ANU College of Law graduate, Sibella Matthews, has been awarded a prestigious Robert Gordon Menzies Scholarship for postgraduate study at Harvard University in the United States.
Sibella, who gained her Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at ANU Law in 2014, will take up her postgraduate degree in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government later this year, focusing on the protection of children’s rights.
Currently working as a policy advisor to the New South Wales Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton, Sibella said she was keen to use her Harvard experience to develop the skills and leadership to drive transformational change in Australia’s approach to child protection and juvenile justice.
“I hope to address the structural deficiencies in our society that further punish and marginalise children born into situations of socio-economic disadvantage and neglect.
“I’m driven by my personal philosophy that the most valuable investment a society can make in the pursuit of social justice is in the well-being of its children,” she said.
Sibella said she was keen to develop innovative policy reforms that would bring the states and territories to decrease the number of children in need of protection being caught up in the criminal justice system.
The 26-year-old solicitor has worked as a legal officer on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse where she helped draft the Commissioners’ Case Study Reports and Interim Report to Government. She has also worked in the Sydney office of law firm Allens and was Associate to the Hon Justice Mellissa Perry in the Federal Court of Australia in 2015.
Sibella’s community contributions have included serving as president of the United Nations Youth Association of NSW, volunteering as a telephone crisis supporter at Lifeline and working as a mentor at the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre for Girls.
The Sir Robert Menzies Scholarships are valued at US$60,000 and are Australia’s most prestigious national awards for postgraduate study in the United States. They are jointly awarded by the Harvard Club of Australia, The Australian National University and the Menzies Foundation.