Sharon Bessell

Dr Sharon Bessell is the Director of the Children’s Policy Centre in Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.

Her research focuses on social policy for children and she currently teaches Global Social Policy (POGO8044) and Development Theories and Themes (POGO8072) at Crawford School.

Current projects


Assessing development: designing better indices of poverty and gender equity Contributing to development worldwide, this research raises Australia’s global standing and helps fulfil the values and responsibilities of the Australian people. It strengthens the basis for gender‑related and poverty‑related policy development and service delivery within Australia and helps correct the current over‑emphasis, in measuring domestic gender inequity, on the more privileged women. Because severe poverty and radically unequal gender relations burden many of our South East Asian and Pacific neighbours, development aid remains an important plank of our foreign policy. By providing better tools for measuring poverty and gender inequity, this project can improve our understanding of our region and augment the impact of our aid.

Funded by an ARC Linkage Grant of $1,098,000 over three years, commencing in late 2009. Collaborating researchers: Professor TW Pogge; Dr S Bessell; Ms JE Hunt; Dr CH Barry; Dr Y Liu; Professor AM Jagger; Ms J Sloane; Ms A Banze; Professor FA Castillo Collaborating/Partner Organisations: International Women’s Development Agency, Oxfam Southern Africa Regional Office, Philippines Health Social Science Association, University of Colorado at Boulder Administering Institution: The Australian National University

Children, Community and Social Capital in Australia This research will explore children’s views and experiences of community and will increase understanding of community and community strengthening initiatives from a child-centred perspective. It will contribute to policies and programs being responsive and child-inclusive. Based on children’s lived experiences and perspectives, we will develop a framework that will be used to analyse community strengthening and social inclusion policies from a child-centred perspective. Our methodology is based on collaboration with communities and values children’s knowledge and contribution.

Funded by an ARC Linkage Grant of $91,722 over three years, commencing in Feburuary 2010. Collaborating researchers: Dr S Bessell, Professor J Mason, Ms A Michaux, Dr A Nevile Partner Organisations: The Benevolent Society, NAPCAN Administering Institution: The Australian National University

Developing Child-Inclusive Policy in Fiji This research explore the views and priorities of children and young people in Fiji on policy issues that are relevant to them. The first phase of this research focuses on children and young people’s views on education. As part of this research the Children and Young People’s Forum on Education in Fiji was held in June 2009, in collaboration with Save the Children Fiji.

Read the report from the Children and Young People’s Forum [PDF, 2346KB] on Education in Fiji.

What does children’s and youth participation mean for children and adults?

Focusing on the Australian context, which particular emphasis on children and young people who have experienced the care and protection system, this project explores the attitudes and experiences of both adults and children in relation to children’s and youth participation in decision-making processes.

What is valued about childcare A detailed study of one childcare centre, this research explores what children (aged four and five years), parents and staff consider to be good quality child care.