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Professor and Director, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Helen Sullivan is a public policy researcher, teacher, advisor, and senior university leader. Educated in the humanities and social sciences she holds degrees in Modern History and Political Science (BA Comb. Hons, University of Birmingham, UK), Women’s Studies (MA, University of York, UK), and Public Policy (PhD, University of Birmingham, UK). As Director of the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy, she heads Asia-Pacific’s leading public policy school.

Helen’s award winning scholarship explores the changing nature of state-society relationships, including: the theory and practice of governance and collaboration, new forms of democratic participation, the dynamics of local/urban governance, and the impact of reform on public policy systems. She is widely published and highly cited; the author of six books and more than 100 peer reviewed academic articles, book chapters, and policy reports. Her work is supported by grants from national research councils in the UK and Australia, as well as industry funding from a range of national, regional and international institutions (career income of @£5 million).

Helen has advised governments and governance institutions at all levels from local to global. She has consulted with organisations working in the public, private, and civil society sectors, and worked with communities and service users. She appears regularly in print, mainstream and online media commenting on contemporary public policy issues.

Helen’s career is defined by a long-term commitment to bridging the gap between research and policy. She has led and supported numerous successful innovations across the world. In 2011 she co-designed the University of Birmingham’s Policy Commission Program bringing together academics with experts from public policy, industry and civil society to develop new and implementable solutions to major policy problems. Helen also led the first Commission on Local Public Service Reform, launched at the UK Conservative Party Conference in 2010. The Commission Report, ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ led to the establishment of the University of Birmingham Public Services Academy established in 2012.

In 2013 Helen established the Melbourne School of Government – a multi-disciplinary School that broke new ground through its integration of engagement and impact with research and teaching; including establishing a research translation function (MSoGLabs), and fostering and supporting innovations as Vote Compass, Election Watch and the Trawalla Foundation funded Pathways to Politics Program for Women.

Helen’s contribution to public policy and administration is acknowledged by the academy and the world of policy and practice. Her research has won ‘Best Paper/Publication’ awards from global academic societies including the Public Management Research Association and the International Research Society for Public Management. In 2018 she was appointed to the Editorial Board of Public Administration Review (the leading journal in the field), and in 2019, she was elected to the Executive Board of the International Research Society on Public Management, and elected VP/President Elect of the Australian Political Studies Association. Helen was awarded a Fellowship of the (now) Higher Education Academy in 2002 in recognition of her teaching quality and innovation, and in 2016 she was made a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia in recognition of her significant contribution to public policy practice.


  • –present
    Professor and DIrector of the Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne


  • 2000 
    University of Birmingham, UK, PhD

Research Areas

  • Public Administration (160509)
  • Public Policy (160510)
  • Political Science (1606)


Fellowship of IPAA National and IPAA Victoria