Anna Fieldhouse

Anna’s research considers the regulatory governance of welfare services and the role of civil society as intermediaries representing marginalised welfare service users. Her thesis looks at regulatory governance eco-systems as a way of understanding how actors come together to drive or impede reform, how discourses move across governance spaces. Her thesis raises normative questions about whether the democratic ideals of representation and participation embedded governance sites are realised in the regulatory welfare state.

The research focuses on two regulatory communities – disability and aged care in Australia. It draws evidence from civil society submissions to recent Australian Royal Commissions into the abuse and neglect to identify governance narratives and networks. Interviews with civil society leaders adds to the empirical study examining the mechanisms and processes of representation used to bring the voice of marginalised welfare service users into the regulation of critical social services. Her research takes a normative case study approach to shed light on the democratic ideals that are little challenged in non-majoritarian governance environments.

Anna comes to RegNet with extensive experience in social policy design, including in the development of responsive regulatory systems. She holds a position as Policy Director in the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS). Her career has included policy and operational leadership roles in government and non-government organisations in the homelessness, domestic violence, mental health and disability sectors. Anna’s more recent focus has been on designing regulatory systems for welfare services, including developing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguards Commission, established in 2018. As a 2020 Sir Roland Wilson PhD Scholar, her research was selected in a highly competitive process as likely to make a significant contribution to public policy and the Australian Public Service.