Our people



Associate Professor Chris Roche

Chris is Associate Professor and the Director of the Institute for Human Security and Social Change as well as the Chair in International Development & Senior Research Partner with the Developmental Leadership Program. He joined La Trobe University in 2012. Chris has over 25 years' experience working for International NGOs as a project manager, evaluator, policy researcher and director. He is particularly interested in understanding how social change happens, who is involved, and how the effectiveness of attempts to promote change is assessed. Chris is keen to develop new linkages between academia and development agencies and is keen to hear ideas and proposals about how best to make this happen.

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Dr Linda Kelly

Linda's role at the Institute focuses on the 'practice' of thinking and working politically. As part of this, she contributes to the field methods course in the Master of International Development, works with others at La Trobe to take up opportunities for practice that reflect our approach and fields of interest and supports research and identification of effective development practice. Linda also shares responsibility with Chris Roche to support the development and direction of the Institute.

Linda has worked widely in the international development sector. She has held senior management positions at World Vision and Oxfam Australia and is an established trainer and facilitator. Her specialisations include community development and capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, gender, disability, and international NGO development.

Since 2001 she has been Director of Praxis Consultants, a privately owned company specialising in strategic management, program design, and research and evaluation for international and domestic organisations. More recently she has begun working on monitoring and evaluation with Indigenous organisations.

Programs and Partnerships Manager

Yeshe Smith

Yeshe's primary focus is to broker relationships between academics interested in working through the Institute's frameworks, and practitioners who are actively working on social change projects.

Yeshe comes to us after eleven years at AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). She has worked across governance and social change programs during her time at DFAT, including three years establishing the Pacific Leadership Program across the Pacific. Yeshe is accredited as a partnership broker with the Partnership Brokers Association, and has developed, managed and reviewed partnerships for AusAID and DFAT in many countries across the Pacific and South Asia. Yeshe is also accredited as a partnering skills trainer, and has delivered training to DFAT staff and to civil society organisations in Australia.

Prior to joining DFAT, Yeshe was based in Papua New Guinea and Ghana, working for Australian and Canadian non-government organisations.

Institute Business Manager

Carelene Moloney

Caralene is experienced in the public, private and international development sectors.  She is practiced in state government, having worked in senior roles in the Department of Justice, Department of Premier and Cabinet, and Office of the Auditor-General.  Caralene applied her knowledge of the justice sector and legislative process to establish Cambodia’s national Arbitration Council secretariat, and to undertake Corrections reform in the Solomon Islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Law and Justice project.  Caralene is skilled at developing collaborative research partnerships and grant applications and tender responses, having secured AusAID, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Australian Research Council project and research funding.  She has post-graduate and undergraduate qualifications in criminology.

Project Coordinator, Contracts and Administration

Luke Hambly

Luke contributes to the contract management of the Institute’s projects and provides research assistance to the Papua New Guinea-Australia partnership. Luke worked at the Australian National University (ANU) from 2001 and 2017 in a number of positions, including most recently on the ARC-funded research project Serving our Country: a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia. At the Centre for Democratic Institutions at ANU, Luke worked for over 8 years as a programme manager, and prior to that was the research assistant to the Anthropology Department in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. Luke also worked at AusAID in a variety of areas including the PNG branch, where in 2000 he worked with the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group as a civilian peace monitor on the island of Buka. Luke has a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development and co‐edited Political Parties in the Pacific Islands (ANU Press, 2006).

Senior Administration Coordinator

Eileen Christou

Eileen provides high-level administrative support to the Institute. She comes to us after twelve years at Department of Home Affairs. With a strong background in financial administration and stakeholder management, combined with a Bachelor of Commerce (Human Resource Management and Marketing) qualification, she has worked across various Federal Government Program’s including the Diversity and Social Cohesion, Settlement Grants and Humanitarian Settlement Services' Programs.

International Development Storyteller

Susanne Newton

Susanne is a Councillor at the City of Darebin representing the Bundoora and Reservoir area. Her passions are gender equality, politics and development. She is co-founder and co-convener of Women’s Melbourne Network and has worked for UN Women in Kenya and Uganda. She has also lived and worked in Samoa, Japan and the UK.

PNG Project Coordinator

Barbara Thomas

Barbara is working on our Papua New Guinea – Australia Partnership under the leadership of Senior Research Fellow Dr Andrea Babon. She joins us from The Voice Inc., a local Papua New Guinean youth NGO where she has been involved for the past nine years, serving in various capacities which began initially as a part time student volunteer and up until recently it’s Executive Director. She has a background in environmental science and is passionate about sustainable development, social justice and equality.


Senior Research Fellow

Dr Andrea Babon

Andrea is be working on our Papua New Guinea – Australia partnership with Research Fellows Stephanie Lusby and Paul Kelly.

Dr Babon is an environmental policy and governance specialist with an interest in the equity implications of markets for environmental services. She has over 15 years’ experience working in research, policy analysis and advocacy for sustainable natural resource management in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region including Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Lisa Denney

Lisa Denney is a Senior Research Fellow supporting the Institute to embed learning and thinking and working politically approaches in their work. She is particularly interested in understanding local practices of governance and justice and in the political economy of the aid industry. Lisa has experience undertaking research, training, advisory support and monitoring and evaluation in international development. For the past three years, she has been an independent consultant working for a range of donors and non-government organisations on governance, conflict, security, justice and gender issues. Prior to this, Lisa was a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London. She has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Lisa has a PhD in International Politics from Aberystwyth University and is the author of Justice and Security Reform: Development agencies and informal institutions in Sierra Leone. She is also a co-convenor of the Law and Justice Development Community of Practice.

Research Fellow (Research, Planning & Management)

Dr John Cox

John comes to us from the Australian National University and is an anthropologist who studies the middle class of Papua New Guinea. He has worked across the Pacific in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Fiji, with twenty years experience as an NGO program manager, consultant, academic, and volunteer.

John completed his PhD in anthropology at the University of Melbourne in 2012 and was awarded the Australian Anthropological Society's 2012 Prize for Best PhD Thesis. John's thesis was an anthropological study of Papua New Guinea's biggest and longest-lived Ponzi scheme.

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Research Fellow (Analysis and Communications)

Paul Kelly

Paul is working on our Papua New Guinea – Australia partnership alongside Senior Research Fellow Dr Andrea Babon and Research Fellow Stephanie Lusby.

Paul is from Lancaster University in the UK, where he has been researching impact evaluation and data/knowledge management in the development sector since 2013, as part of a PhD program.

Paul holds a bachelor degree in Philosophy and two master degrees, one in Digital Innovation and the other in ICTs for Education. Over the last 20 years, his career has seen him work with universities, the British Council, the UNDP, numerous NGOs and private sector organisations on projects related to international development, education and socio-digital change in organisations.

His recent research looks at how different people view the use of data and knowledge in their work.

Research Fellow (Field-based Inquiry)

Stephanie Lusby

Stephanie is working on our Papua New Guinea – Australia partnership alongside Senior Research Fellow Dr Andrea Babon and Research Fellow Paul Kelly. The partnership focusses on knowledge, analytics and learning processes which support evidence informed programming. A PhD candidate with the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU, Stephanie brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to the Institute team including 12 years working on research and campaign projects related to development in the Asia Pacific. Most recently, Stephanie was based at IWDA as the Program Manager – Pacific. She has extensive experience working in Papua New Guinea at the East New Britain Sexual Health Improvement Project (ENB SHIP) in Kokopo, in Madang at the Burnet Institute Centre for International Health, and conducted electoral monitoring research in Kokopo District during the 2012 national elections.

Honorary Research Associates

The Institute is proud to work with our honorary research associates from the University of the South Pacific (USP).

Glen Finau

Glen is an Assistant Lecturer in Accounting at the University of the South Pacific (USP). He previously worked as an auditor with Ernst & Young (Fiji) Ltd before joining USP and is a member of CPA Australia and the Fiji Institute of Accountants. He completed his Masters of Commerce at USP, with his thesis examining the factors that lead to successful ICT implementation in the public sector in Pacific Island Countries. His research focuses on a range of areas from Accounting, Information Systems, Mobile Money and Social Media. His work has been published in Pacific Asia Journal of the Association of Information Systems, Accounting History and Journal of Pacific Studies. His current research work explores the use and potential of social media in collective activism and political participation in the South Pacific.

Jope Tarai

Jope is a Teaching Assistant in Ethics and Governance, and a Masters student of Politics, Diplomacy and International Affairs, at the University of the South Pacific (USP). His Masters research focusses on collective diplomacy in the context of The South Pacific Tuna Treaty. In addition, his research interests are: Pacific regionalism, tuna politics, social media and politics in Fiji. His work has been published in Pacific Studies and the Journal of Pacific Studies. More recently his research has focused on the use of social media and digital technologies for activism and collective action.

Romitesh Kant

Romitesh is a teaching assistant and a research Masters student with the School of Government, Development and International Affairs at the University of the South Pacific (USP). His Masters research focusses on democracy and constitutional processes in Fiji. His current research interests are politics of ethnicity and constitutional developments in Fiji, human rights, and digital media and politics in the Pacific. His work has been published in Pacific Studies and the Journal of Pacific Studies. More recently his research has focused on online activism and digital feminism.

Jason Titifanue

Jason is a Teaching Assistant at the University of the South Pacific (USP). He is currently a Masters candidate at USP undertaking research into how migration and remittances affect family livelihoods in small island communities. He is a member of a research team that examines the role that Information and Communications technologies (ICTs) play in contemporary Pacific politics and advocacy. He has co-authored papers examining the role that ICTs have played in activism, political campaigning and as a tool for empowerment. Two of these papers have been accepted for publication in Pacific Studies and the Journal of Pacific Studies. His current research interests focus on contemporary politics and how ICTs can be leveraged as tools for citizen empowerment, activism, and political engagement in the South Pacific.