Skye Saunders
Chancellor's Alumni Award Winner

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Science, 1997

Dr Skye Saunders has made outstanding achievements to date in situating the prevalence of gendered harm in rural Australia and working to generate national dialogue towards its redress. Graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 2004 and a PhD in Law in 2015, she now works as the Director of the Master of Legal Practice at the Australian National University. She looks back on her time at the University of Canberra with fond memories.

“I had the most fabulous time living on campus and many of my best friends today are people who I met during those years. We would often sit outside International House or Old Res until dawn, pondering life, the stars and the journey ahead of us all.”

In the course of her PhD research Skye uncovered a ‘cultural epidemic’ of entrenched, gendered harm in traditionally male dominated, bush workplaces which inspired her book, Whispers from the Bush – The Workplace Sexual Harassment of Australian Rural Women. She travelled all around Australia to interview more than 100 women for the work; the first in its kind to consider sexual harassment in rural workplaces in Australia. Skye collaborated with the Victorian Women’s Trust to produce a short documentary called ‘Grace under Fire’, which has sparked further discussion about the issue around Australia.

Over recent years Skye has directed the development of the ANU Juris Doctor (online) program and directed the ANU GDLP program. With a passion for public speaking, she recently returned from a trip to the UK where she spoke at numerous events in London and Edinburgh, and is something she hopes will continue in the future.

“I love the opportunities to engage with fascinating new people, whether in the classroom, conferences or in the course of my fieldwork. I am also particularly energised by public speaking – I think I could do this part of my job every single day and be fulfilled!”

Skye actively engages with community leaders and networks, sharing the results of her research and exploring practical avenues for facilitating change including the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Commissioner and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

A passionate advocate for issues of gender and law, her next research project will explore the manifestations of workplace sexual discrimination through women’s voices and consider creative legal solutions.

“I am inspired by women who actively live the suffragette’s motto ‘deeds not words’. For example, I inwardly celebrate the women in Australia who have the most courage to report workplace sexual harassment, particularly where there is a lot at stake in their circumstances. Having the courage to move so far outside of one’s comfort takes strength and guts, but it is critical to broader cultural change.”


Arts and Humanities; Cultural Heritage; Science