Edward Archibald (BA 1999/ LLB (Hons) 1999)
2 September 2013 (*edited 6 October 2015)
Chief of Social Policy
Edward Archibald never imagined he would become the kind of person who roasts his own coffee beans. But the *former head of the Australian aid program in Sri Lanka has acquired the skill since graduating from Melbourne Law School in 1999. Below is a story he shared with us in 2013.
Edward is a Melbourne boy born and bred after all, and Colombo is just not like home on the coffee-front: "It's pretty desperate over here. And I'm not a big fan of tea," he laughs.
Since completing his LLB, Edward hasn't spent much time in Melbourne, where his father and brother still practise as barristers, and there aren't many corners of the world he hasn't been, including far flung corners of Australia.
His time on campus at Melbourne was full – exploring interests in theatre and musicals (including Law Revues), and the outdoors, with hiking and rowing. During a six-month break he travelled in Romania: "I realised I wanted to make a contribution to people who were less fortunate than I was; I just didn't know how I wanted to do that."
After graduation, he spent five months volunteering at a Guatemalan orphanage then travelled extensively in South America, China, Mongolia, Pakistan and Iran. He returned to Australia to undertake articles at Allens, moving to the Perth office in the second year, with his partner (now wife), Susan.
There was a stint working for the Hon Justice Hayne AC of the High Court of Australia in 2003, which Edward recalls as "a real privilege and immensely stimulating". He then went to the UK where he was the only lawyer among 25 completing Development Studies at the University of Oxford, before returning to Australia and a position in Cairns.
The journey had awakened a realisation: "The law is tremendously powerful and can have an enormous impact on people's lives. But … I gradually realised I wanted to have an impact in many areas of their lives, and not solely through the prism of law."
Edward considers the two years (2006–2008) he spent in Cairns a career highlight and one in which his law degree and experience, as well as his studies at Oxford were well deployed. He worked for Noel Pearson at the Cape York Institute and was part of the team responsible for the much-debated proposal which included a new statutory body: the Family Responsibilities Commission, part of a four-year $96 million pilot of Cape York Welfare Reform adopted in 2008.
"I get quite tingly and emotional every time I think of the work we did there or see it depicted on TV. Anyone who knows me will say I could talk about indigenous policy all night," said Edward, noting that a recent independent evaluation of the pilot shows promising results.
Despite early aspirations of becoming a country vet, this father of three is now *Chief of Social Policy at UNICEF Malawi after spending a few years with AusAID as Counsellor, Development Cooperation, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
"I changed my plans many times during law school. My law degree set me up well to do lots of different things, which is my nature. What I needed was a good foundation, and the law gave me that."