Dr Tess Newton Cain

Adjunct Associate Professor

School of Political Science and International Studies
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Adjunct Associate Professor to the School of Political Science and International Studies.

I am an expert on Pacific politics, policy and development with over 20 years of experience as an academic, a consultant and a commentator for national and international media outlets (including the BBC, Radio Australia, the ABC, SBS News, Radio New Zealand). Between 1997 and 2001 I was a Lecturer in Law at the University of the South Pacific.

Since 2001 I have run my own consultancy business in addition to maintaining a research profile. My clients have included the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the UN. During 2017 I worked as a strategic adviser to the Office of the President in Vanuatu.

I have an extensive research and publications record which covers criminal law and procedure, governance, private sector development in the Pacific island region, Pacific regionalism and sub-regionalism, economic impacts of natural disasters in the Pacific, green growth as a policy driver, and the rule of law as an aspect of democratic culture.

I am a Visiting Fellow to the Crawford School at ANU and a senior research adjunct to the Cairns Institute at JCU.

Research Interests

  • Pacific islands region - politics
    Political developments in the Pacific island region at national, regional and sub-regional levels including diplomatic engagement and participation of women in political decision making
  • Pacific islands region - policy
    The formulation, implementation and evaluation of policy initiatives in the Pacific island region at national, sub-regional and regional levels.
  • Pacific islands region - development
    How Pacific island governments work singly and in unison to develop the economies and societies of the region.

Research Impacts

I have a great deal of experience in knowledge translation with particular focus on making relevant research available to Pacific policy makers, and wider communities through a number of formats. This includes convening and brokering events such as the Pacific Health Governance workshop that was held at UQ during February of 2018. I also work with organisations (e.g. the Pacific Leadership Program) to translate academic research into knowledge products, such as discussion papers and case studies to facilitate greater sharing of findings within the development community in the Pacific and beyond.

I am the co-editor of 'Pacific Stories' which is now in its 3rd edition. It brings together a collection of Pacific-focused blog posts from the 'Devpolicy' blog and is made available online and in hard copy. I have made this resource available to political leaders (including heads of government), public servants, development partners and educators in Vanuatu, Fiji, Australia and elsewhere in the Pacific islands region.

I am the co-ordinator of 'Pacific Conversations' which provides a platform for Pacific island thinkers to discuss key issues and share their thinking with an international audience. Participants have included prime ministers, heads of regional organisations, civil society activists, and members of the private sector. There is a particular focus on promoting the voices of women through this initiative.


View all Publications



Book Chapter

  • Jowitt, Anita and Newton Cain, Tess (2010). Introduction. In Anita Jowitt and Tess Newton Cain (Ed.), Introduction (pp. 1-4) Canberra, ACT Australia: ANU E Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication