Recent projects

2020 was a challenging year to establish a new model for university-government policy engagement but one which provided numerous opportunities to develop and refine a place-based and outcomes-focused policy engagement model.

Project overview

The COVID-19 Tasmanian Risk Assessment Project provided high-quality modelling of the likely impact of COVID-19 on the Tasmanian community and health system for a range of scenarios. By early April 2020 the project team, in partnership with Mimesis Analytics, produced a sophisticated epidemiological (SEIR) model to inform both the University’s and Tasmanian Government’s COVID-19-related strategies and policies.

Project Team

  • Professor Richard Eccleston, TPE Director and project lead
  • Professor Rufus Black, Strategic leadership
  • Marie-Jeanne Buscot, Menzies Institute, Modelling
  • Dr Akhtar Hussain, Menzies Institute, Clinical evidence and advice
  • Oliver Gales, TPE, Data and policy analysis
  • Lachie Johnson, TPE, Data and policy analysis
  • Associate Professor Fay Johnston, UTAS – Government liaison

Project Partner

  • Mimesis Analytics, Model development

Outputs and Impact

  • UTAS COVID-19 Modelling Project: Update #1, 1 May 2020
  • UTAS COVID-19 Modelling Project: Update #2, 14 May 2020
  • UTAS COVID-19 Modelling Project: Update #3, 1 June 2020
  • In addition to regular written updates the project team provided regular briefings to key government agencies and officials leading the Tasmanian COVID-19 response

Graph visualising the growth of COVID cases in the first half of 2020

Project Overview

The traQ Study provided the first detailed agent-based modelling of the effectiveness of different quarantine and testing regimes, including the efficacy of differing quarantine lengths and their implications for risk of COVID-19 transmission, for incoming travellers. This project was a partnership with the Burnet Institute and Monash University and was developed to assess the theoretical risks associated with Tasmania’s hotel quarantine regime and the possible managed resumption of international student travel to Tasmania.

The model has subsequently been used to explore a range of quarantine and testing scenarios, enabling risk-based, real-time policy adaptation and tailored solutions for different jurisdictions of traveller origin. The model also allows the economic benefits of domestic and international travel from specific countries and the cost of various quarantine strategies to be estimated.

Project Partners

Contributing UTAS staff

  • Professor Richard Eccleston, TPE Director and project lead
  • Marie-Jeanne Buscot, Menzies Institute, Modelling
  • Oliver Gales, TPE, Data and policy analysis

Project Outputs and Impact

The model was presented to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and has informed the ongoing deliberations of National Cabinet in relation to hotel quarantine. Project briefings were also provided for the Premier of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Director of Public Health and the analysis has informed the University of Tasmania’s international structure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. TraQ Study: Transparent Risk Assessment of Quarantine: Final report, November 2020
  2. Project PowerPoint presentation (PPTX)

Project Overview

Given that Tasmania, as a global leader in renewable energy generation, has the potential to make a major contribution to Australia's transition to a low-carbon economy, the University of Tasmania is committed to contributing to the development of Tasmania's renewable energy future. Reflecting this focus, the TPE has prepared the University's submissions to the development of the Draft Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan (TREAP), and the Draft Renewable Energy Coordination Framework.

The submission to the TREAP, which incorporated contributions from 25 UTAS staff with energy expertise, supported that Plan's target of doubling renewable energy generation in Tasmania by 2040, together with the following actions: identify and address the potential risks associated with the TREAP; maximise and promote the long-term benefits of the TREAP for Tasmania; use increased renewable energy generation to develop new low-carbon industries, and; develop Tasmania's “brand' as a sustainable, innovative, low-carbon economy.

The submission to the draft Renewable Energy Coordination Framework argues that a carefully designed and transparent framework for the funding and approval of new renewable energy projects in Tasmania will deliver a number of benefits which will support the implementation of the TREAP.

Project Outputs and Impact

Project Overview

The University has a strong interest in ensuring that the Tasmanian State Service (TSS) can effectively respond to the emerging needs and aspirations of all Tasmanians. The University also believes that closer engagement and collaboration between the University and the TSS would benefit both organisations and the wider community. To these ends, the TPE has contributed to the Review of Tasmania's State Service.

Project Partners

  • Professor David Adams
  • Professor Richard Eccleston

Project Output

Project Overview

The TPE was contracted by the Government of Tasmania to conduct an independent review of the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 (the VAD Bill). The Independent Review's Terms of Reference required that a Review Panel be established to prepare a report to inform Members of Parliament as they considered the VAD Bill. As part of the review process, the Panel accepted written submissions from the public. The Review was completed in February 2021.

The development of voluntary assisted dying legislation in Australia

Project Partners

The Review Panel

  • Professor Richard Eccleston (Chairperson), TPE
  • Professor Fran McInerney, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
  • Professor Margaret Otlowski, School of Law
  • Associate Professor Jenny Presser, School of Medicine

Support Staff

  • Madeleine Archer, TPE policy intern and UTAS Science/Law graduate
  • Sarah Hyslop, TPE Project Manager
  • Hollie Jackson, TPE policy intern and UTAS Arts/Law graduate

Outputs

Impact

The Review report was commissioned to provide Members of the Tasmanian House of Assembly with comprehensive analysis of the proposed VAD Bill and therefore made a key contribution to the passage of the Bill in March 2021. Not only did it provide contextual and comparative analysis but also a number of specific recommendations made in the review were adopted in the final Bill, including that any list maintained by the VAD Commission of VAD health practitioners only feature the names of those practitioners who have advised the Commission that they are willing to have their names included on the list. The TPE/UTAS will be assisting the Tasmanian Department of Health with the implementation of the VAD regime.

Project Overview

Reflecting its expertise in regional employment and development, the TPE was commissioned by the Department of State Growth to review models for providing regional employment services including the Tasmanian Employment Partnership – Jobs Action Package.

Project Partners

  • Professor David Adams
  • Professor Richard Eccleston

Output

  • Tasmanian Employment Partnership – Jobs Action Package: Mid-point review of design and process 2017-2020, March 2021

Impact

  • The report informed PESRAC's recommendation to establish regional employment hubs, or Jobs Tasmania Local Networks, across Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government's decision to invest $13.827 million in the model (Delivering local jobs local people).

Project Overview

Reflecting the University of Tasmania's commitment to supporting Tasmania's transition to a low-carbon economy and society, the TPE coordinated a university-wide submission to the State Government's Climate Action Plan and Review of the Climate Change Act. The submission argues that Tasmania should adopt legislated sectoral emissions targets to deliver a 50% reduction in gross emissions by 2030, from 2005 levels, across the transport, energy, industry, agriculture and waste sectors. Such action would drive innovation in low-carbon industries and technologies and would deliver significant and authentic branding opportunities. The submission further argues that more needs to be done to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and suggests that the State Government supports the development of sectoral adaptation plans.

Tasmania's annual mean climate temperature anomaly, 1920-2020
(data source: BOM)

Project Partners

  • 24 University of Tasmania researchers and staff contributed to the submission.

Project output

Project Overview

The University of Tasmania has been a research partner on the Tasmanian Government's Anticipatory Care Action Learning Project. The project has seen four communities around Tasmania try out new ways of delivering anticipatory care. The four communities are Ulverstone, Flinders Island, Northern suburbs of Launceston, and Clarence. The research component of this innovative project was designed to develop and test new approaches to improving wellbeing and enhancing health equity in Tasmania.

Locations of the four Anticipatory Care Action Learning sites

More information on the program, including detailed project and evaluation reports, is available on the Tasmanian Government's project website.

Project Partners

  • Dr Susan Banks, Project Lead and Research Fellow, TPE
  • Therese Murray
  • Miriam Vandenburg
  • Robin Crabbe

Project Outputs

Project Overview

The TPE was commissioned by the Department of Communities Tasmania to undertake an evaluation of the Strong Families Safe Kids (SFSK) project. SFSK was an ambitious project designed to reform the child protection system in Tasmania. It involved the adoption of a contemporary public health approach to child protection (now termed child safety), incorporating best practice principles and changing understandings of child safety by situating it within a broader understanding of child wellbeing; as well as changing community understandings of responsibilities with respect to supporting the wellbeing and safety of children.

The TPE undertook an extensive evaluation of the project, including interviewing 123 individuals from across government and non-government agencies; interviewing clients of child safety services; developing a survey; and analysing primary outcome indicators for out-of-home care. More information on SFSK can be found at Strong Families, Safe Kids.

Project Partners

  • Dr Kim Jose, Lead Researcher
  • Sarah Hyslop
  • Dr Ron Frey
  • Anneke Le Roux

Project Outputs