Meet the Project Team
Leading social license expert, Dr Sara Bice, heads the project team. Sara is President-Elect for the International Association for Impact Assessment and has worked with organisations including, Oxfam Australia; Rio Tinto; the Brotherhood of St Laurence; local, state and Commonwealth governments; Transurban; AustralianSuper and the United Nations Association to advance their global sustainable development goals.
In 2016, Sara was named an inaugural Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Research Fellow, one of only four in Australia. She is Director, Research Translation and Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne. Here, she leads a range of projects on corporate social performance in impactful industries and the ‘Public Policy in the Asian Century’ project. She is an award-winning author and regular media commentator. Her latest book, Responsible Mining, is out now.
Kirsty O’Connell has successfully led communication and engagement for more than $17 billion in transformational multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects during her 20 year career. Most recently she was Head of Communications and Engagement for the Australian Government’s $10 billion Inland Rail Project where she led engagement across a 1700km project alignment working with stakeholders from the Australian Government, three states and 46 local government areas.
Kirsty is a member of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee (ISCA) and has worked closely with ISCA to develop its updated stakeholder credits. In 2016 she was the only Australian engagement practitioner invited to participate in an international forum with the world’s development banks, identifying gaps in social and environmental safeguards for international development projects.
Dr Kate Neely has contributed to several academic fields including science, science education, international development, research management and sociology. Kate is a systems thinking specialist whose current work includes discovering the drivers and barriers to effective research translation and mobilisation. Kate is also developing system dynamics based workshop methods for effective transdisciplinary collaborations around complex problems. Kate’s research into water supply in Timor Leste has led to significant improvements in the implementation and management of community based water supply.
Colette Einfeld has over ten years’ experience in research and evaluation, delivering high quality quantitative and qualitative projects. She has particular expertise in stakeholder engagement research, community perception surveys, and program evaluation and has led projects for clients in a range of industries, including energy, health, media, finance and government sectors. Of particular relevance, she has delivered a range of projects for mining, energy and utility companies, which included stakeholder research and mapping, community surveys, and measuring and tracking the social licence to operate.
Susan Wright is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne where she is conducting research into the concept of social licence to operate and the way it can provide a tool for communities to be heard when negotiating with the mining and extractives industry. A former ABC presenter, Susan has established and run a number of small businesses, gaining valuable experience in community liaison and business consultancy. She is passionate about small communities being able to cohesively voice their opinions regarding issues affecting them. Growing up in a small smelting town in the mid-north of South Australia, Susan developed an interest in the issues affecting the community and the ability for that community to voice their concerns.
Our research partners
The University of Melbourne is proud to work with leading researchers from across Australia to deliver the Next Generation Engagement project. Our university research partners include: