Who is The Australia Institute?
The Australia Institute's Board represents a range of views and priorities, and its staff includes policy experts from fields as diverse as economics, public health and law. What unites us is a belief that, through a combination of research and creativity, we can develop the new ideas and practical policy solutions that a progressive Australia needs.
Board of Directors
|Lin Hatfield Dodds (Chair)
National Director, UnitingCare Australia
Founder/Director of the Social Justice Fund
Former CEO of Philanthropy Australia (96-06)
Director, Centre for Work and Life, University of South Australia
Allan Myers Professor of Law, ACU and Barrister and Solicitor,
Supreme Court of Victoria
Ben Oquist – Executive Director
Ben is a political and communication strategist and former Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown and Senator Christine Milne. Prior to those roles he was the Canberra adviser to progressive public affairs company Essential Media Communications. Ben maintains a particular interest in ensuring progressive voices feature more strongly in Australia’s economic debates.
Richard Denniss - Chief Economist
An economist by training, Richard has worked for the past 20 years in a variety of policy and political roles. In recent years he has been at the forefront of the national policy debates surrounding climate change policy and the Australian mining boom. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University.
Prior to working at The Australia Institute Richard was the Strategy Adviser to the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, was Chief of Staff to the then Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, and held teaching and research jobs at Australian universities.
He is known for his ability to translate economics issues into everyday language. Richard has published extensively in academic journals, has a fortnightly column in The Canberra Times and Australian Financial Review and was the co-author of Minority Policy: Rethinking governance when parliament matters (with Dr Brenton Prosser), the best selling Affluenza (with Dr Clive Hamilton) and An Introduction to Australian Public Policy: Theory and Practice (with Dr Sarah Maddison).
Faith Brown – Executive Assistant
Faith is an experienced career executive assistant with a background in working for senior management in both the federal government and private sector. As Executive Assistant to our Executive Director, she is gifted at organizing all things involved with our executive staff as well as supporting the other team members to ensure the smooth running of the workplace.
Ebony Bennett - Deputy Director
Ebony began her career in the Canberra Press Gallery before becoming media advisor to former Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown. Ebony was the national campaign director for the Australian Greens 2010 federal election campaign. Prior to working for the Australia Institute, Ebony worked for the Australian Human Rights Commission and market research company Lonergan Research.
Roderick Campbell – Director of Research
Rod has worked as an economist since 2007, mainly with public-interest economics group, Economists at Large. He has worked across a range of resource and environmental economics projects including project assessment, tourism economics and environmental valuation. He has assisted community and farming groups assess the economics of resource projects affecting their areas through commissioned and pro bono research, submissions and court appearances. Rod studied economics, geography and Asian languages at University of Melbourne and Kyoto University (Japan).
David Richardson - Senior Research Fellow
David studied economics at Flinders University and the University of New England. He has taught economics at UNE and the University of Western Australia. His research interests include macroeconomics and international economics.
In Canberra David worked in the Economics section of the Parliamentary Library briefing MPs and Parliamentary Committees on various economic issues before Parliament. During the Hawke/Keating Governments David worked for Ministers Brian Howe and Senator Nick Bolkus. David brings a solid knowledge and practical understanding of the Australian economy and government.
Matt Grudnoff - Senior Economist
Matt studied economics at the University of Newcastle. He has previously worked for the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. He joined The Australia Institute in 2010 and has witten and presented on a wide range of economic issues. These include the mining boom's impact on the economy, mining and fossil fuel subsidies, coal seam gas, climate change policy, including renewable energy, and the budget and tax policy. He also teaches economics with a focus on helping people engage in the public debate.
Mark Ogge - Public Engagement Officer
Mark is a fine artist and former Operations Director at Beyond Zero Emissions where he helped initiate and direct the award-winning Zero Carbon Australia 2020 project. At The Australia Institute his role involves engaging industries and communities affected by the expansion of coal and gas mining. This includes communicating key research findings about the impact of the mining boom on other crucial sectors of the Australian economy, especially manufacturing, tourism, education and agriculture. His work takes him to many Australian communities on the frontline of coal and gas extraction and fossil fuel power generation, where he presents the Institute's research findings.
Molly Johnson - Researcher
Molly is a researcher with The Australia Institute's equity research team and has a strong interest in social issues and inequality. In addition to her research work Molly coordinates The Australia Institute's infographics and survey programs. Molly studied at the Australian National University graduating with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Sustainability) with majors in Human Ecology and Global Change Science. She completed an honours thesis looking at how financial and social factors influence farm management.
Tom Burmester – Director of Communications
Tom has recently returned from the US, where he was Director of Green Action Inc. – an unaligned, progressive non-for-profit organization. Prior to that Tom worked as Media Advisor to four Members of the Legislative Assembly of the ACT. Tom studied Sociology and Film at the Australian National University.
Cameron Amos - Communications Advisor
Cameron studied Political Science and International Affairs at the Australian National University with a strong focus on Australia's role as a regional and global leader. He maintains a particular interest in energy policy.
Tom Swann - Researcher
Tom is a student in the Master of Climate Change Program at the Australian National University. He works on fossil fuel divestment, energy and climate policy, and how civic institutions best provide and protect public goods. He has a background in campaigning and is currently spokesperson for Fossil Free ANU.
Barbara Griffiths - Office Manager
Barbara has a wealth of experience in office management and bookkeeping. She has worked for law firms and Capital Monitors at Parliament House.