Sharon Bessell's picture

Sharon Bessell

Professor, Policy and Governance; Director, Children’s Policy Centre; Director, Poverty and Inequality Research 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.

Sharon is the director of the Children’s Policy Centre, and of the Poverty and Inequality Research Centre. She co-presenter of Policy Forum Pod. In 2019 she was named as one of the Australian Financial Review’s Women of Influence.

Sharon’s research interests revolve around issues of social justice and human rights, focusing on two 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. She is recognised internationally as a leader in rights-based, child-centred research methodologies, and has published widely on undertaking research with children.

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.

Sharon is currently leading research around the development of a child-centred framework for assessing multidimensional child poverty. This program of work includes an ARC Discovery project - Assessing Childhood Poverty in Indonesia - and research in Australia, currently supported by internal ANU funding through the Policy Hub.

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 received The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Award for Teaching Excellence.


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:  5 October 2023/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team