Impact…Public Policy

“Dr. Ryan does not say “no,” “maybe,” or “later.” She embodies “yes,” “always,” and “now.”  She has worked tirelessly to bring scientific evidence to inform policy and mental health intervention efforts.” 

Prof. Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, Department of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California Irvine

An experienced leader of numerous pioneering international, national and state public policy initiatives, Dr. Ryan’s body of work includes national Deliberative Polls to build understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims; Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians; and whether or not Australia should become a Republic; as well as South Australia’s Constitutional Convention on Parliamentary Reform, International Assemblies on Managing the Psychology of Fear and Terror.

Reconciliation and Building Understanding

As Managing Director of international think/action tank and research institute Issues Deliberation Australia, Pamela led teams of psychologists, social workers, facilitators, researchers and over a thousand volunteers in initiatives to design, implement and research numerous pioneering national and international public policy initiatives. These included nationwide Deliberative Polls to build understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims; and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Enhancing the Deliberative Polling methodology, Pamela led hundreds of paid and volunteer team members including moderators — Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Former Speaker Ian Sinclair, and former Australian Governor General, Sir William Deane — over months of consultations including national random sample surveys, ‘deliberative’ focus groups around the country, expert consultations around the world, and several days of deliberations with 300+ representative Australian citizens and competing experts at Parliament House in Canberra. She authored Final Reports from these public policy projects — findings and present recommendations.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Reform and Human Rights

As Managing Director of Issues Deliberation America, Pamela designed and convened the ground-breaking International Assembly on Managing the Psychology of Fear and Terror. This Assembly of the world’s experts from psychology, psychiatry, social work, public policy and education — researchers and practitioners — resulted in a White Paper addressing strategies for managing fear and terror from the global to the individual levels. These findings, along withe a documentary made about the strategies, were presented to legislators and advisors on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and in Australian Federal and State Parliaments. This work spawned the international NGO, Psychology Beyond Borders, dedicated to combining psychosocial service delivery with rigorous research to inform policy and practice in the prevention, preparedness and response to disaster, armed conflict and terrorism.

Preparedness, Prevention & Response to Disaster, Armed Conflict and Terrorism

As Executive Chair of Psychology Beyond Borders – an international NGO dedicated to evidence-based prevention, response recovery in communities affected psychosocially by natural disaster, armed conflict or terrorism – Dr. Ryan led teams in bringing together vibrant communities of interdisciplinary and international problem solvers for initiatives in areas such as children associated with armed forces, psychosocial strategies for managing responses to repeated disasters, “doing no further harm,” and the psychology of microfinance, among many others. This work resulted in public policy papers and presentations on research findings to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, Capitol Hill in the USA (including a “Newsmaker Briefing” to the National Press Club” and Parliament House in Australia. Specific public policy recommendations included: managing the psychology of fear and terror; the psychology of torture; the role of language in perpetuating fear and terror; the psychology of racism and the ‘other’; national and international strategies for managing relations between Muslims and non-Muslims; designing and managing microfinance or psychosocial programs for optimal results while minimizing harm.