Governance of the institute

The Institute of Open Adoption Studies will be an institute of The University of Sydney, whose governing authority is the Senate of the University under The University of Sydney Act 1989 (as amended). The Senate devolves day-to-day management of the University to the Vice-Chancellor who will devolve management of the institute to the Head of School and Dean of Sydney School of Education and Social Work. Institute staff and their reporting lines shall be as follows.

  • A professorial director (reporting to the dean) who, in addition to conducting high-level research personally, will lead and manage the institute and have overall responsibility for its strategic development (including its research agenda), the engagement of stakeholders, the dissemination of research outputs, and the supervision of staff.

  • A senior researcher (reporting to the director), who will supervise research staff, students and associate researchers, conduct high-level research, initiate collaborative research partnerships, seek funding opportunities, and manage the infrastructure and resources of the institute.

  • A research-to-practice expert (RTPE) (reporting to the director), who will provide expert research-led advice to practitioners, the judiciary, adopted children, biological and adoptive parents, and the wider community. The research focus of the RTPE will be on the systemic and procedural barriers to open adoptions for children.

  • Associate staff (reporting to the senior researcher), may include associate and postdoctoral researchers; collaborative or visiting researchers; and doctoral, master's and undergraduate students from diverse areas including social work, psychology, social policy, law, and education.

The director will be accountable to a Governance Committee that will provide oversight of the institute's operations and functions. The Governance Committee will comprise three University of Sydney members nominated by the Vice-Chancellor (one of whom will be Dean of The Sydney School of Education and Social Work), and two Barnardos’ members (one of whom will be the CEO of Barnardos Australia; the other a nominee of the Barnardos’ Board).

A non-executive Advisory Group provides advice and guidance to the director. The Advisory Group is comprised of members spanning a range of perspectives and expertise in open adoption, including:

  • expert researchers and practitioners

  • adopted children (including those adopted prior to 1980)

  • biological and adoptive parents

  • the judiciary, legal practitioners, and social historians.

The institute will publish an annual report of its activities. The report will set out how its research agenda was formed, including how it incorporates the lived experience of those who have been adopted, have had a child adopted, have adopted or are seeking adoption. This report will be made available to the Advocate for Children and Young People.