Per Capita is an independent public policy think tank in Australia. The organisation was launched on 11 April 2007 at the State Library of Victoria. Its founders were Evan Thornley, Joshua Funder, Anthony Kitchener, Jane-Frances Kelly, Dennis Glover and Emma Dawson. Its founding Executive Director was David Hetherington and founding Policy Director was Michael Cooney.[1]

Per Capita
TypePublic policy think tank
Founded11 April 2007
Key people
Emma Dawson (Executive Director)


Per Capita works to build a new vision for Australia based on fairness, shared prosperity and social justice[2]

Per Capita describes their research and policy prescriptions as “rigorous, evidence-based and long-term in outlook... focused on the challenges for the next generations rather than the next election cycle.”[3] Their publications and activities are intended to deepen political, social and economic democracy.[3]

[3]Approach to public policyEdit

Per Capita’s approach to public policy challenges the dominant narrative that disadvantage arises from personal fault or failure by pointing out the policy choices that have deepened inequality and proposing alternative choices that will lessen it.

Their policy analysis and recommended solutions seek to recognise the challenges, and work within the complex economic, political and social conditions, of our age, such as:

· The impact of rapid climate change and extreme weather events;

· Growing economic inequality, with increasing returns to capital and a decline in returns to labour;

· The growing difficulty of accessing good jobs, adequate income support and secure housing; and

· The negative effects of privatisation and the deliberate shrinking of essential public services.

In doing so, they strive to incorporate new thinking in social science and economics, innovative ways of working with data, and effective evaluation tools to measure outcomes. Per Capita also engages actively with organisations across society, including the union movement, civil society, the community sector, academia, business, government and the public service, and social change movements.

In all Per Capita's work, they seek to understand and highlight the experiences of those who bear the brunt of the effects of policy choices that exacerbate inequality, including underpaid and exploited workers, people who can’t get a decent job, women, First Nations people, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disability and their carers, migrants and refugees, and others who are marginalised by our economic and social structures and denied their fair share of power and resources.

The democracy Per Capita works for is one that shares its knowledge, wealth and power, to ensure all its citizens can live meaningful and fulfilling lives, able to take care of each other and of our shared planet.


Per Capita’s research influenced the Australian Labor Party’s policy framework heading into the 2022 Australian Federal Election.[4]

The party’s stance on investing in the care economy, including aged care, child care and disability care, aligns with research Per Capita presented.[4]

The ALP’s commitment to a full employment framework is likely also influenced by Per Capita’s research.[4]

The Albanese Government pledged free TAFE for Australians studying in areas skills shortage - a policy recommended by Per Capita in their 2020 research paper “Coming of Age in a Crisis”.[5]

Per Capita’s research on Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme suggested the scheme generates an economic return of AU$2.25 for every dollar spent,[6] a figure often quoted by the media and Bill Shorten, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.[7]

Research AreasEdit

Per Capita's research areas include affordable housing, Australia’s transition to a post-carbon economy, work and workers, gender equality, ageing, progressive economics, education and social innovation.[8]

Per Capita has two Research Centres dedicated to specific research areas:

The Centre for New Industry aims to create policy solutions that support a “mission-oriented approach to industrial policy… economic diversification, decarbonisation and democratisation”.[9]

The Centre for Equitable Housing aims to provide research, policy advice and public engagement on housing affordability related issues.[10]

Board of directorsEdit

  • Jacob Varghese (Chair)
  • Dee Madigan
  • David Hetherington
  • Gemma Pinnell
  • Rod Glover


As of October 2020, Per Capita has nine research fellows.[11]

  • Dr John Falzon
  • Tanja Kovac
  • Dennis Glover
  • David Hetherington
  • Osmond Chiu
  • Warwick Smith
  • Shireen Morris
  • Julie Connolly
  • Tim Lyons
  • Dennis Glover


  1. ^ "Per Capita - About Us". Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  2. ^ "About". Per Capita. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "About". Per Capita. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "Per Capita Impact Report 201-22" (PDF). Per Capita. Retrieved 27 March 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Coming of Age in a Crisis: Young Workers, COVID-19, and the Youth Guarantee". Per Capita. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  6. ^ "False Economy: The economic benefits of the NDIS and the consequences of government cost-cutting". Per Capita. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  7. ^ "ABC Insiders". 12 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Our Work". Per Capita. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  9. ^ "The Centre for New Industry – A PerCapita Initiative". Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  10. ^ "The Centre for Equitable Housing works". 10 January 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  11. ^ "About - Per Capita". Retrieved 20 October 2020.

External linksEdit