Experience, skills, and ideas


Senior Advisor and other positions with Australian Council of Social Service (1990 to present)

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney

Member, New South Wales Government Housing Appeals Committee (1999-2015)

I’ve also consulted to the OECD (see: samples of work)


Panels and advisory bodies:

Employment Services Expert Advisory Panel (reviewing employment services for unemployed people for government)

Centre for Future Work advisory committee (advising the Australia Institute’s centre on its labour market research and policy work)

Centrelink Service Delivery Policy Advisory Group (2007-12)

Community Tax Forum (led by ACTU and ACOSS) (2010-12)

Minister of Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Climate Change Household Assistance Working Group (2011)

Dept. of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, Employment Services Industry Reference Group (2011)

Dept. of Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Disability Support Pension Advisory Group (2011)

Australian Tax Research Foundation Research Advisory Committee (2008-10)

Reference group, program evaluation and monitoring, Dept. of Employment and Workplace Relations (2005-07)

Tax Reform Forum (led by ACOSS, BCA and ACCI) (1998-00)


Education and training

Completed PhD: ‘Active willing and able, a comparison of activation policies in Australia, UK, Netherlands and Denmark’, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW (2018).

McKinsey Executive Leadership course (2017)

Research Advisory Panel, Budget Standards project (Australian Research Council funded research project conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW (2016)

Investigator, ‘New measures of disadvantage project’, Australian Research Council funded research project conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. (2005)



  • Facts-based and solutions-focussed policy analysis of complex issues
  • Writing for research, policy and advocacy (including submissions)
  • Speaking at conferences and seminars
  • Timely, considered advice on policy issues and advocacy strategies
  • Training in policy analysis and advocacy



These are some of the ideas I’ve put forward over the years – both my own and refinements of ideas put forward by others. I don’t claim sole responsibility for either the good or bad results!

Employment services:

Partnership model of employment services for people with complex needs (2017)

The Commonwealth and States would jointly back partnerships between local employment services, community agencies (e.g. social housing providers, mental health services), and employers, to assist the minority of people with entrenched social barriers to employment into stable jobs. This requires collaboration and patient investment that will not happen in the employment services system as currently designed.

Collaboration across sectors to promote policies to reduce long-term unemployment (2012)

Contributed policy ideas to reduce long-term unemployment to a policy dialogue between the Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Council of Trade Unions and Business Council of Australia on employment issues.

[Among the outcomes from this dialogue was a joint statement on long-term unemployment: Opportunity for All]

Research partnerships using administrative data to improve employment services (2010)

Share administrative panel data with academics and other experts, under agreed conditions, to better assess ‘what works’ in employment assistance and related programs for people receiving income support, especially those with complex needs.

[I facilitated meetings between the then Employment Department and researchers and community organisations to open up access to administrative data for this purpose under agreed conditions. This occurred on a small scale, but is now actively promoted across Government]

Job-seeker fund (2002)

Quarantine part of government payments to employment service providers for  investment in assistance to overcome people’s barriers to employment, to prevent under-investment in assistance for people with weaker employment prospects.

[A job-seeker account was introduced to the Job Network in 2003, though with complex and changing rules governing its use].

Social security:

Convert our complex & inequitable income support system for people of working age into a Minimum Income scheme (2017)

Rather than add a small ‘universal basic income’ on top of our income support structure, strengthen its foundations by replacing pensions and allowance payments with a single uniform base rate of payment. This would be supplemented to meet additional needs, (e.g. the costs of children, housing, disability, sole parenthood).

Family payments (2009 – with Jacqueline Phillips)

Simplify the Family Tax Benefit and re-purpose it as an anti-poverty payment and support for the direct costs of children; ensure this support increases as children grow older and cost more to raise.

Integrate subsidies for day care and preschools so that all day care centres have approved educational programs (funded by the States) and all preschools offer care throughout the day (funded by the Commonwealth).

[FTB was increased for older children in 2012 but the payment is still too complex and lacks clarity of purpose. Child care and preschool funding remain separate, though the two are partly integrated in some States.]

Youth Allowance (1996)

Replace unemployment benefits and student payments with a Youth Allowance to improve fairness and remove barriers to young people transitioning between job search and training.

[A Youth Allowance was introduced in 1997, though the payments are far too low and requirements to rely on parents for income support are still too stringent].

Tax reform:

Super contributions rebate (2003)

Replace all tax breaks for super contributions with a simple two-tier capped rebate:
the lower tier a matching government contribution up to a low level of annual contributions (to boost small contributions), the higher tier a 20% rebate for additional contributions up to a modest annual cap. This should be revenue-neutral so that higher support for low income earners is paid for by reducing support for high income-earners. Up to the cap, all would receive the same public subsidy per dollar contributed.

[Not implemented, but subsequently backed by many superannuation stakeholders]

Pay GST to the States (1998)

If a broad based consumption tax is introduced, use the revenue to support State Government spending on essential services rather than income tax cuts. This was intended to strengthen the States’ revenue base and make it harder in future to increase the GST to pay for income tax cuts.

[GST revenue was assigned to the States in 2000, but also used indirectly to cut income tax at that time, at the expense of the federal budget].







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