About

Per Capita is an independent progressive think tank, dedicated to fighting inequality in Australia. We work to build a new vision for Australia based on fairness, shared prosperity, community and social justice.
Our research is rigorous, evidence-based and long-term in its outlook. We consider the national challenges of the next decade rather than the next election cycle. We ask original questions and offer fresh solutions, drawing on new thinking in social science, economics and public policy.
Per Capita’s operating model is to invest in highly qualified researchers who work on applied policy development, rather than the more abstract, theoretical approaches of academia.
Our audience is the interested public, not just experts and policy makers. We engage all Australians who want to see rigorous thinking and evidence-based analysis applied to the issues facing our country’s future.

Our Staff

Emma Dawson

Executive Director

Emma Dawson is the Executive Director of Per Capita. Formerly, she was a senior advisor on Digital Inclusion at Telstra, Executive Director of the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society at the University of Melbourne, and a senior policy advisor in the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Emma has published articles and opinion pieces on a wide range of public policy issues, which have appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Guardian, The Australian, and a number of online publications. She is a regular panellist on The Drum on ABC TV and various Sky News programs.

Emma holds a BA with First Class Honours from LaTrobe University and an MA with Distinction from Monash. She sits on the board of the Prader-Willi Research Foundation Australia and is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

Myfan Jordan

Director, Social Innovation

Myfan Jordan is the Director of Social Innovation at Per Capita’s Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing (CAPPA). Myfan spent 25 years studying and working in the UK, focusing mainly on community involvement, social housing, policy and advocacy, until returning to live in Melbourne in 2011.

Myfan is passionate about the meaningful participation of (particularly) older people and has worked in various roles supporting this including Pensioner Action in the UK, Older Families Program at Commonwealth Respite and between 2013-2017 at Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria.

Myfan has a BA (Hons) in Social Policy from the University of Sussex and a Masters in Cultural and Media Studies. She has a Diploma in Social Sciences: Crime, Order and Social Control from the Open University, reflecting her particular interest in hate crime. Myfan is an Associate to the Healthy Ageing Research Group at La Trobe University.

Edith Rodriguez

Office and Accounts Manager

Edith Rodriguez is the Office and Accounts Manager at Per Capita. She has several years of finance experience working within the tertiary education sector in Australia. Edith also advocates in a variety of topics including education, women’s empowerment, housing security, and international development and human rights, with a focus on women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health. Following this path, Edith has volunteered internationally helping asylum seekers and refugees to find a better life.

Edith’s educational background includes a BA (Hons) in Accounting from the Universidad Intercontinental in Mexico and a Master of Development Studies from The University of Melbourne specialising in Gender.

Warwick Smith

Senior Economist

Warwick Smith works in Per Capita’s Centre for Applied Policy for Positive Ageing (CAPPA) and in our Progressive Economics program.

Warwick has previously worked as a research economist, consultant and freelance writer. His particular areas of expertise and interest include the economics of ageing populations, environmental economics, taxation economics and the history and philosophy of economics. For three years Warwick was a member of the Australian Greens Policy Coordination Committee and the Australian Greens Victoria Policy Coordination Committee, contributing to the development of both national and state policy platforms. Warwick also has a background in evolutionary and conservation biology.

Warwick has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the ANU. He is an Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Inquiry at the University of Melbourne.

Abigail Lewis

Outreach and Engagement Coordinator

Abigail Lewis is Per Capita’s Outreach and Engagement Coordinator.

Abigail holds the Northcote Graduate Scholarship at the University of Melbourne, where she is studying for a Master of International Relations. She has policy experience in migration and international development, distinctive academic credentials in a wide range of policy fields, and strong experience in media, communications, and project management.

Abigail has worked for the Refugee Council of Australia, and as Communications Director for Live Below the Line, in which role she was nominated for a Golden Radiator Award for ethical communications.

Research Fellows

David Hetherington

Senior Fellow

David Hetherington is Executive Director of the Public Education Foundation and a Senior Fellow at Per Capita, where he was the founding Executive Director.  He has previously worked at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London and at L.E.K. Consulting in Sydney, Munich and Auckland.

David has written over 100 major reports, book chapters and opinion pieces on Australian public policy.  His writing has been published or cited in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian, The Economist, The Guardian, Quartz, The Australian Financial Review, The New Daily and Australian Quarterly.  He was the Chair of the People’s Inquiry into Privatisation and a Commissioner of the Inclusive Prosperity Commission.

David has a BA with First Class Honours from UNSW and an MPA with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Dennis Glover

Dennis Glover is an Australian writer and novelist. The son of factory workers, Dennis grew up in the working class Melbourne suburb of Doveton before studying at Monash University and King’s College Cambridge where he was awarded a PhD in history. He has worked for two decades as an academic, newspaper columnist, policy adviser and speechwriter to Australia’s most senior political, business and community leaders. An often outspoken political commentator, his books include An Economy is not a SocietyThe Art of Great Speeches and Orwell’s Australia. His debut novel The Last Man in Europe tells the dramatic story of how George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. Dennis is a founding member of Per Capita.

Stephen Koukoulas

Stephen Koukoulas is Managing Director of Market Economics, a firm focused on independent macroeconomic analysis.

Stephen has been working in economics for 30 years including in banking, financial markets, government and policy formulation. Stephen has been the global head of economic research and strategy for TD Securities in London, Senior Economic Advisor to the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, worked in the Commonwealth Treasury.

Stephen also spent 5 years at Citibank Australia, including as Chief Economist. He started his career in the Commonwealth Treasury in the mid 1980s.

Stephen is currently a widely sort after keynote speaker, Economics Advisor to illion (formerly Dun & Bradstreet), a Research Fellow at Per Capita and writes regular analysis and opinion pieces for The Guardian, Yahoo 7 Finance and The Constant Investor.

Philip Taylor

Research Fellow, CAPPA

Philip has almost 30 years of experience as an expert researcher, policy writer and governmental and NGO advisor on workforce ageing. His interests include individual orientations to work and retirement, employer behaviour towards older workers and international developments in public policy aimed at extending working life. These years of professional endeavour, which embrace diverse academic and community settings, have been carried out in a broad, high-level, international context.

Philip has led, and been an active senior member of, teams investigating, consulting and collaborating in critical areas of ageing and associated topics. He has taken a leading role in designing and implementing intelligent policy and program solutions to the many issues raised by workforce ageing. He is frequently invited to address major national and international conferences, maintains membership of national and international committees and has a current, leading role in Australian and international research groups.

Tim Lyons

Tim Lyons is a Research Fellow at think-tank Per Capita, Deputy Chairman of large Industry Superannuation Fund, and a Director of a state-owned utility.

Tim works with unions and NGOs as a partner in Reveille Strategy Pty Ltd.

Tim had 20 years experience in the trade union movement as an organiser, advocate, policy specialist and senior leader. After 13 years with the National Union of Workers, he spent 7 years as the Assistant Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions until 2015 where he was responsible for organising programs and led the work program on labour law, economics and pensions.

Tim has been also member of Federal Government boards and expert working groups on workplace relations, taxation, superannuation, procurement and industry policy. Tim has had Australian and international leadership experience in relation to superannuation and retirement incomes policy, ESG and capital stewardship. Tim has had a long –term work focus on governance, compliance and accountability issues as a director, manager and leader.

Tim works, speaks & writes on organising, labour, tax, governance and finance. His writing has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The AFR, The Australian, The Saturday Paper and Meanjin.  He tweets @picketer.

Our Board

Helen Conway

Chair

Helen Conway is a non-executive director. She is a director of Westpac Life, St George Life, Westpac General Insurance, Westpac Lenders Mortgage Insurance, Endeavour Energy, Catholic Schools NSW and ReachOut Australia (an on line mental health service for youth). She is also an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Institute for Business and Economics at the University of Queensland and a mentor with Kilfinan Australia. Previous directorships include Catholic Healthcare, Sydney Ferries, Aon Superannuation and Caltex Superannuation.

Helen had a successful career as a lawyer and senior executive. Following 10 years in private practice as a lawyer, including 7 years as a partner in a major law firm in Sydney, she moved into the corporate sector where she worked as a senior executive in the insurance, transport, energy, retail and construction sectors over 18 years. From 2011 to 2015, Helen served as the CEO of the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, a statutory authority with regulatory and other responsibilities.

Joshua Funder

Director

Joshua Funder is an entrepreneur and investor focused on Australasian healthcare and financial services.

Dr Funder has served as chairman and director of US and Australian companies including Celladon (NASDAQ:CLDN), Peplin (ASX: PLI) and Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and is a winner of the AVCAL early stage investment award. He previously worked at Infinity Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery start-up in Boston, at BCG in San Francisco, and with the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative where he successfully negotiated reduced prices for anti-retrovirals and initiate pharmaceutical supplies across eastern and southern Africa.

Joshua earned B.Sc. and LL.B. degrees at Melbourne University, an LL.M. degree at the London School of Economics and a D.Phil in intellectual property for biotechnology from Oxford University.

Geoff Gallop AC

Director

After an academic career in Australia and Britain, Geoff Gallop was a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly from 1986 to 2006. He was a Minister in the Lawrence Labor Government from 1990 to 1993, Leader of the Opposition from 1996 to 2001, and from 2001 to 2006 Premier of Western Australia. As Premier he initiated a wide-ranging programme of political, social, economic and environmental reform, built around his commitment to the sustainability principle.
After retiring from politics, he became Professor and Director of Sydney University’s Graduate School of Government, a position he held until 2015. There he taught public sector management and successfully bid for and delivered a range of public sector leadership programmes in Africa and South- East Asia. He was also a regular participant in programmes run by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.
Amongst other post-politics advisory positions, he was Deputy Chair of the COAG Reform Council (2007 to 2011), a Member of the National Health and Hospitals Commission (2008 to 2009) and Chair of the Australia Awards Board (2011 to 2013). From 2012 to 2015 he was Chair of the Australian Republican Movement. Currently he chairs the Education Committee of the New Democracy Foundation and is on the Board of Per Capita, a public policy think-tank.
He’s a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Public Administration, Emeritus Professor at Sydney University and an Adjunct Professor at Curtin University’s John Curtin Institute of Public policy.
In 2008, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.

David Hetherington

Director

David Hetherington is Executive Director of the Public Education Foundation and a Senior Fellow at Per Capita, where he was the founding Executive Director.  He has previously worked at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London and at L.E.K. Consulting in Sydney, Munich and Auckland.

David has written over 100 major reports, book chapters and opinion pieces on Australian public policy.  His writing has been published or cited in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian, The Economist, The Guardian, Quartz, The Australian Financial Review, The New Daily and Australian Quarterly.  He was the Chair of the People’s Inquiry into Privatisation and a Commissioner of the Inclusive Prosperity Commission.

David has a BA with First Class Honours from UNSW and an MPA with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Maxine McKew

Director

Maxine McKew is an author and Hon Fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. Her most recent book, published by Melbourne University Press in 2014, is Class Act – a study of the key challenges in Australian schooling. This publication followed the success of her memoir, Tales From the Political Trenches, an account of her brief but tumultuous time in the Federal Parliament.

Maxine McKew’s background traverses both journalism and politics. For many years she was a familiar face to ABC TV viewers and was anchor of prestigious programmes such as the 7.30 Report and Lateline. Her work has been recognized by her peers with both Walkely and Logie awards. When she left journalism and made the switch to politics, she wrote herself into the Australian history books by defeating Prime Minister John Howard in the Sydney seat of Bennelong. In government she was both parliamentary secretary for early childhood and later, for regional development and local government.

Maxine lives in Melbourne and is a director of Per Capita and the John Cain Foundation. In 2015 she was also appointed to serve on the board of the State Library of Victoria.

Jacob Varghese

Director

Jacob Varghese is CEO of social justice law firm Maurice Blackburn.

Jacob first joined Maurice Blackburn in 2002, leaving several years later to work as a political adviser in Canberra before returning to the firm in 2006. He became Maurice Blackburn CEO in 2017.

Jacob is driven by his belief that everyone should be able to access justice and be treated equally. His legal experience includes running complex class actions and overseeing Maurice Blackburn’s social justice practice. Jacob also provided legal input to the firm’s litigation funding business, Claims Funding Australia.

As CEO, Jacob combines his experience as a top litigator with strategic and lateral approaches to legal matters and his broader view of the political landscape. He holds Honours in Laws from the University of Melbourne.

Marion Webster OAM

Director

Marion Webster was the founding Executive Director of the Philanthropy Australia and then National Manager Charitable Trusts ANZ Trustees. She was the CEO of welfare agencies and now practices as a consultant to the not for profit sector, philanthropy and government.

She has served on the boards of a number of organisations, bringing particular expertise in the area of board governance and efficiency. She is the co-founder of Fitted for Work, a national service to assist women experiencing disadvantage obtain and keep work.

Central to the development of the first community foundation Australian Communities Foundation, Marion is its immediate past Chair. She is also a Board Member of the Auckland Communities Foundation in New Zealand and the immediate past Chair of the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture park in Tasmania.

Marion is currently joint Executive Director of Kilfinan Australia, an organisation set up to build the leadership capacity of NFP leaders through mentoring.

In 2003, she was Locum Director of Community Foundation Network in the UK.

In 2004 she was awarded an OAM for her services to philanthropy and the community.