Analyzing a Contemporary Australian Public Health Policy Using a Theoretical Framework- Infectious Disease Control

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  • Topic: Policy, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic
  • Pages : 10 (3234 words )
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  • Published : August 20, 2011
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Advocacy Coalition is a policy framework which arose out of a need to address limitations of the stages heuristic of the policy process. The Advocacy Coalition framework (ACF) is built on a set of assumptions and highlights policy change as a function of: the interaction of competing advocacy coalitions within a policy subsystem; changes external to the subsystem; the effects of relatively stable system parameters. This work is an application of ACF, as an analytical tool to the Avian Influenza disease control policy in Australia. It traces the political context surrounding the emergence of stakeholder groups and identifies the impact of current policies on principles of equity and social justice. In closing alternative policy strategies and their benefits are discussed.

Public Policy Development
Selected Theoretical Framework: Advocacy Coalition Framework The Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) as a theoretical tool of the policy process provides a framework which explains how interested actors/ stakeholders interact to influence emergence of a public policy or policy change within a specific policy subsystem, over time. The ACF was developed to simplify the complexity of interacting issues such as learning, belief, policy change and role of scientific and technical information, in policy making (Weiber, Sabatier & McQueen, 2009). In response to what was perceived as limitations in the policy process literature, Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith, created the ACF in the late 1980’s. These limitations included the inadequacy of stages heuristic as causal theory of the policy process, the absence of and poignant need for system-based theories of policymaking and thirdly, a need to place scientific and technical information centrally in the policy process (Weiber, Sabatier & McQueen 2009). Within the ACF, policy communities are articulated in terms of beliefs; as such policies are the product of the belief systems of the actors concerned by a given policy subsystem. The important structures – advocacy coalitions –are modeled as flowing from the bonds and relationships of actors who share similar values and beliefs. These coalitions, which may be tightly or loosely coupled, are comprised of government agencies and officials, interest groups, associations, think tanks, academics, academics, persons of the media, and prominent individuals who more or less share a global view and agree generally on policy solutions (Lindquist, 2001). Contextually, within the ACF policies emerge from numerous confrontations and negotiations between different coalitions of actors in the subsystem.

Articulating the ACF and the Avian Influenza Policy Subsystem The ACF frequently seeks to explain stakeholder behavior and policy outcomes in intense political conflicts over periods of a decade or more. According to Lindquist (2001), any truly political theory of the policy process must account for the fact that political actors engage in the policy process not only to respond to perceived social problems, but also to advance their own political interests and careers under the prevailing socio-political climate of the particular period. If we couple the foregoing with the central assumption of the ACF that identifies beliefs as the causal generator of political behavior (Weiber, Sabatier & McQueen 2009), it becomes manifest that the ACF framing of policies proceeds within the following premise, amongst others, that there exists: (i) identifiable stakeholder groups; (ii) possibly current policy/ policies; and (iii) prevailing political context/ environment.

Australian Avian Influenza Policy Subsystem
(i) Stakeholder groups: As rightly pointed out by Weible (2006) stakeholder analysis and identification helps policy makers conceptualize actors within and the dynamics of a policy subsystem. Weible (2006) instructs that to properly identify relevant stakeholders there was need to first delineate the most useful unit of analysis – the policy...
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