Profile of a public health policy analyst: Kierata Stuart
Keriata Stuart (Te Ati Awa , Taranaki) is the senior policy analyst at the New Zealand Drug Foundation – a non-government organisation (NGO) based in Wellington.
Keriata says her role is difficult to pigeon-hole. It includes researching, monitoring issues, networking and information analysis to provide evidence-based policy advice about matters relating to alcohol and drugs, including tobacco.
This work often forms the basis of submissions for shaping government policy and legislation. Keriata says one of the benefits of policy work is that the skills are easily transferable to different organisations.
She says that until relatively recently, many people, including her, were “accidental” policy analysts promoted into the newly established roles because of their research, analysis and writing skills. Today, however, it is possible to complete study in public policy and many people choose policy analyst is as their career path.
Keriata is currently studying towards her Masters in Public Health. Her work has
provided inspiration for her Master’s thesis which has a focus on Maori women, alcohol and pregnancy.
Keriata suggests that, while obtaining a relevant degree is the starting point for anyone wanting to pursue a career in policy analysis, it is really important to back that up with practical work experience. For Keriata, patience is a key personal attribute for policy analysts because it’s difficult to measure short term results.
She says you need to take a long term view of your work and trust that you are
positively influencing policy makers.
“More and more people doing post graduate studies are
pursuing careers in policy anslysis because it is so interesting
and varied. For me doing policy work in an NGO is a really good
option because my skills contribute to achieving important
public health outcomes”.