Research and Policy Advisor

  • Join one of Australia’s largest philanthropic foundation by assets – an organisation supported by former Prime Ministers & Premiers, former senior bureaucrats and business leaders. 
  • Support this ambitious foundation to maximise its impact by contributing rigourous research and anayltical expertise to the design and delivery of their programs.
  • Operate at the heart of government, policy and politics, contributing to the development of effective and trusted public institutions. 
  • Work directly with influential stakeholders and build an outstanding team in a dynamic and pioneering environment.

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 seeks to appoint an outstanding Research and Policy Advisor. This role has recently become available due to the incumbent taking the opportunity to travel and study overseas.

Initially reporting to the Co-Founder and ultimately into the Strategy Team, the primary focus of the Research and Policy Manager is to produce rigorous research and apply analytical expertise to the design and delivery of the Foundation’s programs.

The incumbent describes the job as “an incredibly fulfilling and challenging role that offers a great opportunity to contribute positively to Australian democracy. The culture of work encourages autonomy as well as collaborative and creative thinking to select, design, and implement tasks”.

Responsibilities include: 

Research & Analysis

  • Conduct rigorous research and analysis to inform and contribute to the Foundation’s strategic direction and delivery of select programs, balancing methodological rigour with pragmatism. Methods may include: policy review, rapid synthesis of research evidence, basic quantitative data analysis and data visualisation, conducting stakeholder/subject matter expert interviews.
  • Rapidly source, understand and distil information and insights.
  • Contribute input and recommendations on policy development and reform initiatives.
  • Translate complex research and analysis (including technical, economic, and strategic information) into pragmatic, clear, and concise deliverables for high-level stakeholders (e.g., CEO/Executive, leadership teams, and external stakeholders).
  • Deliver a broad range of high-quality research outputs across various programs and initiatives, producing written products (including briefings, papers, reports, submissions, presentations, and correspondence).

Team Work

  • Collaborate closely with other SMF team members to understand project/program needs and deliver on objectives according to agreed timeframes.
  • Communicate clearly with team members about project progress, including highlighting risks or roadblocks in an effort to find solutions.
  • Respond to requests for contributions on programs and initiatives in a timely way, and proactively identify other opportunities for making a positive contribution.

 Stakeholder Engagement

  • In collaboration with colleagues, consult with stakeholders and subject matter experts to establish a robust evidence base, informing SMF’s work – including liaison with think tanks, MPs, officers, and senior executives from across all levels of government in Australia and internationally.
  • Work with relevant research suppliers and contractors and ensure effective delivery of all research and activity in line with robust performance measures and continuous improvement.
  • Work collaboratively across multi-disciplinary teams involving various stakeholders and seniority levels to develop and maintain productive and professional working relationships.

About you: 

  • An excellent conceptual and analytical mind, effective problem-solver and natural collaborator.
  • A self-starter who can understand strategic objectives and roll up their sleeves to execute with sharp attention to detail.
  • Inquisitive and flexible – an adaptive learner who acts with urgency.
  • A person with high intellectual capacity to lead rigorous and efficient research and policy analysis and support the team in translating this into desired action.
  • Someone with strong personal drive and integrity – a grounded person who exhibits high professional objectivity, awareness, and maturity.
  • A strong desire to serve the public good.

Preferred qualifications and experience include: 

  • Tertiary qualifications in fields such as economics, law, social sciences, or policy.
  • 3+ years of experience assisting organisations with social or economic research, legislative and non-legislative policy development and research, ESG, strategy, or strategic communications, finding solutions and advancing complex issues with multiple stakeholders.
  • Qualitative research and analytical skills, including comfort in identifying and analysing large amounts of information to solve problems and deliver well-informed insights.
  • Quantitative data literacy desirable, with skills in interpretating quantitative data and creating simple but effective visualisations.
  • Demonstrated capacity to understand complex issues.
  • Demonstrated capacity to produce logical and concise written products by undertaking in-depth research to explore and distil complex problems with clarity and impact across various public policy areas.

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 to send through your cover letter and resume. For a confidential discussion about the role, please contact