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Public Policy Reform, Hospitals and Soup: My Internship at the Grattan Institute

Pumpkin soup

This winter break I was fortunate enough to spend five weeks interning at the Grattan Institute, which is a public policy think tank. The Institute tackles everything from economic reform, to natural gas, and how much Australians pay for pharmaceuticals.

I was allocated to the health team, which is currently focusing on ways to reduce wasted expenditure across the health system. In particular the current projects look to increase access and efficiency in rural areas and hospitals, and assess our purchase of healthcare and pharmaceuticals. As an intern I undertook survey analysis, management of an extensive dataset, presentations, and a literature review looking into workplace substitutions in hospitals.

Although mine was a small part of a larger report that will come out next year, it gave me a good taste of the phases which a report needs to go through, including scoping, analysis, consultation, publication and, in an ideal world, a policy change and of course, celebratory Grattan cake.

The Grattan Institute’s model encourages discussions and collaboration between teams, and at lunchtime every Monday the entire staff would sit down to gourmet soup and bread (that two of the staff members had made).

During my internship there were so many ideas being constantly thrown around that I often found myself getting a coffee in the kitchen only to become engrossed in a discussion on productively or education reform. With so many experts in different fields walking around it was not difficult to become enthralled in a discussion you know nothing about. Although my internship focused on health, these office discussions meant that I also gained insight into the complexities of public policy reform in other areas.

The interesting work, the lovely people, the ever-abundant amount of cake in the kitchen, and the Grattan tradition of Monday gourmet soup were all highlights of my internship. As an intern I acquired new skills in research, data manipulation, analysis and practical reform concepts, but above all else, it was the opportunity to work alongside all the immensely talented people of the Grattan Institute that I’ll value the most.

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