When the email invitation from Infrastructure NSW landed in her inbox, Dr Anna Boucher was quick to respond.
As a global expert on immigration, Dr Boucher is often approached for expert advice on economic migration and migration data. She is also a Research Leader at the Sydney Policy Lab.
In this instance, following the invitation, the Department of Infrastructure NSW consulted her for a COAG Submission on immigration and population growth in NSW, given her expertise on immigration and population issues.
It is expected that the Prime Minister will make an announcement about this issue later in the year.
Dr Boucher’s books ‘Crossroads: comparative immigration regimes in a world of demographic change’ and ‘Gender, migration and the global race for talent’ have reached government circles, spreading the impact of her research.
Her work garnered interest after she met senior officials as a keynote speaker at the Lowy Institute Forum on Economic Migration in 2016. Government staff then heard Dr Boucher’s keynote speech at a conference at the Australian National University, widening her circles further.
Senior bureaucrats in the Department of Home Affairs, who are interested in comparative approaches to the selection of skilled immigrants globally, also read her work.
Subsequently they invited her to speak at the Department’s Industry Summit, attended by thousands of government and industry partners.
Research impact is the ability to make our research translatable outside of the academy.
“It might be that our research informs bureaucrats’ background knowledge or it might be more concretely impactful in terms of presenting creative solutions to pressing policy problems,” said Dr Boucher.
“Government realises increasingly that policy problems are complex and multifaceted and that expertise from across society, including the academy, is vital in addressing these challenges.”
Being awarded a SOAR Fellowship in 2018 meant Dr Boucher will be able to spread her skills through mentoring other migration researchers at the University.
Further afield, the funding is giving Dr Boucher a chance to take her work overseas. She explained her plans: “My SOAR Fellowship in 2019-2020 will enable me to maximise the research impact of my research on the exploitation of migrant workers. To this end, I have designed ‘impact trips’ with government officials in London, Ottawa, Washington D.C. and Canberra, as well as with peak lobby groups and international agencies, as a key component of my SOAR schedule. Media impact will also be an important dimension of this work.”