Driven by her rural roots and a passion for international development, Crawford’s Master of Public Administration Prize winner embarks on a transformative journey to shape inclusive communities on a global scale.
Sarah Wadley had always been driven by her desire to make a difference in the world. Growing up in rural Western Australia, she developed a deep appreciation for nature and a strong sense of community. After completing her education, Sarah began her career in the Western Australian State Government, working on social policy and governance initiatives.
As her career progressed, her expertise in policy combined with the desire to be a part of positive change on a global scale led her into international development. Sarah joined the Australian Agency for International Development and later the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she could actively contribute to international initiatives.
Sarah’s concern for international development stemmed from her belief in the importance of effective public services in fostering strong and inclusive communities. As she immersed herself in her work in Australia and the surrounding regions, she realised the transformative power of well-functioning public institutions.
More than 15 years into her career, Sarah was keen to consolidate and enrich her knowledge and decided to embark on a new academic journey. She chose to study the Master of Public Administration at Crawford School of Public Policy to contest and refine what she had learned through extensive work experience. Taking advantage of her long service leave, she opted to study full-time on campus, eager to engage with fellow public servants from around the world.
While at Crawford, Sarah developed a keen interest in the underlying assumptions that shape public institutions and influence policy decisions, delving into topics such as markets, accountability, and social norms, recognising their profound impact on policymaking and service delivery. She enjoyed stimulating discussions with her experienced peers and learned from leading academics and practitioners across multiple disciplines. “One memory I will take away is a debate with classmates about what constitutes ethical behaviour for public servants. It was fascinating to explore through our personal experiences from around the world how much norms from our different cultures shape perceptions of ethics”, Sarah described.
As a result of her hard work and commitment to public service and international development, Sarah received the ANU Master of Public Administration Prize.
Approaching graduation, she reflected on the impact of her local policy experiences, recognising how they had shaped her perspective on global policy challenges. Sarah believed that understanding the deep knowledge embedded in cultures, families and communities matters not only for understanding local issues, but is also crucial for addressing global concerns. Her time at Crawford solidified her commitment to tackling shared policy challenges, such as climate change, sustainable livelihoods, and equitable and inclusive public services across the region.
Looking ahead, Sarah feels invigorated and determined in her pursuit of partnerships for positive impact. She aspires to exchange knowledge and collaborate with policymakers across the region to address pressing issues. Inclusive public services, in particular, holds a special place in her heart, and she hopes to contribute to innovative, local and sustainable solutions.
Reflecting on her time at Crawford, Sarah offers advice to prospective students: “Make the most of the chance to connect with other students – you will learn much and enjoy the study more.”
From all of us at Crawford: Congratulations, Sarah!