can approve the establishment, amendment and revocation of University Governance documents.

Approval AuthorityAuthorisation Responsibilities
NT Government on recommendation of CouncilAll By-laws
Council on the recommendation of the Academic Board or the Nominations, Honorary Awards and Legislative CommitteeGovernance matters
Vice-Chancellor on the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group (VCAG)Administrative and corporate matters
Academic Board on the recommendation of the University Research and Research Training Committee (RRTC) or the University Learning and Teaching Committee (ULTC)Academic matters

Style and Tone

Plain English

The Policy and Delegations Unit uses a writing style that is based on plain English principles. We want our Governance Documents to clearly communicate information, to be confident and to the point. They should be able to be understood after one reading.

Use familiar, everyday words. Say exactly what you mean, using the simplest words that fit. This does not necessarily mean only using simple words, just words our readers will understand. Long and complex words will not impress our readers or help your writing style. Avoid university terminology and acronyms, and overuse of jargon and legalistic words. Always explain any technical terms you have to use.

Use active voice. Be concise and aim to make about 80 - 90% of your verbs active. Say ‘we will do it’ rather than ‘it will be done by us’. Avoid using the words ‘was’ and ‘by’ as these are often found in passive sentences.

Use simple sentence framework. Use shorter sentences (15 to 22 words). This does not mean making every sentence the same length. Be punchy, vary your writing by mixing short sentences with longer ones. Follow the basic principle of sticking to one main idea in a sentence, plus perhaps one other related point.

Use headings and bullet points. Use formatting techniques to make it easy to scan a document and find key information. You should use bullet points in lists. These are better than numbers or letters as they draw your attention to each point without giving you extra information to take in.

The tone of our documents is friendly and warm, without being overly familiar. Imagine you are talking to your reader. Write sincerely, personally, in a style that is suitable and with the right tone of voice.  And always check that your writing is clear, helpful, human and polite. We want to sound new and dynamic, avoiding stuffy or archaic language, euphemisms, clichés or trendy / slang words / phrases. Our writing should be fresh and engaging, while presenting the University as a respected, quality university with an international standing.

It is essential that we write our documents with the audience in mind. Remember that our readers have different life situations, experiences, cultures and native languages. Our documents need to tell the audience what they want to know, not just what we want to tell them. We write to our audience, not at them. Stop and think before you start writing. Make a note of the points you want to make in a logical order.

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Policy

Policy plays an important role within the University. It provides the principles which dictate how the members of the University should act.

Those principles are derived from and shaped by the law and regulations that govern the University; national standards and community expectations; and the values and mission the University articulates in its Strategic Plan.

It is the role of Policy to:

  • translate values into operation
  • ensure compliance with legal and statutory responsibilities
  • guide the University towards the achievement of its strategic plan
  • provide a framework for action
  • set standards
  • improve the management of risk.

Policies are intended to be long term in application. They are reviewed on a regular basis – every three  years - and less frequently than procedures or guidelines.

Elements of a Policy Document

Introduction

The introduction should be a brief statement that alerts the reader to the origin or authority for the policy. It should not contain a history of the matter.

In one or several sentences:

  • identify any legislation / strategic priority which has given rise to this policy
  • identify the importance of the policy to the university’s mission or to specific values
  • briefly outline the context (perhaps both legislative and institutional) which has given rise to the policy.

Statement of Authority

The statement of authority links the policy back to a relevant by-law or part of the CDU Act and gives the policy its 'authority'. The template has a standard statement that is relevant for the majority of policies.

Intent

The intent is a brief statement, usually one or two sentences regarding the aim or intention of the policy.

Policy

The Policy section constitutes the core section of the document. This section should include clear principles which govern the way action will be taken on the issue. You should ensure that only principles or objectives are listed, not procedural elements which belong in a procedure document. The list of principles may be quite succinct or more detailed because of the nature of the issue.

Policy Sponsor

The Policy Sponsor will normally be a member of the Senior Executive such as the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Chief Operating Officer, or the Chief Financial Officer.

Policy Contact Officer

The Contact Officer will be the position/s within the University which is primarily responsible for the day to day implementation, compliance with, and review of, the document.

Procedures

Procedures set out, often in a step-by-step fashion, the University’s requirements for a particular course or mode of action. Procedures clearly define how a policy will be implemented and by whom. They are reviewed more often than by-laws, rules or policies (every two years) as operational systems change in line with the University’s requirements.

Procedures often elaborate on, and give effect to, a by-law, rule, agreement, code or policy and define the area in which policy is operative. Compliance with procedures is mandatory and non-compliance may be actionable through appropriate conduct policy documents.

Elements of a Procedure Document

Introduction

The Introduction is a general summary of the history of the procedure and may include: why it is being utilised; what policies, legislation, agreement or codes it supports; who will be impacted by the procedure; what the content of the procedure will include; why it is to be implemented; the background of the procedure; to whom it relates; and how it supports the University’s strategic plan.

For example: the Charles Darwin University Council may, by resolution, recognise the achievements of persons in the community and / or the University by way of conferring an Honorary Title, Award or Degree. These include:

  • Emeritus Chancellor of the University
  • Emeritus Professor of the University
  • Companion of the University
  • Honorary Degrees.

Intent

This should be a brief summary of two or three sentences and specify exactly what the procedure covers and to whom it applies. For example: The intention of this document is to define the role, privileges, selection criteria and responsibilities of recipients of Honorary Titles and Awards from the Charles Darwin University.

Procedures

The Procedure section constitutes the core section of the document. This section should include clear practices, actions or procedural elements that the University supports, clearly stating who will be responsible for any action within the University and what are the consequences (if any) for not following a particular procedure.

Each section of this part of the document should be clearly identifiable and headings and subheadings in bold font.
Guidelines

Guidelines set out the University’s requirement for, or prescription of, best or safest practice. They are interpretive statements and as with policies and procedures they need to be forwarded to Governance for approval from the Vice-Chancellor through VCAG or Academic Board. Similar to procedures, guidelines are reviewed and updated more often than by-laws, rules or policies.

Elements of a Guideline Document

Introduction

The Introduction is a general summary of the information in the guideline and may include: why it is being utilised; what policies, procedures, legislation or agreement it supports; why it is to be implemented; the background of the procedure and to whom it relates.

Intent

This should be a brief summary of two or three sentences and specify exactly what the guideline covers. For example: The intention of this document is to guide the University’s...

Guidelines

The procedure section constitutes the core section of the document. This section should include clear practices, actions or procedural elements that the University supports, clearly stating who will be responsible for any action within the University and what are the consequences (if any) for not following a particular procedure.

Each section of this part of the document should be clearly identifiable and headings and subheadings in bold font

Style guide for all templates

Header

The header uses the most current University logo and is standard on each of the policy, procedure and guideline templates. All you need to do is substitute the required information as listed in brackets – [….] Header font size is 8pt Arial.

The Contact Officer is the position/s within the University which is primarily responsible for the day to day implementation, compliance with, and review of, the document.

Footer

The footer font size is 8pt Arial. For consistency, all University documents whether for internal or external distribution should have a footer attached which includes:

  • the name of the document
  • which position within the University the contact officer has / who is responsible for it
  • the version number of the document
  • page identification - page X of X.

Body

The font size for the body is 10pt Arial, justified. The major headings are capitalised using 12pt Arial Black. These should not be altered in any way.

Relevant Definitions

The relevant definitions are an alphabetical list of technical terms and keywords used throughout the document that provide clarification for the reader. You should not use acronyms in the document as these are not always familiar to the reader, even with a definition. You should assume that the person reading the document has no prior knowledge of your subject area and that they are reading the document as a ‘stand-alone’ document (i.e. not in conjunction with any other documents).

Most words are already defined within the University; however this may change according to the context of the document. To maintain standardisation of terminology, you should check with the CDU Glossary to ensure that you are not creating new definitions for words.

Essential Supporting Information

The essential supporting information alphabetically lists the names of those Governance documents or other key documents including Commonwealth, State and Territory Legislation, acts and regulations, that are essential to understanding and implementing the document or which simply relate to it. You should also list any relevant forms here and include hyperlinks to all the listed documents so that readers can easily link to a supporting or related document.

Document History and Version Control

The document history and version control is used to record the detail of minor and major amendments (reviews). All documents should contain a document history separately on the final page and any amendments are to be noted in this final section. Though all amendments whether minor or full reviews are to be completed using track changes, you should still add details in the ‘brief description’ section about what has been changed.

For example don't simply write Document reviewed and changes made, instead, write: Research Office changed to Office of Research and Innovation to reflect title change or Chief Financial Officer changed to Executive Director, Finance and Asset Services to reflect position change.

Version numbers must appear in the front-page header and in the footers of all pages of a document. Version numbering consists of a number followed by a point then another two numbers.

The number to the right of the dot point describes the number of minor amendments from the time of issue or from the last major review. The number always starts with 1.00 and after the first minor amendment will result in 1.01 and continue in this manner for each minor amendment. For example, the tenth minor amendment without any major revision would appear as 1.10.

The number to the left of the point describes the number of major revisions (reviews) from issue. Each review would result in the number to the left of the point increasing by 1 and the numbers to the right of the dot point returning to zero.

This system of numbering provides a document history at a glance. If the version is 1.00 then there have been no changes since issue. For example, a version number of 7.06 would reflect six major reviews and six minor amendments since issue. In other words this particular document is current and has been reviewed regularly.

For a copy of any University Governance document templates please contact the Policy and Delegations Unit.

  • Policy Template
  • Procedure Template
  • Guideline Template
  • Terms of Reference Template for Committees, Groups, Boards

For any other templates visit CDU Brand.