Head of Communications

Position:  Head of Communications

Location: Sydney, Australia

Reporting to: Executive Director

Supervising: Two managers, in a department of seven

Status: Full Time, permanent.

Start date: October 2017


I. Organisational Context

Médecins Sans Frontières Australia is one of the leading independent organisations for medical humanitarian aid in Australia and the region, and its core mission has been strengthened in recent years which has led to growth and increasing contribution and support to the global MSF movement. One of 28 offices across the world, and established in 1995, MSF Australia's contribution to public debate, understanding of the key humanitarian crises affecting populations in the world, influencing humanitarian aid policy discussion are all key drivers of its communications strategy today and in the future.


II. Job Purpose:

To design, lead and direct Médecins Sans Frontières Australia communication strategies and actions aimed at supporting the generation of resources (money and field workers), the good functioning of our operations in Australia and New Zealand, bearing witness to the plight of our patients, and publicly positioning MSFA on key international and national issues within Australian and New Zealand civil society.


III. Overall Responsibility

The Head of communications is responsible to design, lead and account for MSF Australia’s communications strategy, adding meaningful value to the MSF movement, MSF operations globally and specifically within the Operational Centre Paris partnership and directing all communications activities within Australia and New Zealand. The position reports directly to the Executive Director and is a permanent member of the Executive Leadership Team.


III. Main Tasks / Duties

  • Establish MSF Australia’s communication strategy, and supervise and account for the implementation of this reporting directly to the Executive Director 
  • Establish and maintain MSF Australia’s brand and identity in Australia and New Zealand in close collaboration with fundraising and other internal stakeholders 
  • Establish and maintain a network of relationships within and outside of MSF to further the aims and ambitions of MSF Australia  
  • Participate actively within the OCP group in setting and fulfilling OCP communications priorities in support of OCP operations and OCP positioning  
  • Ensure MSF Australia effectively engages with the media of Australia and New Zealand  
  • Establish and maintain MSF Australia’s digital strategy and approach in Australia and New Zealand 
  • Establish and oversee a community engagement approach meeting the needs of internal and external stakeholders 
  • Protect the MSF Australia brand and identity during critical events and incidents  
  • Ensure communications support to international dossiers and projects hosted by MSF Australia, including (but not only) the Speaking Out Case Studies Project  
  • Oversee editorial process to ensure the accuracy and quality of external content, including the drafting of materials for external audiences such as opinion editorial articles, position papers, resource generating campaigns, for major metropolitan and national print and online media, on-line social media, MSF and other publications, and other opinion-forming and international policy publications. 
  • Oversee all department requirements in terms human and financial resource management. 


VI. Internal communication and networking: 

  • Maintain a networking strategy media, NGO, academia, health, research sectors within Australia and New Zealand as relevant to MSF Australia communications  
  • Actively liaise with the established MSF OC and International Office communication architecture such as the International office, Paris and partner communications departments, other MSF communications hubs etc. to monitor policy and practice within the MSF movement, and formulate those of relevance into MSF Australia’s communications approach 
  • Liaise directly with Operational Centre operations desks/cells & field missions/projects as required & relevant to support operational objectives to leverage better outcomes for patients  
  • Ensure internal information dissemination across the MSF Sydney office, board and association  
  • Coordinate directly with the Speaking Out Case Studies manager in relation to the development of internal and external communication strategies 
  • Coordinate directly with the Advocacy & Public Affairs manager in relation to the development of internal and external communication strategies  


V. Resource Generation: 

  • Ensure effective communications of MSF’s principles of humanitarian action to key target audiences in Australian and New Zealand including field workers, supporters, key opinion formers and the medical sector 
  • Oversee communications support to fundraising programs in Australia and New Zealand including community engagement, information and analysis 


VI. Digital management and innovation: 

  • Ensure MSF Australia communications strategy responds to the main trends and innovations in digital communications technology 
  • Liaise with and support the International Office communications team, particularly in regards to digital adaptation across the MSF movement 


VII. Operational and medical communications: 

  • Work with Operational Centre Paris (OCP) in establishing MSF Australia’s communications support with regards to operational and medical communications objectives 
  • Ensure communications support to the Medical Unit in Sydney with regards to its ongoing women’s and child health technical program, and all other objectives 
  • Liaise with and ensure HR or technical support on request to the international field communications pool and all operational centres during emergencies and crises where possible 


VIII. Resource Management:

  • Supervise all aspects financial management and accountability of the Communications department, including annual and multi-year budget forecasting, quarterly adjustments and quarterly and annual financial reporting 
  • Ensure the recruitment, performance management and professional development of a department team, including full and part time staff.  


IX. Board and Executive Management Team Interactions

  • Participate actively as a member of the Executive Management Team and provide input on organisational policy, positioning and management issues, with the objective of reaching the best outcomes for MSF Australia at all times.
  • Represent the interests of the Communications Department.
  • Lead Médecins Sans Frontières Australia cross cutting dossiers as identified and delegated within the executive management team
  • Liaise on behalf of the executive management team with ad-hoc working groups on special projects as identified and agreed within the management team.
  • Undertake such assignments or projects as may be required by the Executive Director or Board.
  • Assume acting Executive Director responsibilities when requested to cover periods of absence or during the management of critical incidents and emergencies
  • Contribute to annual risk review exercises
  • Together with the Executive Director provide twice yearly updates on the progress of Communications and other relevant sector contextual information.
  • Liaise with the relevant committees of the Board, particularly the Brand and Resource Committee (BRiC), participate in meetings where required, and provide updates and information where relevant.


X. Internal Relationships

  • Ensure all internal relationships, both individual and interdepartmental, are of a high standard and contribute positively to the growth of the Fundraising Department and the organisation as a whole.


  • Lead and manage crisis communications during critical events requiring the response of the Crisis Management Call in accordance with MSFA crisis management guidelines.
  • Support the Executive Director in the analysis and response to medical humanitarian emergencies/crisis as they develop 
  • Support the Executive Director in identifying and presenting to external forums where MSF can influence and enhance specific  
  • Support the Executive Director (and/or Leadership Team) on strategic MSF Australia dossiers as sought after and required.   


XI. Selection Criteria


  • Extensive knowledge/experience of MSF field operations including emergencies and disasters 
  • High level political analysis, research and writing skills 
  • Senior experience in media management & willingness to act as a spokesperson on complex and challenging medical humanitarian issues 
  • A minimum of 6 years of senior management experience in the not for profit sector 
  • Significant people and financial management experience 
  • Fluency in written and spoken English 
  • Availability for international travel to both MSF offices and field projects 
  • Highly computer literate 
  • Commitment to aims and values of MSF 
  • Experience in journalism, communications or public relations 
  • Knowledge of communications theory and best practice 
  • Experience and knowledge of development, implementation and management of digital strategy and tools  


XII. Desirable

  • Established network of contacts within Australian and New Zealand media sector   
  • High levels of literacy in digital development and practice  
  • Experience in developing and managing marketing and brand strategies 
  • Experience and strong understanding of basic principles of fundraising and recruitment in the humanitarian sector 
  • Competency in French. Competency in other languages (Spanish, Arabic, Russian, etc.) an asset  
  • Master degree or equivalent experience in related field



Applications MUST address individual selection criteria.  You should also write a cover letter indicating why you want to work for Médecins Sans Frontières Australia and attach a copy of your CV.

Please note that a criminal record check will be required as part of the selection process.  Applicants with criminal records will not automatically be ineligible for the position they are applying for.

Médecins Sans Frontières Australia has a Child Protection Policy in place and all employees are required to comply with this policy (which is available on our website).

Email: officerecruitment@sydney.msf.org

Closing date:  Sunday 17 September 2017