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A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


The Doherty Institute was commissioned by the Commonwealth Government to advise on the National Plan to transition Australia's National COVID Response.

Modelling for public health is an iterative process that provides measured advice to policy makers.

The Doherty Institute provides the evidence in an unbiased way – we do not make the policy decisions. It is the role of the Commonwealth Government to interpret the evidence.

We have put together this information hub to provide more insight into what modelling is, introduce our team of modellers and provide explanations around the reports we have produced for National Cabinet.

Here you will be able to find everything from the reports we have prepared for National Cabinet, to explainer videos, podcasts and articles.

What is modelling?

Modelling is a process in which real-life or hypothetical situations or scenarios are translated into mathematical language.  This is done by first identifying a problem (for example, a disease outbreak) and asking a question (for example, how might certain restrictions change how the disease spreads?). The team then collects different types of data from different sources to inform their model, including statistical data, mobility data and demographic data. The modellers consult experts to gather more nuanced information about the problem. Modellers then identify the best type of model to use that will help them answer the questions they have asked. The modellers look at different scenarios based on the data they have collected, and the advice they have received on the problem.

These situations are analysed using well-defined rules and are guided by particular objectives. The model will produce outputs, which can then be analysed, adjusted and interpreted. Ultimately, models construct a theoretical representation of real-world situations. 

There are different types of models which range in complexity. The type of model used will vary depending on the objectives and purpose of the study, the amount and quality of data available, and what is understood about the epidemiology of the disease.

Although the Doherty-led consortium focuses on epidemiological modelling and modelling of infectious diseases, modelling in general has a wide variety of applications across many different sectors, including finance, policy making, engineering, economics and technology.  

Doherty Institute Modelling Reports

Lay statements

Modelling definitions and FAQs

Read this document for an explainer on commonly used modelling definitions and frequently asked questions. 



Press conferences

  • Monday, 8 November - Final Report to National Cabinet 

  • Monday, 20 September 2021

  • Tuesday, 3 August 2021 - Doherty Institute Modelling Report for National Cabinet


The team

Our process, led by the Doherty Institute’s Director of Epidemiology, University of Melbourne Professor Jodie McVernon, and University of Melbourne Professor James McCaw, involves collaborative work conducted by multiple teams with specific expertise in infectious diseases modelling across 12 institutes and universities from around Australia.

This nationally distributed team has been actively engaged in supporting decision making at Commonwealth level through Australia’s COVID-19 response including ongoing assessment of the nature of our local epidemic.

Project Directors


Burnet Institute

Doherty Institute

LaTrobe University

Monash University

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Telethon Kids Institute

The University of Melbourne

University of Adelaide

University of New South Wales

University of Sydney

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research

Project Implementation Team