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Behavioural Insights Unit blogs

We share the findings from our research.

Using behaviourally-informed reminders cuts missed hospital appointments by more than a third

6 April 2021

We reduced the number of people who did not turn up for their hospital appointments by 34%, by using behaviourally informed text SMS. This translates to public health and productivity benefits of almost $120,000. Our approach can be used to optimise reminders in other customer service contexts.


Making government easier by eliminating ‘sludge’

24 March 2021

'Sludge' is the ‘excessive or unjustified frictions’ that make it harder for customers to achieve their goals, such as complicated forms and websites that are hard to navigate. We have developed a 'sludge audit' framework to help public servants to identify, quantify and prioritise sludge. This includes the time, costs and impact on customer experience.


How to build behavioural insights skills in your team

1 March 2021

We partnered with Revenue NSW to set up their Behavioural Insights Champions Network. This involves staff from across their organisation receiving behavioural insights training, and then applying these skills to their day-to-day work. This initiative is helping Revenue NSW to become a 'behaviourally smart' organisation, and improve outcomes for their customers.


How to encourage young people to wear face masks

25 January 2021

We increased the likelihood for young people to voluntarily wear a mask, using an animation campaign on social media that appealed to ego and a positive self-image.


Encouraging citizens to collect free trees

19 January 2021

Tree canopies play a vital role in creating a resilient environment and community. We used behavioural insights to boost an initiative to encourage the community to take up the 'Free Trees Initiative.' This program seeks to increase tree coverage in Western Sydney.


How behavioural insights can help improve responses to COVID-19

30 November 2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be challenging for everyone around the world. NSW customers seek useful, timely information and guidance to inform their decisions and planning.


How to increase adherence to procedures in the public service

27 August 2020

Now, more than ever, it’s important that public servants follow procedures which mitigate risk and help organisations run smoothly; whether it involves hygiene in a hospital, cyber security in an office, or social distancing in a Service Centre.


Addressing myths and misinformation using behavioural insights

13 August 2020

Through behavioural insights, we offer practical suggestions for public servants – especially those working in communications, community engagement and front-line services – to understand how myths spread and how to combat the negative impacts of misinformation.


2020 BIU Report - our project highlights and emerging opportunities

2 July 2020

The 2020 Behavioural Insights Unit Report showcases our major projects over the last two years and shares some of the emerging opportunities in behavioural science that we are excited to explore.


Enhancing Interaction Between Government and Citizens

25 May 2020

Forms and surveys are one of the most common methods of interaction between Australians and government. Maximising their completion helps government to better understand customers and serve their needs, while helping citizens access essential information, services and payments.


Getting Public Benefits to the People Who Need Them

27 April 2020

It’s common for government programs and grants to have unmet capacity despite attempts to promote effective take-up. BIU has a new guide on using behavioural insights to increase the take-up of programs and services.


Behavioural Insights Strategies to Help Your Team Work Remotely

20 April 2020

A new licensing scheme for medical gas systems in medical facilities will begin on 1 November 2020.


Simple behavioural insights interventions significantly reduce the gender gap in recruitment

9 March 2020

Using two behaviourally informed interventions, an email and a phone call, we increased the likelihood of women reapplying for a senior role by 27% and significantly reduced the gender gap between men and women reapplying for senior roles from 45% to just 4%. 


Encouraging managers to support flexible working

17 December 2019

In our latest randomised controlled trial we showed that behaviourally-informed messaging is effective in prompting managers to engage with their staff about flexible work.


Building capability in applying and testing behavioural insights

9 December 2019

Our goal is to see behavioural insights (BI) applied in everyday policy and service design across the NSW Government, leading to better outcomes for the people of NSW. We wanted to make it easy for busy public servants to test their BI ideas, so we created a short and practical guide on RCTs, A/B tests and before-and-after studies.


Opportunities to remove gender as a barrier to senior leadership

21 November 2019

We wanted to understand the barriers to reaching the Premier's gender equality target for senior leadership roles in the government sector. Today we are launching the findings of research we conducted in partnership with the Public Service Commission, Customer Service, Stronger Communities and Transport Clusters.


Increasing Apprenticeship Course Attendance Through Behavioural Interventions

31 May 2019

We ran a randomised control trial (RCT) with Training Services NSW and TAFE NSW to increase the proportion of course lessons that apprentices and trainees attend.


Reducing missed hospital appointments

28 February 2019

Each year thousands of patients miss their outpatient appointments at hospitals. St Vincent’s Hospital wanted to reduce the number of missed hospitals appointments even further and reached out to us to see if behavioural insights could be used to achieve this. 


SMS reminders to reduce social housing rent arrears

28 February 2019

The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) wanted to find out if a reminder SMS text message would be a more effective way to get people in social housing to pay their rental arrears.


Helping injured education workers return to work

28 February 2019

Behavioural insights have been used around the world to help people return to work after an injury or unemployment. Can these techniques help injured workers in Australia return to work?


A guide to reducing the effects of scarcity with simplification, timing and salience

13 December 2018

Government policies and services can be hard to navigate for people who are already under pressure. By understanding the effects of scarcity, we can make these easier to access for the people who need them. We developed an easy-to-use guide to provide more practical tips and strategies to understand and reduce the effects of scarcity.


How to Increase Job Applications in Regional NSW

26 September 2018

Regional NSW offers exciting career opportunities for teachers, engineers, nurses, doctors, business owners and other professionals. Here are some tips on how BI can help to make it easy and attractive for applicants to make the move.


Applying Behavioural Insights to get Trainee Teachers to Rural and Remote NSW

11 September 2018

We partnered with the NSW Department of Education to apply BI to attract trainee teachers to apply for professional experience placements in rural and remote NSW.


Improving domestic violence court attendance

2 April 2018

Using a behaviourally-informed SMS reminder, we reduced domestic violence court non-attendance by 23%.


Encouraging women to apply for senior roles in the Government Sector

2 April 2018

Although the proportion of women in senior leadership roles in the NSW Government Sector has increased, it remains significantly below parity at 40%. We partnered with the Public Service Commission and the Customer Service, Stronger Communities and Transport clusters to increase the proportion of women applying for senior leader roles.

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