Behavioural Insights Unit

The NSW Behavioural Insights Unit (BIU) uses the latest research about how people really think and act to help NSW Government agencies deliver better services to citizens.

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We provide tips and the latest results on using behavioural insights, and upcoming events and workshops for NSW public servants to support NSW citizens.

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About us

Our mission is to work with NSW Government agencies to improve the effectiveness of public services and public policy.

We combine evidence from behavioural sciences and behavioural economics with the experience of service agencies and customers to identify and evaluate what works, when and why to change behaviour.

Our behavioural approach can be applied in a range of different situations to solve diverse challenges.

You can read about our work in our blogreports and guides

How we can help you

There are four main ways we help NSW Government agencies.

  1. Rapid advice: We rapidly review policy or service-delivery proposals and test underlying behavioural assumptions against evidence or NSW practice experience. We run a regular Behavioural Insights Clinic to tease out and pressure test behavioural challenges or you can contact us for a tailored service.
  2. Improve the customer experience and reduce sludge: Sludge is excessive or unjustified frictions that make it difficult for customers to achieve their goals. We have a sludge audit tool we use with agencies to identify and rapidly resolve behavioural barriers that get in the way of good customer experience and the NSW Customer Commitments.
  3. Build and test behavioural interventions: We work with agencies on major priorities (like the NSW Premier’s Priorities) to build and test better ways to change behaviour and improve citizen outcomes. We use the most rigorous methodology we can, often randomised controlled trials (RCTs), to determine whether the intervention works and how it can be implemented.
  4. Behaviourally-smart NSW Government: We grow NSW public sector confidence and capability to use behavioural sciences and economics to improve citizen outcomes. We do this by providing guides to applying behavioural insights, supporting behavioural champions in agencies, sharing information on how NSW is applying behavioural insights and other activities.

Recent examples of our work

We have a track record over the past ten years of driving better customer experience and improved outcomes in key Government priorities.

COVID-19 clinic
COVID retesting

12% more people intend to get tested if they experience COVID symptoms

COVID self-isolation

29% fewer people breaching self-isolation after COVID tests

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Licence applications

32% fewer follow-up support requests for trade license applications

Education - rural

Three times more teacher applications for rural & remote schools - more than 100 placed

Education - Apprentices

16% fewer apprentice and trainee dropouts - 7:1 return on investment


34% fewer missed hospital appointments


25% fewer no-shows of DV defendants at court

Cancer scan

27% more women reapplying for leadership roles - Gender gap in reapplication reduced from 45% to 4%


More free trees given out and time taken for applications reduced by 73%

Latest blogs

Female tradie cutting timber with a circular saw

Skilled tradespeople are in high demand and short supply, so why aren’t more women considering trades careers?

Presenter talking to crowded room of workshop participants

The Behaviour Smart Bootcamp helps agencies embed behavioural insights in their services to take the guesswork out of understanding customer behaviour.  

team huddled around a table

Our second Sludge-a-thon brought together teams from across NSW Government to use behavioural insights to improve customer experience.


You can read more about the work we have done with NSW Government agencies.



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