Sharon Bessell's picture

Sharon Bessell

Professor, Policy and Governance; Director, Children’s Policy Centre


BA (Hons 1st class, Tasmania), PhD (Monash) Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy

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Sharon Bessell is a Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. She is the director of the Children’s Policy Centre and co-host of Policy Forum Pod.
Sharon is the director of the Children’s Policy Centre. Sharon’s research interests revolve around issues of social justice and human rights, focusing on three broad areas. The first is social policy, social justice and the human rights of children. The second is the gendered and generational dimensions of poverty, with a focus on qualitative and innovative data to disrupt disadvantage, reveal structural barriers, and respond to and value local contexts. The third is childhoods over time and intergenerational relations. She is recognised internationally as a leader in rights-based, child-centered research methodologies, and has published widely on undertaking research with children.

Sharon is currently leading research around the development of a child-centered framework for assessing multidimensional child poverty: More for Children. The current phase of this research in Australia is funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, and involves rights-based research with children, their families and communities and analysis of current policies and services. Sharon has led similar research in Indonesia, with the aim of developing both locally relevant and global child-centred approaches to conceptualising, defining and responding to child poverty. The research in Indonesia (Suara Anak - Children’s Voices) is funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant.

Over the past 15 years, Sharon has led the development of an innovative, gender-sensitive approach to assessing multidimensional poverty, which has resulted in the Individual Measure of Multidimensional Poverty (IMMP). The IMMP (named the Individual Deprivation Measure, IDM, during its development phase) provides policy-relevant information on the gendered nature of poverty, and is unique in assessing multidimensional poverty at the individual level. Sharon designed the research methodology that led to the IMMP (through an Australian Research Council Linkage project, which included collaboration with both civil society and research institutions from around the world). From 2016-2020, she co-led the ANU IDM program (with Associate professor Janet Hunt), which was funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and involved an incredibly talented team of interdisciplinary researchers with a mix of country, subject and technical expertise.

Sharon has undertaken research across a number of geographic regions, including Australia, Southeast Asia (particularly Indonesia and the Philippines), the Pacific (particularly Fiji) and Southern Africa. She has worked with government, non-government and international agencies in Australia, Asia and the Pacific.

Sharon is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and in 2016 and 2023 received The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Award for Teaching Excellence. She was named by the Australian Financial Review as one of Australia’s 100 women of influence in 2019.


Sharon teaches courses on social policy, poverty reduction, globalisation, global development, children’s human rights, and gender.

Current courses: - Poverty Reduction POGO8004 - offered in 2022 as a summer intensive - Development Theories and Themes POGO8072 - offered in semester 1, 2022 - Global Social Policy POGO8044 - not offered in 2022

Updated:  18 June 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team