Closing Plenary: Perspectives on Poverty and Inequality in Australia

Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Time: 2.55 pm – 4.25 pm
Location: Tyree Room (first floor)
Chair: Jacqueline Phillips, Director of Policy and Advocacy, ACOSS
Speaker(s): Professor Peter Saunders, Dr Cassandra Goldie, Owen Bennett

Eminent poverty and inequality researcher, UNSW Professor Peter Saunders, will join the CEO of ACOSS, Dr Cassandra Goldie and Owen Bennett, from the Australian Unemployed Workers Union to speak to the Australian poverty and inequality research evidence and agenda, current policy priorities and reform opportunities and the daily reality of living below the poverty line and imperative for change.

They will be joined by Anne Hampshire from The Smith Family and Dina Bowman from The Brotherhood of St Laurence to explore the tensions and opportunities these different perspectives create including:
  • the role of people directly affected by poverty in the research process: as subjects, experts, agents and/or advocates

  • navigating the tension between long-term research priorities and short-term policy priorities and political opportunities, and

  • the need to rethink traditional approaches to the dissemination of research findings to influence public policy.


Jacqueline Phillips (Chair), ACOSS
Jacqueline Phillips joined ACOSS as the Director of Policy and Advocacy in August 2013. From 2010-13, she was the National Director of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and reconciliation advocacy organisation. Jacqueline has a long history of involvement with the COSSes, having previously worked as a Policy Officer at ACOSS and the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS). She has policy expertise across a range of areas including social security, housing and homelessness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy issues, community development, human rights and justice.

Peter Saunders, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Peter Saunders was the Director of the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW from February 1987 until July 2007, and now holds a Research Chair in Social Policy. His research interests and publications cover: poverty; social exclusion and social security; economic and social inequality; household living standards and comparative social policy. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 1995 and was the first President of the Australian Social Policy Association between 2009 and 2012. He has been President of the Foundation for International Studies on Social Security since 2009.

Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS
Dr Cassandra Goldie is CEO of ACOSS and Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Law, UNSW. With public policy expertise in economic and social issues, civil society, social justice and human rights, Cassandra has represented the interests of people who are disadvantaged, and civil society generally, in major national and international processes as well as in grassroots communities. Prior to joining ACOSS, Cassandra held senior roles in both the NFP and public sectors, including with the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Darwin Community Legal Service and Legal Aid in Western Australia. She has also worked globally, including with UN Habitat and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. Cassandra serves on the Advisory Committee for the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, and the Management Committee of the International Council of Social Welfare. She is also a member of the UNSW Advisory Committees for the Faculty of Law and the UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality.

Owen Bennett, Australian Unemployed Workers Union
Owen Bennett is the president and founder of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union - Australia's only national organisation for the unemployed, by the unemployed.

Anne Hampshire, The Smith Family
Anne Hampshire is Head of Research and Advocacy at the national children’s charity, The Smith Family. She has a background in education, research, social policy, service innovation and advocacy. She has worked across the community and government sectors, including at national, state, regional and local levels. Anne has researched and written in a range of areas, in particular regarding children, young people, families and communities experiencing disadvantage. She has also contributed to the development of a range of initiatives aimed at supporting those experiencing disadvantage.

Dina Bowman, The Brotherhood of St Laurence
Dina Bowman’s research focuses on the drivers, experience and impacts of inequality and insecurity and what can be done to enable inclusive employment and economic security. As an economic sociologist she is particularly interested in qualitative and mixed methods and the challenges of applied research. Dina is an honorary principal fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. She was an elected member of the executive of the Australian Sociological Association (2013–14) and is a member of the Work + Family Policy Roundtable.