From the regulation of plumbers and nursing homes to preventing human trafficking, Professor Adam Graycar is a man of many hats.
An internationally-renowned expert in public and social policy, Professor Graycar is returning to Flinders University some 30 years after he left his teaching position in social administration to take up diverse lead roles in the academic, public and private sectors.
As the new Strategic Professor in Social and Policy Studies, Professor Graycar will rejoin the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Studies in a part-time capacity from July, before returning to Adelaide in January 2015.
“I have great memories of Flinders – it’s a university that’s doing terrific things and it’s a real gem in South Australia,” says Professor Graycar, who worked at Flinders from 1973 to 1980.
“Flinders gave me a wonderful career start so I hope I can give something back to the University,” he says.
“My goal at Flinders is to mentor, stimulate and work with my new colleagues to seek out good research opportunities for them and conduct high-quality research on how Australians live, and how we can harness the resources of the community to live better.”
Beginning his career as a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of New South Wales in 1970, Professor Graycar spent the next 15 years in various academic roles – including his seven-year stint at Flinders – before becoming Australia’s first Commissioner for the Ageing in 1985, an appointment by the South Australian Government to plan for Australia’s rapidly ageing population.
Between 1994 and 2003 he headed up the Federal Government’s Australian Institute of Criminology and represented Australia in several international fora such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation.
From 2003 to 2007 he headed the Cabinet Office in SA, and also had responsibility for the secretariat which coordinated federal/state relations and supported the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
During his COAG days he was a member of several working groups, including the COAG Skills Shortage Steering Committee and the COAG Double Jeopardy Working Group. He also chaired the COAG Plumbing Occupations Action Group – a position he considers one of his most rewarding.
“If a plumber registered in SA moved to Victoria they weren’t automatically able to work as a plumber. I chaired a taskforce which reported back to COAG on mobility and registration of plumbers.
“People often underestimate the importance of plumbing in our society, but this was also a major item of micro economic reform, and it’s something I’m very proud of.”
In 2007 he returned to academia to take up the post of Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey – one of the most highly-ranked schools in the US – while also participating in several UN task forces and projects.
Returning to Australia in 2010, he joined the Australian National University (ANU) as Professor of Public Policy before becoming ANU’s Foundation Dean of the Australian National Institute of Public Policy (until 2012) and also Director of the Research School of Social Sciences.
Concurrently spearheading the Transnational Research Institute on Corruption at ANU, Professor Graycar is now working with governments in Australia and abroad, as well as with many international organisations, to tackle various integrity issues.
In 2013 he also became President of the Australian Social Policy Association, a professional association of social policy educators, researchers, practitioners and policy makers.
Having authored more than 200 scholarly publications, Professor Graycar says government integrity and its relationship with public policy is fundamental to society.
“Private enterprises make the money which is very important, but if our public policies, processes and structures aren’t good we won’t go anywhere.
“Public and social policy is an enormously hard area to work through and we need the best and brightest minds to do the work.
“Returning to Flinders will allow me to put my experience to good stead to mentor younger academics, build links between the University, the government and the community sector, and lead research that matters for our wellbeing.”