Cathy Fussell's picture

Cathy Fussell


Contact details

Cathy is currently the Special Adviser on Big Data Strategy at the Australian Government Department of Health. She recently co-led the Social Health and Welfare Analytic Unit in partnership with colleagues from the Departments of Education and Social Services. She has been leading Health’s cross-portfolio engagement on big data analytics projects through the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA). DIPA is a highly collaborative initiative with around 20 participating Australian Government agencies. Through this network Cathy has been collaborating on strategy for the evolution of the government’s big data system and leveraging that system for policy impactful analytics. Her work has also focused on the articulation and delivery of Health’s data and analytics strategy. This has included building departmental capability for big data analytics.

Cathy joined the Australian Government public service in 2001. Since then, she has had a broad range of roles in the health portfolio including policy and program work with a particular focus on primary care (e.g. practice nursing, after hours services, dental, regional networks), legislation, performance reporting, and data analytics projects and strategy. From 2012 to 2015 Cathy was an assistant director at the National Health Performance Authority. Prior to the public service, Cathy worked in medical research at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Western Australia.

PhD programme

Policy and Governance

Topic title

Saving Lives with Big Data – Methods for Policy Impact in Health and Social Systems Data Analytics

Topic description

Cathy’s research focuses on translating big linked data into policy impact.

The Australian Government is on the cusp of a transformation in its use of people-centred data for policy research. Efforts to bring about a fundamental shift in how government shares and uses data are beginning to bear fruit. There has been a cultural shift from risk aversion to seeing government data as a community asset.

Big new datasets linked at the person-level are being created. They will be a game changer for how government designs, delivers, and evaluates its policies and programs. They enable for example, interventions to be linked to outcomes, programs to be investigated in combination rather than silos, and a focus on cohorts of interest.

However, public service agencies struggle to bridge the gap in understanding between data analysts, policy makers, academics and other key contributors to the policy analytics task. Cathy’s research aims to uncover the critical elements of the policy analytics task and how these elements can be embedded in processes, roles and organisational structures. The goal is to fast-track government’s ability to turn big linked data into insights that enhance the wellbeing of Australians; to support Australians live long, healthy, productive and self-sufficient lives.

Scholarships and fellowships

Sir Roland Wilson Scholar 2020

Mailing address

Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
J.G. Crawford Building No. 132
Lennox Crossing
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

Updated:  21 January 2022/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team