Paul Ramsay Foundation Supports ANU to End Disadvantage

12 April 2022

Three ground-breaking ANU initiatives - including cybernetics, assessment of social systems, and transformative place-based programs - have each been awarded a Paul Ramsay Foundation grant to help end disadvantage in Australia and achieve lasting change.

Continuing the late Paul Ramsay's philanthropic legacy through a shared commitment to break cycles of disadvantage, the grants will enable ANU researchers to use their diverse perspective, expertise and experience to improve social mobility in Australia.

Barry Sandison, who received a Paul Ramsay Foundation Fellowship, will examine how and why Australia's social systems fail to adequately support individuals, families and communities in need. This research will allow Sandison to build much needed data sets that can improve people's experiences of these systems.

"The support provided through the Paul Ramsay Foundation Fellowship allows me to explore opportunities to enhance the not-for-profit sector's use of data. This will primarily focus on how to build a community of practice around how those organisations and the sector as a whole create knowledge using data, evidence and lived experience," says Sandison.

"The flexibility provided in the grant maximises my ability to engage with numerous stakeholders and explore multiple paths toward achieving increased data capability in the sector."

Also exploring a data-led approach is Ellen Broad, Associate Professor at the ANU School of Cybernetics. Broad says the Paul Ramsay Foundation grant will fund an entirely new body of work that uses Cybernetics to take a holistic view of the role of data in disrupting disadvantage.

"This grant enables us to hire a dedicated researcher for this important body of work. At the end of 12 months, we will have a bespoke, research-led toolkit that community and government organisations can use to evaluate the role of data in social impact programs.

"Without the Paul Ramsay Foundation grant, this research wouldn't be possible. It is a synergistic meeting of values and goals - to bring new thinking to disadvantage, to maximise the benefit of data solutions, while minimising the risk," says Broad.

Tackling disadvantage from a very different angle, researchers on the More for Children project will use their grant to advance the national debate around more effective strategies to reduce child poverty and create social mobility.

Professor Sharon Bessell, Director of the Children's Policy Centre at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, will lead the More for Children research project. She says that, unless policy makers listen to children and take their views and experiences seriously, Australia cannot properly address child poverty or create a just society.

"There were an estimated one in six Australian children living in poverty before the pandemic. This number is set to rise in post-pandemic measures unless transformative changes are made to the way we assess and respond to child poverty in this country," says Professor Bessell.

"At the Children's Policy Centre we have undertaken research over many years into the complex nature of poverty and, in particular, the ways in which it is experienced by children. With funding from the Paul Ramsay Foundation, and in partnership with BurnieWorks in Tasmania and FamilyCare in Victoria, we aim to develop a community-led, child-centred framework for assessing, measuring, and responding to child poverty.

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation to disrupt disadvantage, address underlying causes of poverty, and shift stigmatising narratives."

Professor Glyn Davis, AC, CEO of the Paul Ramsay Foundation said that supporting ANU in these particular projects was exciting as they were each uniquely aligned to the Foundation's strategy to break cycles of disadvantage in Australia.

"The way disadvantage effects people's lives is complex and has many, many dimensions. Each of these grants with ANU speak to a different aspect of the drivers of disadvantage. The Paul Ramsay Foundation is excited to partner with ANU to uncover important research to help us better understand what we can do to address these issues, and work together to achieve lasting change."

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