Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne, 2019–20
Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
My research in the health and social sciences focused on qualitative analysis of people’s experiences of illicit drug use and health service provision. My work also explored how the concept of addiction is used and encountered in people’s daily lives.
What policy area are you working on through the Science Policy Fellowship Program?
I am based in the Human Rights Unit at the Attorney-General’s Department. I work with my team to coordinate Australia’s reporting to, and appearances before, the United Nations on our international human rights obligations. I have also been involved in developing a policy proposal addressing how the Australian government collects data.
How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
The research, critical thinking, writing and project management skills I developed in my research career have been essential to my role. Preparing detailed briefing for Australia’s delegations attending UN appearances is a substantial research and writing task. My knowledge of data sources and data collection methods has helped my team address data gaps in delegation briefing documents. My project management skills have also proven useful for planning long-term project work according to the UN’s five year reporting cycle. In addition, understanding how evidence can be used and built upon has helped me to provide advice during policy development on how to incorporate existing evidence and data collection into program design.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
The fellowship has shown me how valuable my skillset is outside academia and built my confidence for moving into a new stage of my career. It has also exposed me to the breadth of interesting work that exists outside academic research. It has been a challenging transition at times, having to loosen my hold on my area of academic expertise, but it has also been liberating.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
Working with my team! I work with a wonderful team of friendly, funny, dedicated and inspiring colleagues. I have also enjoyed learning a great deal about human rights, international human rights mechanisms, and the Australian policy process.