I have been an economist in the Commonwealth Public Service and academia for 34 years. In 1989 I completed an undergraduate degree in Economics at the University of Wollongong with Honours; in 2001 I completed a Masters in Statistics at the ANU; and in 2011 a PhD in economic modelling at the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) at the University of Canberra, where I have been working for the last 17 years.
In the Commonwealth Public Service, I worked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 6 years; the Department of Finance for 5 years; and the Commonwealth Grants Commission for 5 years. After progressing in the APS to a management position, I decided I preferred to be at the coalface doing research rather than managing it, and moved to NATSEM to continue modelling. I have worked at NATSEM at the University of Canberra for the last 17 years, including 5 years as Director (2015 – 2020).
My approach to economics is community based and recognises that the economy needs to serve the people in the community; not the people in the community serving the economy.
This is the starting point for the modelling that I have been doing over the last 20 years. It is local, place based, and considers all people and businesses in an area. It treats the businesses as part of the community (as they are usually run by people who are part of the community and rely on the community for their business).
It goes beyond thinking about just growing incomes, and looks at increasing the wellbeing of people. It recognises that there isn’t a one solution that fits all, and uses economic and social modelling to help identify the impact of potential solutions.
With this philosophy, my approach to any problem is consultative. I start any piece of work by talking to the client to listen to what they need, and what their budget is. I then formulate a plan to answer their questions, which may include some modelling. The modelling will start with a model overview, identifying data sources and levers that can be adjusted for “what if” scenarios. Examples of a lever in a regional community might be migration in; and examples of a lever for a larger model for an organisation might be staff recruitment and resignations. I can also work with qualitative researchers to conduct focus groups and interviews where required.
My approach relies on data; and economic and social modelling, which is my specialty. Results from any data gathering and modelling are analysed, and some answers to the questions asked are suggested. These are workshopped with the client where different options can be modelled.
This process has been successful for a number of projects I have been involved in, including work in Scottsdale, Tasmania; communities in the Murray Darling Basin; work on trust in Government services across Australia; and work with the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment.