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Professor and Director, Centre for Research in Educational and Social Inclusion, University of South Australia

Professor Anna Sullivan is Director of the Centre for Research in Educational and Social Inclusion (CRESI) at the University of South Australia. CRESI undertakes research that contributes to creating a society that fosters educational and social inclusion.

Professor Sullivan’s research contributes to a greater understanding of educational issues related to exclusion and inclusion. Her current program of research draws largely on critical policy studies to examine ways in which policies are developed and enacted at various levels of education. The ‘critical’ in these studies enables her to examine the ways in which this broad policy work includes and/or excludes people, particularly those whom are most vulnerable. Prof Sullivan’s interests centre on four major interrelated areas of investigation:

Early career teachers’ work. She has had two significant ARC Linkages to investigate issues related to early career teachers. In particular, her work has sought to understand the ways in which teachers’ work can be restructured to enable their success and how school leaders can support early career teachers to stay in the profession.

School leadership and education policy. Much of Prof Sullivan’s research examines ways in which school leaders develop and enact policies in ways that make schools better places for teachers and students. She has had four ARC Linkage grants that investigated this issue of how school leaders develop and enact policies in schools.

School discipline and student behaviour. Prof Sullivan is interested in ways in which policies and practices can support students and teachers to prevent behaviour issues emerging and then to intervene in ways that support re-engagement. She has had three projects investigating these issues and is currently leading an ARC Discovery project that you s examining school exclusions.

Research translation and knowledge mobilisation. Prof Sullivan is recognised as an Australian leader in educational research communication and she is committed to building the capacity of Australian educational researchers to undertake knowledge mobilisation, particularly via the media. She recently began investigating what research dissemination strategies have the most impact on teachers, school leaders, policy makers and researchers, to generate empirical knowledge to inform research practice.

Prof Sullivan continually attracts research funding, totalling a significant $1.9 million. She has been a Chief Investigator on many research projects (including 4 ARC Linkages and 1 ARC Discovery), most involving collaborations with partner organisations. Her research has informed education policy and practice internationally.

Prof Sullivan is recognised as a leading Australian who is influencing the way in which education research is being reported in the media. Her belief in the importance of making education research accessible has led her to appear in numerous print, radio and television media on issues related to student behaviour, school discipline and early career teachers.

Prof Sullivan brings over 10 years school teaching experience to her research and lecturing having taught in the Primary, Middle and Secondary years of schooling across South Australia, New South Wales and England.


  • 2017–present
    Associate Professor of Education, University of South Australia
  • 2010–2016
    Senior Lecturer: Managing Learning Environments/Middle Schooling, University of South Australia