Covid-19 Special roundtable




On 30 March, CPD convened a group of leaders from health, business, policy and philanthropy to discuss Australia’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We held this Covid-19 Special roundtable virtually, in lieu of our 2020 John Menadue Oration, which was to be delivered by Megan Davis on the topic “Can Australia deliver?”. Instead, we asked our guests to help us answer a different question: “How can Australia deliver during (and after) Covid-19?

Experts joining the roundtable included Oxford University’s Ian Goldin, immunologist and Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty, ANZ Chief Economist Richard Yetsenga, Non-executive director Sam Mostyn, APRA Executive Board Member Geoff Summerhayes, and CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly. We heard insights from those at the frontlines in health, finance and service delivery, including Clare Skinner from NSW HealthDon Russell from Australian Super, and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Ben Gauntlett. The full participant list can be found below.

Discussions from the Covid-19 Special roundtable 

Ahead of the Covid-19 Special roundtable, participants were asked to submit ideas about how Australia can deliver during and after Covid-19. These suggestions spanned a range of issues and sectors, and both near and long-term responses, reflecting the breadth of the crisis we are confronting. They included ideas to strengthen health policy and delivery; to address critical issues in care, equity and human services; to boost economic and social capacity; and to improve our governance and institutions. Together, participants reviewed these ideas and discussed other priorities. Our focus was the immediate response to Covid-19 but also how this crisis can inform Australia’s future. A major theme of our discussion was the idea of care and its ongoing importance to the skills, policies and principles for rebuilding Australia’s post-Covid society and economy. We looked at options for restarting industries and communities once the crisis passes, how to keep people engaged amid physical distancing and social isolation, how best to train and upskill surge workforces across public services and the economy, how to make the most of Covid-related actions to deliver health and environmental dividends, and the institutions Australia will need to deal with other systemic risks on the horizon, including future pandemics.

CPD will work with participants to develop several of the ideas presented. We will advance them as appropriate to the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission, parliamentary processes, philanthropy, businesses and community organisations. We would like to thank participants for their time and contribution. We look forward to an ongoing conversation with them and our wider network about Australia’s response to the challenges ahead.

CPD’s mission is to build better policy for the long term. The immediate challenges we face locally, nationally and globally are more profound than at any moment in recent history. Decisions and developments in the days, weeks and months ahead will fundamentally shape Australia’s society, environment and economy for years to come.  Now is the time for clear analysis, good ideas, strong values and effective partnerships. All of us have a duty to contribute. We have been heartened that colleagues in think tanks, NGOs, business, social services and government are rising to the challenge. Like everyone, we are inspired by the resilience and resolve of medics, educators, carers, cleaners, friends and families at the frontlines of this crisis. At CPD, we will continue our existing work: connecting vulnerable people to jobs, building better services for disadvantaged communities, shaping an economy that is more resilient to climate and other risks, and pushing Australia to lead on regional challenges like forced migration and displacement. We will respond to the crisis by connecting experts, uncovering the best ideas, and getting them in the right hands – focussing on both immediate responses and the recovery to come.

Key documents from the Covid-19 Special roundtable