2023 Life Course Centre Data for Policy Summit

The Life Course Centre is bringing together Government departments, NGOs, not-for-profits and other stakeholders to explore new directions in innovative data access and collaborative research to inform social policy. This will be our sixth Data for Policy event, dating back to the start of our Centre in 2014, and will be held over two days in Canberra on the 15th and 16th of August 2023.

About the Summit

This event is by invitation only and will involve over 100 people, including Government Ministers, senior representatives from the Office of the National Data Commissioner, relevant Commonwealth agencies, NGOs and researchers from the Life Course Centre working with Commonwealth administrative data for policy-relevant research, or who have the potential to do so for Life Course Centre projects.

What will be discussed?

Day One of the summit will focus on Australia’s data infrastructure now and into the future to ensure strong evidence to tackle deep and persistent disadvantage. Topics covered will include the future data landscape and infrastructure directions, policy and evaluation needs, place-based approaches and data sovereignty.

Day Two will focus on substantive areas relevant to reducing social disadvantage over the life course including closing the gap, the early years, housing and homelessness, and disability. The summit will enable time for targeted presentations as well as discussion amongst participants to maximise sharing of information and dialogue about key strategies.

Who’s speaking?

Day One: Tuesday 15 August 2023

Day 1 Session details

Welcome and Opening addresses: 9am–9.45am

  • Welcome to Country
  • Janeen Baxter, Director, Life Course Centre
  • David Gruen, Australian Statistician, Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Statement from Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, Minister for Social Services

SESSION 1: 9.45am–10.45am
The Future of Data

  • Michael Smedes, Chief Data Officer, Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Matthew James, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Gemma Van Halderen, Chief Data Officer and Group Manager, Data and Evaluation Group, Australian Government Department of Social Services

Data and Evaluation: A Match Made in Policy Heaven

  • Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury

SESSION 2: 11.30am–12.30pm
Government Data to inform policy and practice

  • Gayle Milnes, National Data Commissioner, Office of the National Data Commissioner
  • Toby Hall, Director, Insights and Customer Outcomes, NSW Better Outcomes Lab, Customer, Delivery and Transformation, NSW Department of Customer Service
  • Merran Butler, Director, Statistical Analysis, Data Governance and Research, Family and Community Services Insights, Analysis and Research, NSW Department of Communities and Justice
  • Kate Miller, Coordinator Science and Partnerships, Population Health Research Network

SESSION 3: 1.30pm–2.30pm
NGO program data for evaluation

  • Marion Bennett, Executive, Practice, Evidence and Impact, Mission Australia
  • Myra Geddes, General Manager, Social Impact, Goodstart Early Learning
  • Kaitlyn Griggs, General Manager, Contract Governance, Anglicare WA
  • Anne Hampshire, Head of Research and Adocacy, The Smith Family

SESSION 4: 2.30pm–3.30pm
Place-based Data Approaches

  • Speaker to be confirmed, Community Policy, Trials and Evidence Branch, Community Policy and Engagement Group, Australian Government Department of Social Services
  • Tim Reddel, The University of Queensland and Institute for Social Science Research
  • Bronwen Clark, Executive Officer, National Growth Areas Alliance
  • Kerry Nice and Sachith Seneviratne, the University of Melbourne and Life Course Centre

SESSION 5: 4.00pm–5.00pm
The Use of Data for Research

  • Chris Hatherly, Executive Director, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
  • Deborah Cobb-Clark, the University of Sydney and Life Course Centre
  • Sharon Stuart, Brach Manager, Data Strategy Branch, Data and Evaluation Group, Australian Government Department of Social Services
  • Mark Western, The University of Queensland and Life Course Centre

Day Two: Wednesday 16 August 2023

Day 2 Session details

Opening speaker: 9am–9.30am

  • Dr Travers McLeod, Chief Executive Officer, Brotherhood of St Laurence

SESSION 6: 9.30am–10.30am
Closing the Gap

  • Catherine Andersson, Assistant Commissioner, Closing the Gap Review and Reporting Group, Productivity Commission
  • Jessica Hartmann, Branch Manager, Evaluation Branch, Empowerment and Recognition Group, National Indigenous Australians Agency
  • Sharif Deen, Head of Secretariat for the NSW Coalition of Peak Organisations
  • Abdullah Mamun, The University of Queensland and Life Course Centre

SESSION 7: 11.00am – 12.30pm
Early Years Investments

  • Myra Geddes, General Manager Social Impact, Goodstart Early Learning
  • Rhyan Bloor, Assistant Secretary, Data and Delivery Support Branch, Child Care Division, Australian Government Department of Education
  • Juan Larranaga, Policy and Portfolio Manager, Minderoo Foundation
  • Keisi Cheung, Manager, Data Strategy, Data, Analytics & Performance, Early Childhood Outcomes, NSW Department of Education.
  • Sharon Goldfeld, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Life Course Centre

SESSION 8: 1.30pm–2.30pm
Housing and Homelessness

  • Rachel Christie, National Manager, MA Centre for Evidence and Insights, Mission Australia
  • Gabrielle Phillips, Senior Executive, Housing and Specialised Services Group, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Caroline Speed, National Research and Policy Lead, National Growth Areas Alliance
  • Mathew Ling, Research and Evaluation Lead, Neami National

SESSION 9: 2.30pm–4.00pm

  • Val Still, Acting Branch Manager, Australia’s Disability Strategy, Australian Government Department of Social Services
  • Natasha Shahidullah, Acting Branch Manager, NDIS Finance and Performance, Australian Government Department of Social Services
  • Paul Hardcastle, Executive Director, National Disability Data Asset,  Australian Government Department of Social Services
  • Louise York, Group Head, Community Services Group, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Suzanne Poynton, Director, Research and Evaluation, NSW Government Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

What is Data for Policy?

The Life Course Centre’s Data for Policy initiative seeks to shape administrative data access in Australia to improve the lives of those living in social and economic disadvantage. We do this by bringing together relevant stakeholders to share their initiatives, successes and the barriers they face, and we have been doing this since 2014.

Since the inaugural Data for Policy event, several major changes have taken place in the Australian data landscape, including the establishment of the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) administered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Tax Office’s A-Life, the NSW Government’s Data Analytics Unit and the collaborative state-based linkage service the Population Health Research Network, amongst many examples.

But more is needed. Large policy initiatives such as Closing the Gap and Stronger Places, Stronger People need to track success, including making the data evidence useful for the community organisations involved. The Life Course Centre’s NGO partners and stakeholders are working towards linkage and analysis of their own data, to measure success and for better planning and delivery of services. And philanthropic organisations are increasingly seeking measures that will demonstrate the effectiveness of their investments.

Our Sponsors

The Life Course Centre would like to thank our Program Sponsors, the Australian Government Department of Social Services, and the Paul Ramsay Foundation. Through their generous support we are able to bring together a wide range of policy makers and practitioners committed to developing the effective use of data to help reduce disadvantage in Australia.

Date & Time

Tue, 15 – Wed, 16 August 2023

8:30 am – 5:00 pm (AEST)




There is no charge to attend this event. By invite only.