Whitlam Institute appoints new Director

Leanne Smith 

The Whitlam Institute (opens in a new window) has announced the appointment of a new Director, international human rights lawyer, former Australian diplomat and senior United Nations official Leanne Smith.

A graduate of the Australian National University, Leanne brings 20 years of experience in policy development, political analysis, international peace and security, human rights fieldwork and international law. Working with the Australian Government, the UN, and various NGOs and human rights organisations, her work has taken her to Afghanistan, the Balkans, South Sudan, East Timor and across Australia.

Ms Smith said 'Throughout my career I have been dedicated to promoting Australia's place in the world. Taking up the role of Director of the Whitlam Institute I will seek to build a better connection between Australia's domestic policy discourse and our international engagement, with the guiding light of Gough Whitlam's vision for "a more equal, open, tolerant and independent Australia".'

Chair of the Whitlam Institute John Faulkner said 'Leanne Smith is a remarkable person who brings enormous talent, intellect and an extraordinary international outlook. Under her Directorship, the Whitlam Institute will continue to build its standing as a nationally significant body, as well as develop its presence in regional and global networks.'

Mr Faulkner added, 'On behalf of the Board of the Whitlam Institute I offer my warm thanks and immense appreciation to outgoing Director Eric Sidoti, whose contribution to this organisation has been profound. Amongst many achievements he assembled the country's most extensive Prime Ministerial Collection in a permanent home. He has overseen and enabled a body of policy, commentary, and civics education that is simply unmatched.'

Outgoing Director Eric Sidoti said, 'Leanne's highly applauded appointment heralds a new stage in the Whitlam Institute's evolution. She brings fresh ideas, fresh perspectives, extraordinary experience and expertise and a whole-hearted commitment to her leadership of the Institute. On her watch, the Institute's relevance to contemporary Australia and its contribution to public life will be taken to a whole new level.'

Ms Smith offered her own thanks to Mr Sidoti, with whom she has been working since January. 'Eric leaves an incredible legacy, and securing the future of the Institute is one of his great achievements. I thank him for his generous welcome to me in my first months at the Institute, and wish him all the best for his next chapter.'

Media Enquiries: Lyndal Howison – Communications Manager, Whitlam Institute – 0404 854 033


31 August 2017

Media Unit