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Holley Jones

Crawford graduate paves the way in climate and health policy 

03 April 2024

Holley Jones embodies the ideal qualities we expect from a graduate of Crawford School of Public Policy. By infusing her unique knowledge and interests into her coursework, she has successfully crafted her dream job with her newly acquired skills.

Holley was raised in Yarrahapinni on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales. She started her career by studying for a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics in Wollongong before working on nutrition and food security interstate and overseas in Timor-Leste, completing a Master’s of Public Health and finally settling in Tasmania in 2015. It was her experiences in all these places that served as the inspiration for her pursuit of climate policy studies.

Holley began working in a public health nutrition role at the Department of Health Tasmania in 2017, and her interest grew in the intersections between healthy and sustainable diets. “I can see how there are so many synergies between good climate, food and health policy, yet we are not making enough progress in the right direction on any of them alone. I was keen to understand the climate side to be more effective at making the links and integrating action,” she told us.

She also mentioned her fascination with the synergies of climate policy and public health policy, where the overlap is stark on topics including the role of communication, misinformation and commercial determinants where harmful industries (like processed food and fossil fuel) and lobbying groups can influence policy.

However, there were some significant tipping points that spurred her to start a new degree – experiences shared by many. These included the persistent flooding in her hometown and across Northern New South Wales, the devastating Black Summer bushfires that forced her to leave her family in NSW and return to Tasmania and flying over the inferno, and, among other factors, the profound impact of becoming a parent, a decision she considers the most substantial investment in the need for a safe future.

She found the time to study as her job at the Department of Health in Tasmania did not involve COVID-19-related work. “During this time some people held up the health system, some people made sourdough- I learnt about climate policy and wrote essays (lots of essays!),” Holley exclaimed.

When deciding where to pursue her studies, the Australian National University was already on her radar. “I knew of the Crawford School through my reading on public policy and exposure through the podcasts (Democracy Sausage and Policy Forum Pod) and the promotion of the course on social media. I had an enthusiastic and helpful response from Associate Professor Bec Colvin when I inquired, and that helped too,” she said.

Holley studied online from Hobart, she expresses that the online format delivered high-quality teaching, proving to be a pleasant surprise.
Holley reminisced about how the academics made content current and comprehensive by bringing in subject experts for guest lectures. “I was very impressed when Professor Frank Jotzo got in the now Public Service Commissioner Dr Gordon de Brouwer to talk about policy negotiation,” Holley added. Professor Frank Jotzo taught us while working on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports which gave us a priceless insight into this significant contribution that guides so much about climate policy.

It was then that she realised the significant expertise and network that Crawford offers.

Holley gained new ideas and inspiration from Associate Professor Bec Colvin’s ‘Communicating for climate and environment policy’ which was run in an engaging and creative way. The challenging assessments helped her to deepen her understanding of the health impacts of climate change, the emissions profile of healthcare operations and the exciting and potentially influential role of health professionals as climate advocates that both policymakers and the public tend to trust.

Holley has now used the Graduate Certificate of Climate Policy to expand her role at the Department of Health Tasmania. She works two part-time roles, continuing with public health nutrition while also taking on the role of the Climate Change and Health Officer. The timing could not have worked out better, as it is a newly created role in Tasmania.

She is now working on increasing awareness of climate and health in Tasmania, helping communities act, and promoting a population approach to climate change and health through the development of policy and strategic frameworks, research, education and training, project development and evaluation. In February 2024, Holley presented at the Food Governance Conference, discussing opportunities for reducing emissions in the food system, drawing from the work she authored during Professor Frank Jotzo’s class.

The ability to integrate her skills in nutrition and climate policy into her work is a fulfilling aspiration. “Working on nutrition and food systems and within climate and health policy is extremely interesting, rewarding and challenging. There are also really great and inspiring people in these fields to keep me motivated and hopeful,” she said. Additionally, with Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy released in December 2023, it is an exciting time to be involved in this work.

Congratulations on your success, Holley! We hope to see you back at Crawford studying for your master’s degree soon.

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Updated:  25 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team