Engagement and Policy Advisor

Join Australia’s one of Australia’s largest philanthropic foundation by assets – an organisation supported by former Prime Ministers & Premiers, former senior bureaucrats, and business leaders.

The position involves developing and managing, in conjunction with SMF colleagues, an effective engagement and communications plan. Importantly, driving and achieving the deliverables of that plan in a proactive, agile, and action-based way that complements and supports SMF’s objectives is central to the role.

The role would most likely be located in either New South Wales or the Australian Capital Territory and require occasional travel as necessary. An attractive remuneration package will be negotiated with the successful candidate. Remuneration will be subject to periodic review in line with SMF’s organisational policy.


About the Susan McKinnon Foundation:

The Susan McKinnon Foundation (SMF) is a Melbourne-based foundation dedicated to strengthening Australia’s democracy and enhancing public administration. Our goal is for Australian governments to be more effective, transparent and accountable. We support practical programs that deliver tangible progress, and our work is motivated solely by the long-term public good. Our approach is non-partisan and undertaken in cooperation with all sides of politics.

About the opportunity:

SMF is seeking to appoint an outstanding and dynamic leader to represent the Foundation as an Engagement and Policy Advisor. This role has recently become available due to the previous incumbent achieving a senior position within the new NSW Government.

Initially reporting to the Co-Founder and ultimately to the Head of Engagement, the primary role of the Engagement and Policy Advisor is to further build and strengthen the Foundation’s reputation as a highly effective, trusted and non-partisan organisation and to achieve this by establishing, fostering, and growing the Foundation’s evolving network of key stakeholders in both NSW and in Canberra (the Federal arena).

The previous incumbent describes the job as “a unique and stimulating role that is central to facilitating important discussions between key political and civil society leaders about improving democracy for the benefit of all Australians”.


Responsibilities include:

  • With the key focus on parliamentary and government MPs, advisors and party leadership successfully:
    • build awareness and a positive perception of SMF, and
    • assist SMF Program Managers in driving endorsement of and gaining support for the objectives of their programs and initiatives.
  • Working with the SMF programs team to develop and execute advocacy strategies and campaigns for SMF programs.
  • Leveraging a strong network of political and government stakeholders and advocating for SMF programs to State and Federal MPs.
  • Driving, coordinating and optimising government engagement with the Foundation across multiple programs and initiatives, including briefings and special events.
  • Building the Foundation’s network and reputation as a trusted, non-partisan and effective organisation with stakeholders.
  • Gathering feedback from key stakeholders and utilising this in contributing to the design of new and ongoing SMF programs.
  • Providing political and public policy insight for the organisation to improve the development and delivery of its programs.
  • Coordinating events and preparing briefings/communication with Ministers, MPs and other key stakeholders.


About you:

  • You have a clear and robust sense of personal drive, energy, enthusiasm and, most of all, genuine integrity.
  • You are a grounded and exhibit a high degree of emotional intelligence, professional objectivity,
  • awareness and maturity.
  • You feel comfortable walking among people of all levels of experience and seniority.
  • You have an open mind, a hands-on ‘can do’ attitude, and an organisational style who is not afraid to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and get the job done.
  • You have excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • You are an innovative and strategic thinker who provides practical advice and demonstrates, through action, a shared purpose and vision.
  • You are confident and professionally assertive and empathises effectively with others and their competing priorities and demands.
  • You have an ability to foster collaboration between diverse internal and external stakeholders that generate innovative new ideas and initiatives.
  • You are a genuine believer in taking a consultative approach with the ability to lead decisively when necessary.


Essential Experience

  • Tangible professional experience working in a parliamentary, government or political setting – either a parliamentary role, government agency, ministerial or MP office or advocacy/policy in a relevant industry organisation.
  • Strong existing networks with MPs, political advisors, senior public servants and relevant stakeholders at an NSW state and Federal level.
  • Demonstrated track record in establishing and building enduring and positive stakeholder relationships.
  • Proven influencing skills and program/initiative execution competencies.
  • Experience in developing and managing engagement, communication and advocacy strategies and initiatives.
  • Demonstrated skills in project management and program implementation and delivery.
  • Capability to professionally represent the Foundation to key stakeholders.


Essential Knowledge

  • An understanding, alignment, profound respect, and appreciation for SMF’s mission, values, and focus areas.
  • A detailed understanding of the structure and processes of the NSW and Australian Parliaments, governments, public service, and political parties.
  • A thorough understanding of current trends and priorities in public policy thinking.
  • An in-depth understanding and familiarity with the public policy development process, including agenda setting, policy option formulations, implementation, delivery, and evaluation.
  • The knowledge and ‘know-how’ to navigate political dynamics and build relationships with key decision-makers.
  • Knowledge of stakeholder mapping and analysis techniques, including identifying and prioritising key stakeholders, understanding their interests, and developing strategies to engage and communicate with them effectively.
  • Knowledge of community engagement principles and practices.
  • An understanding of the media sector and knowledge of effective communication strategies, messaging, and media platforms. Familiarity with social media management and monitoring tools, particularly concerning the political ecosystem.


Preferred qualifications and experience include:

  • University degree or equivalent tertiary qualifications.
  • Appropriate organisational/management/leadership experience with relevant qualifications an advantage.


How to apply:

The Susan McKinnon Foundation is supportive of diversity in all its forms and strives to maintain an inclusive team environment. Please notify us if you require any adjustments to the recruitment process – we’ll do our best to find a solution.

To submit your application, please click the ‘Apply’ button and upload your cover letter and resume. For a confidential discussion about the role, please contact