aspa past events

ASPA Past Events

Influencing social policy: insights from economics, psychology and biology

Presenter: Mary Ann O’Loughlin

Date: Wednesday 11 March 2015 at 5pm

Please RSVP to [email protected]

Location: Barton Theatre, Level 1, GJ Yeend Wing, JG Crawford Building (#132A) 1 Lennox Crossing, Australian National University.

To quote the great psychologist, Kurt Lewin: if you want to understand something, try to change it. Changing behaviour to improve wellbeing is central to social policy. Reflecting on my travels with social policy over the past 30 years, I am heartened by the many gains but despondent about the policy failures. We have been most successful when we have used traditional government levers such as legislation, regulation or financing to achieve policy outcomes. But we have often floundered when the policy levers have been aimed at persuading people to change their behaviour. The failures point to a failure of understanding.

During this period, economics has dominated the policy landscape. Social policy has achieved much on its coat-tails. But as a discipline to explain behaviour, traditional economics has limitations. Recently, we have seen the rise of behavioural economics in response to these limitations. In this address I will consider these developments. I will also look beyond to a broader range of disciplines — including social psychology and biology — for a better understanding of behaviour to improve the effectiveness of social policy.

BIOGRAPHY – Mary Ann O’Loughlin

Over a career spanning 30 years, Mary Ann has worked in social policy from many different vantage points. She is currently an Executive Director at KPMG in Policy, Programs and Evaluation.  Previously, she was Executive Councillor and Head of the Secretariat of the COAG Reform Council. Between 2000 and 2008 Mary Ann was Director of the social policy practice at the Allen Consulting Group, an economics and public policy consulting firm. Before joining Allen Consulting, she had been Senior Adviser (Social Policy) to the former Prime Minister, the Hon Paul Keating MP; the head of Corporate Affairs at the largest publicly listed private health care company; and had held a number of senior executive positions in the Commonwealth Public Service, including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Department of Employment, Education and Training.

Mary Ann is a Director of CEDA and a National Fellow of IPPA. In 2013 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to public administration, social policy and reform of federal financial relations.

Also in March…

ASPA co-presents Professor Guy Standing from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, speaking about his new book A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens as part of the University of Sydney’s Big Ideas public lecture series.
Thursday 5 March, 6-7.30pm at the Sydney Law School. For more details or to register see below: :

Past ASPA Events

Welfare and the State: Old and New Challenges, Public Lecture & Book Launch

Tuesday December 10, 2013, 5.30 pm (for a 5:45 pm start)
The Glasshouse, Z6 Block- Level 4, QUT Creative Industries Precinct
Cnr Kelvin Grove Road & Musk Avenue, Brisbane

A public lecture by Prof Greg Marston presented by the Australian Social Policy Association in conjunction with School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology. Introductory comments by Prof Adam Graycar, President Australian Social Policy Association.

Enhanced rights and protections, but what about capability? Reflections from four decades of social policy engagement

Date: Wednesday 13 March 2013, 5:30pm – 7pm

Presenter: Alison McClelland, Commissioner, Productivity Commission

Respondents: Paul Ronalds, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Annette Michaux Strategic Policy and Research Manager, The Whiddon Group.
Location: Barton Theatre, Level 1, GJ Yeend Wing, JG Crawford Building (#132A) 1 Lennox Crossing, Australian National University

In this lecture Alison McClelland reflects on her experiences in social policy over four decades in different sectors, organisations and positions. Responses from Paul Ronalds (PM&C) and Annette Michaux (The Whiddon Group).

ASPA Occasional Lecture: Noticing and Helping the Neglected Child – Lessons from the UK

Monday 5 September 2011

Professor Brigid Daniel, Stirling University

As part of the Safeguarding Children research programme, a recent systematic literature review examined evidence about the extent to which practitioners are equipped to recognise and respond to the indications that a child’s needs are likely to be, or are being neglected. This lecture reported on the findings, explored implications for policy and practice, and presented a model for conceptualising a straightforward response to neglected children.

Professor Daniel’s lecture was followed by a Q and A session with a panel including Professor Daniel, Megan Mitchell (NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People) and Professor Jan Carter (social worker, social researcher and policy analyst).

Download presentation slides and Book flyer.

Brigid Daniel, MA (Hons), PhD, CQSW, is Professor of Social Work at Stirling University in the Department of Applied Social Science and is head of the Social Work section which delivers undergraduate and post-graduate qualifying social work programmes as well as a range of continuing professional development courses. Brigid was a member of the team that undertook the multi-disciplinary audit and review of child protection in Scotland that reported in ‘It’s everyone’s job to make sure I’m alright’. Her research interests and publications are in the areas of child development, children’s resilience, work with fathers and child neglect. Information about the publication arising from the work Professor Daniel discussed in her lecture is available at

Professor Jan Carter M Phil, MSci(Econ). BA, Dip Soc Studs
Jan Carter, AM, is a social worker, social researcher, writer and social policy analyst.  She has been a social worker in hospitals in Melbourne, Perth and London, headed up social policy and research for the Brotherhood of St Lawrence, held professorial posts in two leading Australian Universities and is now an Adjunct Professor in three universities.  She is an experienced Board member and has been a Member of many Commonwealth and State inquiries, taskforces and Ministerial committees.  She is at present Advisor to a philanthropic foundation in regional Victoria and the Foundation Director of the Australian College of Social Work (the college of advanced practice for social workers).

Megan Mitchell is NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People.
Megan has a strong personal and professional commitment to the needs and interests of children and young people. Her extensive experience in children and youth services has been obtained at national and state levels, in Commonwealth and State governments and non-government organisations.  Megan’s particular focus has been on vulnerable children, child protection, foster and kinship care, juvenile justice, children’s services, child care, disabilities, early intervention and prevention services.  Megan’s previous roles include Executive Director of the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, Executive Director Out of Home Care in the NSW Department of Community Services, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service and Director, Strategic Policy and Planning in the NSW Ageing and Disability Department.  She has formal qualifications in social policy, psychology and education, and has worked as a school teacher.

Eleonora De Michele has been working in the social welfare field for the past 32 years.
Eleonora has worked in a range of capacities in this field. Her career experience includes working as a Child Protection Caseworker; Manager Casework; Manager of DoCS Community Service Centres; DoCS Child Protection policy officer and Senior Child Protection trainer. For the past fifteen years she has worked as an independent consultant, providing a range of clinical and non-clinical services to organisations with human service intervention responsibilities. Eleonora has a particular interest in staff supervision, staff retention, successfully managing the work of child protection and worker self-care.

Forum of presentations to senior members of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

Tuesday 1st March 2011

Professor Peter Saunders, Social Policy Research Centre and President of the Australian Social Policy Association, ‘Australia and social inclusion: definitions and directions’.

Professor Peter Whiteford, Social Policy Research Centre, ‘What we know about joblessness in Australia’.

Annette Michaux, Benevolent Society, ‘Tackling joblessness: making a reality of inclusion’.

Caring for Older Australians

Monday 26th July 2010

In conjunction with La Trobe University’s School of Social Work & Social Policy and Institute for Social Participation.

Chair: Professor Peter Saunders, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales and President, ASPA.

Presentation by Professor Hal Kendig, Research Professor of Ageing and Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney.

Presentation by Ms Barbara Squire, General Manager, Ageing, The Benevolent Society, Paddington, New South Wales.

Presentation by Professor Bob Gregory, Professor of Economics, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University.

ASPA Occasional Lecture: Australia Fair – Driving Labor’s social policy reform agenda

Wednesday 14th July 2010

The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs presented the first in ASPA’s Occasional Lecture series: Australia Fair – Driving Labor’s social policy reform agenda at the University of New South Wales. The lecture was hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

Listen to the lecture with introduction by Professor James Donald (Dean, FASS, UNSW) and ASPA President, Professor Peter Saunders.

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