Australia's Chief Scientist

Australian Science Policy Fellow: Melanie

What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?

My research career focused on understanding how cells in our immune system turn inflammation on, with the purpose of developing new therapies to turn inflammation off when it contributes to acute and chronic diseases, such as sepsis or rheumatoid arthritis.

What policy area are you working on through the Science Policy Fellowship Program?

I’m based in the Department of Health and fortunate to experience two six-month placements during the program. The first policy area is in the development of the Genomics Health Futures Mission, a $500 million investment under the Medical Research Future Fund. The second placement is within Medical Benefits Division, which oversees safe, effective and cost-effective access to Medicare, private health insurance and hearing programs.

How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?

I’m applying all of the skills I developed during my research career to my new policy role – except for using a pipette! My ability to gather information from complex sources, evaluate evidence and extract key points, my attention to detail, ability to assess the requirements of my audience when communicating and work effectively both individually and as part of a team.

How has the program changed your career aspirations?

I now have an increased appreciation for the diversity of career options that are available. I feel that the unique combination of research and policy experience places me well to explore these.

What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?

I’m enjoying opportunities to contribute to national-level initiatives and to consider the big-picture perspective of the influence that policy levers have on the Australian health system. I’m also relishing opportunities to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and to tailor my communication style for diverse purposes.