The Policy Lab projects
- From Entitlement to Experiment: The New Governance of Welfare to Work
- Family Well-Being: The Role of Public Policy
- Understanding the causes of political trust through survey experiments
- Co-evolution of Cooperation, Mindreading, and Morality
- Collective Self-Regulation in Complex Social-Ecological Systems
- Enhancing wellbeing over the life-course
- Improving Indigenous health and wellbeing over the family life course
- Networked Individualism: A Comparative Study of Social Networks, Digital Media, International Ties, and Privacy
- The Civic Impact of Journalism
- The Intergenerational Transmission of Joblessness
- Transformation to Low Carbon Living: Social Psychology of Low Carbon Behavioural Practice
- Unlocking the food value chain: Australian food industry transformation for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets
- Vote Compass
From Entitlement to Experiment: The New Governance of Welfare to Work
Investigators: Jenny M Lewis, Mark Considine, Siobhan O'Sullivan (UNSW), Phuc Nguyen and Michael McGann (ARC Linkage Grant 2015-2018)
This project aims to model and explain the governance dynamics of welfare to work in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Australia regularly undertakes major governance reforms in providing welfare to the unemployed and other groups in need. In this dynamic environment, welfare agencies are struggling to deliver benefits to the most disadvantaged people. Services must balance the need to meet central performance requirements against the desire to help clients. The project aims to create a new framework for understanding how policy instruments and design experiments can improve services for those who are in need.
Family Well-Being: The Role of Public Policy
Investigator: Leah Ruppanner (DECRA 2015-2017)
For many parents, balancing work and family demands is extremely stressful, affecting work, relationships and parent and infant health. In response, governments around the world have instituted family policies, which have not yet been systematically evaluated for their effectiveness. This project aims to address this limitation by systematically evaluating family policies to maximise the health and well-being of Australian families. Applying cutting-edge methods and recently released data, this project also aims to provide specific policy suggestions to guide Australian family policy and to improve the future well-being of Australian families.
Understanding the Causes of Political Trust through Survey Experiments
Investigator: Aaron Martin (DECRA 2016-2018)
This project intends to improve our understanding of the drivers of political trust and point to ways that political trust could be improved. Despite the importance of political trust to the functioning of democratic systems, we have no experimental data on what the causes of political trust are, and political trust has been said to have reached crisis levels in many democracies. By integrating existing survey data with experiments in five established democracies, this project aims to identify the causes of political trust and how these differ by country, which may inform policies addressing challenges such as ageing populations and environmental change.
Co-evolution of Cooperation, Mindreading, and Morality
Investigator: Yoshihisa Kashima (ARC Discovery 2016-2019)
The project investigates the evolutionary and cultural–historical underpinnings of human cooperation. Human cooperation is critical to meet contemporary challenges to humanity such as climate change and humanitarian emergencies. Yet, when cooperation incurs some cost to benefit others, how can cooperation emerge? The project’s main contention is that human cooperation co-evolved with the human capacities to read each other’s minds and to monitor and sanction each other's deeds in the social context of pursuing a collective goal for a greater good. The project tests the theoretical integrity of this contention through computer simulations and its empirical validity through laboratory experiments and cross-cultural studies.
Collective Self-Regulation in Complex Social-Ecological Systems
Investigator: Yoshihisa Kashima (ARC Discovery 2016-2019)
This project investigates the necessary supports and drivers for self-regulation for environmental purposes. Sustainable human uses of natural resources are central to meeting contemporary challenges to humanity such as deforestation and climate change. However, the complexity of the social and ecological interdependences tests the human capacity for collective self-regulation - ordinary citizens' regulation of their own behaviours for a greater good. The project investigates the importance of establishing a common ground for collective self-regulation, the process of common ground formation in complex social-ecological systems, and how best to achieve this critical condition for sustainable ecological practices.
Enhancing Wellbeing over the Life Course
Investigator: Belinda Hewitt (ARC Future fellowship)
This project investigates the impact of family life transitions, such as relationship formation and dissolution or births, on wellbeing over the life course. It does this by analysing data following people over time and will provide information about the negative and positive effects of family transitions for wellbeing, track changes in wellbeing before, during and after transitions, and highlight the intersections of the family life course with gender, age and socioeconomic status. This will considerably enhance understandings of wellbeing over the family life course, providing insights for targeted policies and interventions to improve health and wellbeing.
Improving Indigenous Health and Wellbeing over the Family Life Course
Investigator: Belinda Hewitt (ARC Linkage 2016-2018)
This project aims to reduce Indigenous health inequalities, a major social and economic problem, by improving the policy relevant evidence base on the determinants of Indigenous health and wellbeing. This project compares the impact of the family life course on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers and children. It uses survey data that follows them over time to: 1) identify family structures that enhance or harm health and wellbeing, and; 2) track changes in health and wellbeing before, during and after family transitions (i.e. births, relationship changes).
Networked Individualism: A Comparative Study of Social Networks, Digital Media, International Ties, and Privacy
Investigators: Barbara Barbosa Neves, Brent Berry and Barry Wellman (University of Toronto). Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2015-2018)
Is community and family life withering as some scholars and popular media contend? Or is it transforming - and even flourishing - now? We use contemporary and long term evidence collected in English Canada and from a variety of developed countries to evaluate this debate, giving special attention to the interplay of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) (internet + mobile) with community and social capital. This project brings together an international team of social scientists and media scholars, and is coordinated by Principal Investigators Professor Brent Berry and Professor Barry Wellman (University of Toronto).
The Civic Impact of Journalism
Investigators: Andrea Carson, Margaret Simons, Denis Muller and Rodney Tiffen (University of Sydney). Funded by the Ian Potter Foundation and Australian Communities Foundation
What is the impact of journalism on civic life in a liberal democracy? What is the impact on civic life of a reduction in journalistic capacity, including from the collapse of the business model of traditional media? What models are likely to sustain journalism in the future, and what deficits will exist? This is a cross disciplinary research project, innovative in that it brings to bear expertise in journalism, IT, social policy, business and economics to bear on the question of the present, past and future of journalism at a time of tumultuous change.
The Intergenerational Transmission of Joblessness
Investigators: Irma Mooi-Reci, Tim Liao and Mark Wooden (ARC Discovery 2016-19)
The project aims to unpack the mechanisms, channels and factors that drive joblessness from one generation to the next in Australia and across Europe, Asia and the United States. By creating a rich longitudinal dataset on families across the selected countries, it plans to challenge existing theories by asking whether aspects of family's work–welfare trajectories, values and dynamics play out differently across multiple nations, over time and in different labour market, institutional and family contexts. Project results may provide evidence-based knowledge for the development of effective interventions to avert the persistence of joblessness across generations.
Transformation to Low Carbon Living: Social Psychology of Low Carbon Behavioural Practice
Investigator: Yoshihisa Kashima (CRC Low Carbon Living 2015-2018)
To achieve low carbon living, individual citizens must engage in behavioural practices that have lesser carbon footprint than their current practices, which we call low carbon behavioural practices. As a first step towards engaging the public to move towards low carbon living, this project aims to provide a social psychological foundation for answering the following questions: 1. what undesirable behavioural practices with significant carbon implications do our target population commonly engage in (ie current behavioural practices), 2. what alternative behavioural practices are available which would have lower carbon footprint (ie low carbon behavioural practices), and 3. what psychological, societal, and cultural processes need to be activated to encourage people to change from the current to alternative behavioural practices, and to lower carbon emissions.
Unlocking the Food Value Chain: Australian food industry transformation for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets
Investigator: Yoshihisa Kashima (ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hubs 2013-18)
The University of Melbourne and Kraft Foods are leading an integrated research program to enhance Asian export opportunities for manufactured confectionery. The Research Hub will develop new product insights and innovative production technologies that will enable Australia's largest manufacturing sector to exploit new markets such as India and China.
Investigators: Andrea Carson and Aaron Martin (in partnership with ABC and VoxPopLabs)
Vote Compass is a tool developed by political scientists for exploring how citizens' views align with those of political parties. It has now been run in two Australian federal and state elections and has had, cumulatively, more than 2 million responses, making it the largest-ever survey of political opinion in Australia. In 2013 Crikey named Vote Compass the "media innovation of the year," describing it as, "a major initiative that allowed voters to explore how their policy preferences lined up with those of the major parties. It could have been a disaster for the ABC but 1.2 million Aussies used the tool, which delivered a fascinating and useful pool of data."