Skip to main content
Vanessa Picker

Vanessa Picker DPhil

Research Fellow

Research interests

  • Policy
  • Economics
  • Community
  • Employment


Vanessa is a Research Fellow at the Policy Institute, with expertise in areas such as social impact investment, outcomes measurement and data-driven policy making. Her research interests focus on evaluating interventions targeting critical economic and community development challenges, such as poverty, intergenerational welfare dependency, and youth unemployment. Additionally, she specialises in health policy issues, particularly in the realm of mental health. She is intrigued by the diffusion of public sector innovation and applies organisational institutionalism to understand how and why certain innovations spread.

Vanessa has gained extensive experience working for government departments in Australia, at both the State and Federal level. She was a member of the specialised taskforce, within the Federal Department of Social Services, responsible for implementing the AUD$20.7m Investment Approach to Welfare. This involved using actuarial valuations, predictive analytics and targeted to reduce long-term reliance on income support. She has also served as Assistant Director of the Health Economics section, and the Evaluation and Strategic Advice section, at the Federal Department of Health. At a state level, she worked for the Office of Social Impact Investment (NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet), where she played a key role in bringing social impact investment transactions to market and supporting existing transactions.

Vanessa completed her DPhil (PhD) and MSc studies, in Evidence-Based Social Intervention & Policy Evaluation (EBSIPE), at the University of Oxford, as a Clarendon scholar and a Rotary scholar. She gained teaching experience, alongside her DPhil studies, for instance, through teaching on the Master of Public Policy Program at the Blavatnik School of Government (University of Oxford), and on the EBSIPE Master’s program. Vanessa also holds a Master of Politics and Public Policy (Macquarie University, Australia) and a Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (University of Adelaide, Australia).