Dr Katie Attwell

Started at UWA: 2017

Addressing the pointy end of mandatory vaccination policy 

I love the content area that I research and teach, and I love sharing it with students. If I’m excited, then hopefully they are too.Dr Katie Attwell 

Dr Katie Attwell is an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow, senior lecturer and academic researcher at the UWA School of Social Sciences. She specialises in mandatory vaccination policy across Australia, Europe and The United States of America, researching the tactics their governments use to motivate people to vaccinate, how policies make it to the agenda, how they are designed, how they differ, and how they work. 

Katie grew up in the City of Rockingham, Western Australia, as the child of two teachers. Growing up, Katie felt a strong desire to be a professional musician. During her undergraduate degree, she decided that a career as a lecturer of political science would be a good ‘Plan B’. Katie juggled her passion for music with travel and raising a family, while completing her higher degree studies. Some of her major achievements include her recent DECRA Award; conceptualising, researching, designing, delivering and evaluating the I Immunise public health campaign; and her partnership with WA Health and national/international collaborators to research and develop strategies to engage midwives as vaccine promoters.


In 2018, Katie received funding to research mandatory vaccination full-time for three years. Katie believes under-vaccination is a large threat to public health and mandates can be a useful solution for people who choose not to be vaccinated, but they are also potentially problematic. Katie seeks to understand the circumstances by which mandates can be justified and where they cannot. Her work allows her to travel to amazing places and develop her expertise through interviewing those who are central to introducing and implementing vaccination policies. 


  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Murdoch University, 2013
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) (Hons), Murdoch University, 2005
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), Murdoch University, 2001

External positions

  • Honorary Fellow of the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, Telethon Kids Institute 

2018 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) to research mandatory vaccination internationally

2016 Teaching excellence award for high student satisfaction results – Murdoch University

2014 Vice Chancellor’s Citation for Enhancing Student Learning – Murdoch University

2013 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence – Murdoch University


Dr Katie Attwell is currently researching mandatory vaccination policies in Italy, France and The United States of America. She collaborates with in-country teams who research specific local questions as well as feed into her broader project. She is also an associate investigator on the National Health and Medical Research Council project: developing evidence-based strategies for addressing childhood vaccination rejection. Katie and her team are addressing the issue of non-vaccination in Australia and considering suitable strategies to address it. She is also an investigator in the MumBubVax project, engaging midwives as vaccine promoters for pregnant women. 

Teaching and PhD opportunities

Katie teaches in the disciplines of political science, public policy and studies in human society and has previously taught the UWA undergraduate Political Science and International Relations unit, POLS2204 The Politics of Gender. She currently teaches one postgraduate unit, POLS5505 Regulation and Governance. Katie feels inspired when she witnesses her students critically analysing a concept or issue and forming connections with interconnected research parts. 

Dr Katie Attwell has been supervising UWA Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students since 2017 on topics such as vaccination policy and post-abortion experiences. Katie will be seeking project applications directly or closely related to vaccination, vaccine hesitancy or vaccine mandates until 2022.


Dr Katie Attwell has received financial support from: 

  • 2019-2022 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award - $405,751
  • 2019-2022 The University of Western Australia, Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education - $70,000
  • 2018 Department of Health - $31,686.36

Contact Dr Katie Attwell

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Research repository

Read more about Dr Attwell

Research repository