Sarah is a lawyer who has worked in the areas of health, medicine, intellectual property and ethics for more than 25 years. Positions she has held include in-house counsel for State and Commonwealth Health departments, General Counsel and Director of Ethics for the Australian Medical Association, Human Rights Advisor to the ACT Government, ACT Public Advocate and, most recently, the Executive Director responsible for research integrity at the National Health & Medical Research Council, including the project to harmonise clinical trials ethical review, and the management of research misconduct allegations. She chairs two HRECs and is the lawyer on a third, a member of APHRA professional disciplinary committees, and an independent director of the Australian College of Optometrists.
Sarah is an accredited mediator with particular experience in the resolution of workplace disputes, and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, maintaining an interest and involvement in clinical and corporate governance in the non-profit sector. She has proficiency in chairing and facilitating meetings, including the ACT Government’s working group on Substituted Decision-Making, and its Sexual Assault Reform Project, both of which resulted in positive legislative change. Sarah is a knowledgeable and popular presenter and trainer, with particular expertise in good decision-making and regulatory compliance. She is also a capable investigator with experience in workplace conduct and research misconduct processes.
Sarah is also recognised for her considerable expertise in information and privacy law, having headed the Information Law practice of a national law firm and produced an award-winning manual for the Commonwealth Department of Health. She has been closely involved in the development of policy and legislation around informed consent and substituted decision-making in several of her previous roles. Her work in human rights and the protection of vulnerable people has informed her approach to research ethics. Her background in both the teaching and practice of regulatory compliance has convinced her of the value of an educative, receptive and facilitative approach that builds a culture of compliance, rather than reliance on sanctions. She believes that the process of ethical review should be a vehicle, not an obstacle, to the efficient delivery of high-quality research.