Day 1 Stream Sessions – The Fundamentals 

The fundamental elements that are critical in developing behavioural insights trials are the three D’s: Data, Design and Delivery. Select a stream to hear senior policymakers, academics, and practitioners talk about their experience and specific case studies.

Stream 1 - Data

Ms Cheryl-Lea Field, Deputy Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office

  • Download Cheryl-Lea Field's presentation (PDF)
  • In 2010 the Australian Tax Office (ATO) started to look at how behavioural economics could help use their data. The ATO are now doing the reverse and looking at how data can help enhance the development of better system to address debt. The ATO use data to help design Randomised Controlled Trials. There were two phases to this approach:
  • Phase one – The ATO looked at debt collection letters. They added in social norms and clearer calls to action and then tested these improved letters using a RCT with 1,000 people in the treatment group and 1,000 in the control group. This resulted in 4.3% increase in payment arrangements and 6.8% increase in full or partial payments.
  • Phase two – This phase looked at thelarge portion of people who lodged their tax return late or not at all. The ATO co-designed a solution with the tax practitioners. They used data to identify what the social norm was and used this data to benchmark people’s performance against their peers. This had a large impact (400,000 additional returns lodged on time and a 32% increase in tax agents lodging on time).

Tam Shepherd, General Manager, Digital Transformation Division, Department of Human Services

  • View Tam Shepherd's presentation (PDF)
  • The department of Human Services have had a behavioural economics program running for the last three years to help reduce operating costs and deliver better services to customers. They were able to identify a large cohort who could move to online services through the use of data. This reduced costs and freed up face to face services for those who really need them.
  • They used data to increase online channel optimisation. In the same way the ATO did, they took a very scientific approach to test what interventions were most effective at increasing take up rates. The interventions which proved to be effective were: the use of social norms, SMS reminders, making online services easier for clients and using salient reminders to use certain services. For example: footsteps towards self-service terminals in Centreline shops.
  • They also employed design thinking strategies within shops and co-designed front of house services with customers. Some of the solutions introduced were: staff at front door with iPads, wireless internet for clients, apps for tablets and mobile phones.

Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer

  • With HIV it is important to get tested early in people’s infection cycle as this can improves treatment and reduces the spread of the virus. 
  • NSW Health use data to influence behaviour of service providers and create accountability and healthy competition. They use data to show health professions where good work is being undertaken. For example, one central Sydney service achieved a 42% increase in testing. By putting this kind of data out there it challenges other services to see what can actually be achieved and promotes service innovation. 
  • In Dec 2012 NSW Health’s HIV clinics were facing the issue of not having real time data available. This inhibited their ability to assess how they were performing and whether particular strategies were increasing testing uptake rates. 
  • Now NSW Health have a comprehensive quarterly monitoring report for service providers. This not only allowed services to develop more effective strategies and increase engagement from stakeholder groups such as academics and clinicians who asked for sub analysis of the data. 


Facilitated by Mr Martin Stewart-Weeks