Our team of experts are committed to working collaboratively with our clients to delivering high-quality, individualised and innovative research projects.

  • Professor Roberta Ryan

    Academic Director - HRF Centre, and Professor of Local Government, College of Human and Social Futures

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    Professor Ryan specialises in working with and for local government and other spheres of government providing policy advice, social research, stakeholder and community engagement.

    Roberta is a leading public policy researcher, practitioner, and educator with over 30 years’ experience advising elected officials, senior executives and staff from all levels of government across Australia and internationally. Most recently, Roberta was Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance, Centre for Local Government, and Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government at the University of Technology Sydney. Prior to that, she was National Director and Partner of Public Policy at Urbis, Australia’s largest public policy, property economics, and urban planning consultancy practice.

    Roberta is passionate about and works at the interface of local government, the built and natural environments, service and infrastructure delivery, and community engagement. Her capacity to mediate and facilitate outcomes that deliver shared strategic objectives of government and stakeholders is widely recognised. Roberta understands the challenges and opportunities of balancing competing interests through organisational and strategic planning processes and is renowned for her ability to engage, bring together diverse views, and facilitate high performing teams in politically sensitive environments.

    Roberta has completed over 500 social research and evaluation projects, and specialises in innovative approaches to applying research and evaluation to develop practical solutions. Roberta is known for providing robust, evidence-based insights that have informed major decisions by cabinets and ministers, parliaments and regulators, independent inquiries, courts of law, state-owned corporations, state and national agencies, regional bodies, and local councils. She has an established reputation for consultative and expert facilitation of policy processes that assist governments and stakeholders arrive at strategic policy and program outcomes.

    Roberta has degrees from the University of Sydney in social science, arts and philosophy. Most recently her research is in areas of evaluating areas of policy complexity, deliberative engagement and models of regional economic development.


    • Planning Institute of Australia - Allied Professional
    • Australasian Evaluation Society - Member
    • International Association for Public Participation - Member
    • International Institute of Administrative Sciences - Member
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  • SallyAnn Hunting

    Director - Research Programs

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    SallyAnn specialises in strategy, governance, policy development and organisational change. She has extensive experience in the design and implementation of initiatives across a range of public and private sectors and her approach is underpinned by visioning, critical and systems thinking and high levels of engagement. SallyAnn uses highly participative techniques to build social capital to create sustainable, resilient organisations and communities.

    Many of her projects and social research use strong qualitative and quantitative analysis and aim to improve policy, strategy and governance outcomes across systems whilst building leadership capacity.

    Most recently, SallyAnn was a Director at the Good Governance Institute, a UK public sector consultancy and research institute which works in partnership with national government, local authorities, housing associations, the National Health Service and universities. She is co-authored Modern governance in the public sector and was investigating the most productive ways for citizens to contribute to the future of the public sector and the implications of activist, active and passive citizens in the future of governance. This research has a strong place-based focus and examined the role public participation can play in local decision making.

    Much of SallyAnn’s work in Australia was conducted at the University of Technology Institute for Public Policy and Governance and involved regional and remote strategic service delivery (in regional NSW, northern Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia) where she worked collaboratively with a range of state and local governments to improve infrastructure, disability, education and economic outcomes for communities. She also evaluated a range of public and private environmental sustainability initiatives, some of which required detailed scenario planning, alternative financial models and socio-economic analysis.

    Her most valuable contributions to place-making have been the National Disability Insurance Agency’s How local governments can increase the social and economic participation of people with disability, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Building social cohesion in our communities – An online resource for local government and the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government’s Service Delivery Review: A how to manual for local government.

    SallyAnn has a Master of Geography from the University of Oxford and a Master of Sustainable Management with Distinction from the University of Sydney. She is also a Chartered Accountant, is a member of the Finance & Governance Committee at the Australian Himalayan Foundation and is a past trustee of and Chair of the Community Consultative Committee at the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust in Sydney.

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  • Dr Anthea Bill

    Lead Economist


    Anthea is a key member of the HRF Centre's research team and has a particular interest in economic and socio-spatial analysis. She has over 15 years qualitative and quantitative research experience working in academic, commercial consultancy and government contexts and is responsible for delivering the Centre's economic indicators program in the Hunter and Upper Hunter.

    Anthea has authored and co-authored peer-reviewed research papers exploring geo-spatial disadvantage in Australian cities, labour market outcomes, housing affordability, commuting and the social impacts of unemployment. She has also authored and co-authored several research reports for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Fair Pay Commission, World Health Organisation, Centrelink, AMP, NSW Health and the ACT Chief Ministers Department.

    While working in the Queensland Department of Communities, Anthea was active in the development of the evaluation framework for the Queensland National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. She also participated as a Queensland government representative on the ABS’ National Homelessness Statistics Reference Group in 2011, looking at a revised methodology to estimate homelessness using the 2011 Census. She completed a doctoral study in Economics at the University of Newcastle in 2015, where she used spatial data analysis techniques to explore entrenched unemployment in some Australian city suburbs.

    Anthea joined the new Centre in January 2017, transitioning from the Hunter Research Foundation, where she had worked in a similar role for five years.

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  • Myles Egan

    Casual Research Assistant

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    Myles is currently enrolled in his final year of a Development Studies and Business degree at the University of Newcastle. With majors in Globalisation and Economic Development, and Politics and International Relations, coupled with an interest in research and policy development / evaluation, a work placement with the HRF Centre seemed like a natural fit. 

    Following his highly successful placement Myles was offered a position as a Research Assistant and will provide valuable analytical and research support to the senior research team.

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  • Jacob Jones

    Administrative and Project Support Officer


    Jacob is a recent Bachelor of Arts (Honours) graduate from the University of Newcastle. Majoring in History, Jacob’s thesis explored how Artificial Intelligence and Deepfake technology will impact the documentary as a vehicle for Historical representation.

    With a background in administration and customer service, Jacob joins the HRF Centre as an Administrative and Project Support Officer. Here he provides organisational support to the Centre's Academic Director and research team and regularly engages with internal and external stakeholders in order to ensure effective day-to-day operations of the Centre.

    Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours. 

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  • Lucinda Molloy

    Senior Research Analyst

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    Lucinda is a public policy researcher with a passion for using applied research and strategic thinking to solve complex policy problems.

    Lucinda completed a Bachelor of Planning at the University of New South Wales and attained First Class Honours in 2012. She has over eight years’ experience across social policy and research, strategic and social planning, local government and development assessment. Lucinda has worked in both the private and public sectors, including the City of Sydney Council and the University of Technology Sydney, Institute for Public Policy and Governance where she was in a Senior Policy and Research role, before joining the HRF Centre at the University of Newcastle.

    Throughout Lucinda’s varied career she has coordinated and contributed to a wide range of high profile social research and policy projects, including areas such as housing, health, local government, regional development, community development, stakeholder engagement and community consultation. Her work constantly requires her to liaise with stakeholders across government, non-government organisations, and community and industry groups.

    Lucinda has been involved in community development projects including building an ecologically sustainable, off grid house out of recycled materials in Tasmania, and is also a co-author of a research paper published in the Journal of Public Health, which explores engagement around housing, health and masterplanning. She has a personal and professional interest in intentional communities and alternative housing arrangements to deliver housing affordability and social sustainability.

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  • Kate Robinson

    Strategic Projects


    Stakeholder Communications and Engagement | Project Management

    Kate is a specialist in stakeholder engagement and corporate communications. Her career spans 25 years, and includes 12 years working in senior communications roles in federal government portfolios across education, health, transport and regional development. Over the past decade she has held senior roles with the University of Newcastle, including Corporate Communications Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor; and provided strategic communication and engagement services to the private sector including in manufacturing, health and finance.

    Kate’s expertise comprises communication project management, stakeholder relations, integrated communication strategy development, internal communication and staff engagement, and reputation and crisis/issues management. She has particularly strong experience working in large, complex organisations.

    Kate has worked with vice-chancellors and senior leaders in higher education; with CEOs and boards; members of parliament, senior bureaucrats and political advisors; and business and community leaders. Over her career, she has developed advanced skills in integrating project management with communications and stakeholder engagement, and an ability to bring together disparate groups and interests to achieve a common goal.

    Qualifications - Bachelor of Communication and Public Relations, University of Canberra 

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  • Olivia Wyborn

    Research Analyst


    Olivia's career spans 20 years in the finance and education sectors. She is a skilled practitioner and project manager and brings with her a wide range of skills. She provides specialised research and advisory support to the Centre's Research Director and research team and engages with internal and external stakeholders in the securing and delivery of research projects.

    Olivia's strengths are in project coordination & process improvement, executive support, and managing and enhancing client relationships. with particular expertise in community relations, communications and engagement, and events strategy and delivery.

    Passionate about delivering exceptional client service, Olivia has led project management for a range of business improvement strategies in the private sector for large corporates including MLC’s wealth management arm. With the University of Newcastle, Olivia works with the senior research team in the Faculty of Business and Law providing support as a lead project manager, and also as a research assistant.

    Olivia has strong experience in the delivery of communications that maximise both traditional and digital platforms to engage stakeholders. She is a highly regarded event manager working across the corporate, public and community sectors on small and large-scale events.

    Qualifications: Bachelor of Business and Human Resource Management, Charles Sturt University.

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