Implementing UN breastfeeding policy in Victoria: Discourse, agency and policy implementation

Stream: Panel 84 - Gender Politics: Women’s Work and Women at Work 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm


The paper combines new institutionalist, discourse analytical and feminist theories of policy development to enhance our understandings of policy implementation. It takes a decentred approach, drawing on experience of implementing international policies derived from human rights discourse outside or around the traditional channels of government, to explore the role of discourse and agency in policy implementation. This paper uses a case study of the implementation of the Innocenti Declaration in Victoria. The Innocenti Declaration and its accompanying action plans emerged from the UN’s work in the area of children’s human rights, and comprise the UN’s policies to support and promote breastfeeding. The work of implementing these policies falls to member states, and is monitored by UN agencies. In Victoria, however, implementation of the Innocenti Declaration has occurred largely through the proactive work of non-governmental advocacy and healthcare organisations – often in partnership with or funded by governments, but with only rare and scattered explicit governmental policy direction. Implementation has therefore been uncoordinated, fragmented, and slow – but it is still occurring, despite the lack of governmental direction.


Chloe Duncan (Presenter), University of Melbourne
Chloe Duncan is a doctoral candidate in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on public policy theory and policy implementation. She has previously worked as a policy analyst in the Victorian Government and the not-for-profit sector.

Helen Sullivan (Presenter), University of Melbourne
Professor Helen Sullivan is Foundation Director of the Melbourne School of Government (MSoG) and a public policy scholar. Her research and teaching explores the changing nature of state-society relationships including the theory and practice of governance and collaboration, new forms of democratic participation, and public policy and service reform.

Her latest book is Hybrid Governance in European Cities: Neighbourhood,

Migration and Democracy (2013). She is a Fellow (Victoria) of the

Institute of Public Administration Australia.