Meet the team – Ben Rogers

August 11, 2022

Senior Policy Officer, Ben Rogers, honed his policy and advocacy craft working for a pharmaceutical company in the UK during a period of great legislative upheaval. Ben joined the VHA soon after following his partner to Australia, and gets great satisfaction from supporting members and constantly striving for improvements to Victoria’s healthcare system.

 

Tell members a bit about your background – where have your career taken you and what brought you to the VHA?

I fell into health policy through a mixture of lucky accident and desperate need for employment. After getting my BA and MA in International Relations at Lancaster University back in the homeland, I had the humbling experience of realising my degrees were undermined by a lack of fluency in any language aside from English – and that people did not want to employ me. While briefly working as a ‘packer’ at an Amazon warehouse to earn money, I was able to get some work experience through unpaid day-a-week internships at an aged care charity and a blood cancer charity. And health policy came into my life; I realised I liked it, it interested me, and everything I learnt at university wasn’t entirely useless.

I was fortunately able to parlay the experience at the charities into a job at MSD UK, a pharmaceutical company, as a policy analyst. And I loved it. Supporting such an important business during a period of instability, with Brexit changing everything, was an eye-opening experience. It was the best first job I could have asked for, and I can only speak so highly of the organisation. I was able to begin to hone my policy and advocacy craft and start to try to understand the behemoth that is the NHS.

But my partner wanted to come home. And I wasn’t going to turn down a chance to move to the other side of the world with the woman I loved. I was worried that I may struggle for employment – but a wonderful opportunity to look at a health system from the perspective of the providers popped up almost immediately. After arriving in Victoria in May 2018, I have been employed at the VHA since July 2018 – so my time at the VHA has been pretty much synonymous with my Australian life. And it has been great.

 

What are some things you’re working on at the moment and what most excites you about these projects?

There is a lot happening – especially with one eye on the upcoming state election in November. At the moment my work is predominantly focusing on mental health reform, health funding, and health service performance, with a particular focus on ambulance offload delays – with, hopefully, something about to be released on the latter. I think what is most exciting about all these different strands of work is just how important they are – these have major implications for members now and into the future. As a policy wonk, I am also partial to the process of digging for more information, so these issues definitely scratch that itch.

 

What do you enjoy about working in the public health space?

The best part about working in the public health sphere is the potential to support our members to be part of a better health system – Victoria has amazing public healthcare, but it is great to see, and be part of, the constant search for improvements. And there is always something happening – the variety never ceases to amaze me, and I enjoy the process of learning more. Its also very interesting that a lot of the work is not often new, as health policy has a funny way of repeating some of its greatest hits and issues.