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An independent review into
Australia’s response to COVID-19

20 October 2022

‘Fault lines: An independent review into Australia’s response to COVID-19’, is the first independent review of Australia’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The review has found that key groups were excluded from financial support, some lockdowns and border closures were avoidable and schools should have remained open. It sounds a warning to governments against the perils of overreach when dealing with future health crises. Low socio-economic families, women, children, aged care residents, people with disabilities, temporary migrants, multicultural communities, and others already experiencing disadvantage bore the brunt of the pandemic.

Funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, the Minderoo Foundation and the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation, the independent review was chaired by Peter Shergold AC, with a panel comprising Jillian Broadbent AC, Isobel Marshall and Peter Varghese AO. The e61 Institute supported the panel through providing substantial research, data analysis, policy analysis and leading an extensive consultation process.


The independent panel included Peter Shergold AC (Chair), Jillian Broadbent AC, Isobel Marshall and Peter Varghese AO.

Peter Shergold AC

Peter Shergold was for 20 years a senior executive in the Australian Public Service, including five years as Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He is presently Chancellor of Western Sydney University. Peter chairs a range of public, private and community organisations, including Opal HealthCare, the NSW Education Standards Authority, Joblife, the James Martin Institute for Public Policy, and the AMP Foundation . He is the NSW Coordinator General for Settlement and sits on the Board of Australia for UNHCR.

Jillian Broadbent AC

Jillian Broadbent is a director at Macquarie Group Limited. She was Chancellor of the University of Wollongong and the inaugural Chair of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. She has served on the Boards of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Woolworths Limited, Swiss Re Life and Health Australia Limited, ASX Limited, Special Broadcasting Corporation, Qantas Airways Limited, Westfield Property Trusts, Woodside Petroleum Limited and Coca-Cola Amatil Limited. She was a Panel Member of APRA’s Prudential Inquiry into Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s governance, culture and accountability. Jillian is on the board of the Sydney Dance Company, and was a board member of National Portrait Gallery, Sydney Theatre Company, NIDA, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and the Art Gallery of NSW. In 2019 Jillian was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for her contribution to corporate, financial, clean energy and cultural organisations, to higher education and to women in business.

Isobel Marshall

Isobel Marshall was awarded the 2021 Young Australian of The Year award for her work co-founding TABOO, a social enterprise dedicated to ending period poverty. Throughout the last 5 years of growing the business, Isobel has focused on advocating for reproductive healthcare and gender equality with a goal of reforming the social and structural factors that perpetuate period poverty. Through this work, TABOO has championed the role of business in finding sustainable solutions to social and environmental issues. Having stepped back from this role, Isobel is now focused on her medical studies at The University of Adelaide. She is also a member of the Premier’s Council for Women; a council dedicated to providing leadership and advice to the South Australian Government in respect to the needs and interests of women.

Peter Varghese AO

Peter Varghese is in his second term as Chancellor of The University of Queensland. He has served previously as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, High Commissioner to India, High Commissioner to Malaysia, Director-General of Australia’s peak intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments, and Senior Advisor (International) to the Prime Minister. Mr Varghese was the author in 2018 of a comprehensive India Economic Strategy to 2035 commissioned by the Australian Prime Minister. Mr Varghese sits on the boards of CARE Australia and North Queensland Airports and chairs Asialink’s advisory council. He sits on the international governing board of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and has been an advisor to several companies on international affairs.

Secretariat – e61 Institute

The Independent Panel was supported by the e61 Institute which undertook consultations, research and analysis to support the Review. The e61 Institute is a not-for-profit economic research institute. The Institute combines innovative data with state-of-the-art tools from economics, data science and statistics to answer the most important economic questions facing Australia. The e61 Institute was born from a motivation to bring together problem-solvers from academia, industry and government to push the knowledge frontier so that we can tackle the big problems facing our society.