Dana Esperanza

2018 Early Career Recipient, College of Arts, Society and Education

Over the past decade, Dana Esperanza has worked in social welfare policy and practice in Australia, Europe and Asia. She has provided consultancy services for the Senhoa Foundation, an anti-human trafficking organisation in Cambodia, where her monitoring and evaluation work and recommendations assisted the organisation to restructure its artisan training program into a successful social enterprise for vulnerable young women. Prior to this, Ms Esperanza managed a landmark case-law precedent in the United Kingdom, facilitating the first United Kingdom–United States inter-country adoption.

Using her breadth of field work experience, she now provides public policy advice as Director in the Commonwealth Government. Her policy expertise has extended to areas including sex and disability discrimination, human rights and housing.

In addition to her public policy work, Ms Esperanza has worked on key gender equality initiatives in the workplace, including advising the CEO in his role as a Male Champion of Change, and developing a domestic violence resource guide for employers, employees and colleagues.

In her personal time, Ms Esperanza is committed to supporting women and girls in her community and beyond. She is the Chair of Beryl Women Inc, Australia’s longest running women’s refuge, where she uses her skills and experience to tackle the complexities of domestic and family violence. Over the past two years as Chair, she has introduced a number of new initiatives to raise the national profile of Beryl Women Inc and provide leadership development opportunities for women.

Dana’s commitment to supporting women in leadership contributed to her introducing a successful board training program for women seeking to gain board experience. Dana regularly mentors women within and outside her Board of Directors to support their development. Recently, Dana nominated a Board Director to represent Beryl Women Inc as Australia’s civil society advocate in the Human Rights Council 38th session, held in Geneva. This opportunity has elevated Beryl Women Inc’s status as an advocacy body for women’s rights, and provided stretch opportunities for her team.

Ms Esperanza sits on the ACT Government’s Ministerial Advisory Council on Women, where she provides advice directly to the Minister for Women, and assists with the development of the ACT Women’s Plan. She has also developed a policy in her personal time, to introduce a public holiday to celebrate Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and successfully lobbied the ACT Government to adopt her proposal. The first Reconciliation Day was held on 28 May 2018, and will continue to be celebrated annually in the ACT.

Ms Esperanza holds a Master of Politics and Public Policy from Macquarie University, a Master of Human Rights from the University of Sydney, and a Bachelor of Social Science from Sunshine Coast University.

Dana Esperanza graduated James Cook University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Social Work and was awarded the Academic Medal.