EP#101:  A masterclass in human-centred design in the public sector

On today’s Work with Purpose episode, Dr Nina Terry, Bec Bodel and Professor Brenton Prosser help you learn the ropes of human-centred design.

In today’s complex world, how can the public sector effectively ensure that its policies and programs are centred on the needs of the people they serve?  This episode explores human-centered design as one piece to solving this puzzle.

Host David Pembroke convenes class with three leading experts in the design space: Bec Bodel from the Australian Taxation Office, Brenton Prosser from UNSW Canberra, and Dr Nina Terrey from ThinkPlace. Together, they walk through the most important parts of the design process and discuss how empathy, creativity, and strategic thinking can truly make a difference to policy and service delivery for Australia’s communities. Our guests also share practical tips and resources for you to hit the books and start your own design journey.  

Discussed in this episode:

  • The importance of understanding your purpose
  • The main steps in a human-centred design process
  • Embracing diverse perspectives
  • Practical tools and techniques for incorporating design thinking into your work
  • Building internal design capabilities in your organisation
  • Creating spaces for open and honest dialogue in policy design
  • Connecting with like-minded individuals to foster innovation.

Show Notes:


Brenton Prosser

Brenton Prosser is a professor of public policy and leadership at UNSW Canberra, leading major research in co-design with Australian public sector leaders. He has directed the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, specialising in social modeling and evaluation methodologies.

With over 20 years of research experience in Australia, the UK, and the US, Brenton is known for his work in mental health, medicalisation, and ADHD public policy. He has served as a senior researcher, chief-of-staff to a crossbench senator, policy director, and senior public servant. Author of five books, Brenton’s research interests include politics, governance, public policy, public trust, democratic engagement, and mental health.

Dr Nina Terrey

Dr Nina Terrey is a world-recognised designer specialising in complex system transformation, working with governments, industry leaders, and communities to tackle pressing environmental and social issues. Co-founder of ThinkPlace Global, an award-winning strategy, design, and innovation company, Nina leads initiatives in sustainability and innovation at scale.

Nina holds several adjunct academic positions with leading Australian universities and was a visiting scholar at Parsons School of Design. She is a published author, co-authoring Design for a Better Future and currently working on a book with Harvard University. Nina holds a PhD in design, focusing on public policy and service delivery, and is pursuing a Masters in Sustainability at Harvard Extension School.

Bec Bodel

Bec Bodel is a design leader with over a decade’s experience in solving public sector problems. She is the acting assistant commissioner of behavioural insights and design at the Australian Taxation Office, leading teams of behavioural insights advisors, research analysts, and designers.

Bec has worked across several government agencies, including the ABS, the Department of Industry, Treasury and the ATO. She has tackled complex problems such as deregulation, mental health in the APS, taxpayer engagement, and support for small business support measures in COVID.