It has been a good year for the Academy, due to actions taken by the Academy and to
new opportunities offered by others that the Academy has been able to grasp.
The final outcome of the government’s recent five-yearly review of the four
Academies was very good, much better than the prospect seemed to be when a draft report
on the review had been prepared. The final outcome was very positive in the conclusions
about the contribution of the Academy and in the level of government financial support
that has now been assured for the forthcoming years.
One of the most impressive parts of the Academy’s submission to the review was the
report on the work of the Academy’s Policy and Advocacy Committee. This committee has
conducted policy roundtables on topics on which Academy Fellows and other leading
researchers could contribute helpfully to policy development. The initiative in
nominating topics had generally been on the Academy side with discussion with senior
government officials to establish interest before a roundtable was organised.
In recent years, the Chair of the Policy and Advocacy Committee, Professor Dennis
Trewin, a former Chief Statistician and Head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics,
has reversed the process. He has consulted first at the highest levels in government
departments to identify current policy questions on which insights from social research
could be helpful. Dennis and his committee have then identified the Fellows and other
social scientists who would join the roundtable. This reversal in the process has
resulted in the effective participation in the roundtables of more senior government
officials and rendered the analyses and discussions more influential.
During the year, the Australian Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, proposed an
important new role for the four Academies in the national research program initiated
through the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC). On
10 April 2012, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research,
Senator Chris Evans, announced that the government would provide $10 million to fund
The work is being developed collaboratively by the four Academies through the
Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA, formerly the National Academies Forum),
which comprises the four Academy presidents and is supported by a small
The research program, under the title Securing Australia’s Future, is being
managed by a twelve-member Program Steering Committee on which three Fellows from each
Academy sit. The Academy of the Social Sciences’ members are Professor Ruth Fincher,
Professor John Quiggin and Professor Dennis Trewin. PMSEIC has nominated six projects
for the first phase of work in the program. Chairs of Expert Working Groups for the
projects were appointed by ACOLA on the recommendations of the Program Steering
Committee in July 2012. Two of the six are Fellows of ASSA: Professor Glenn Withers for
the project Australia’s Comparative Advantage and Professor Simon Marginson
for the project STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics):
country comparisons. There will be Fellows from each of the Academies in all of the
Expert Working Groups to provide the multidisciplinary perspectives that the Chief
Scientist is seeking in this program.
The four Academies have collaborated in various ways through the National Academies
Forum and then through ACOLA, which replaced the Forum. This new PMSEIC research
program has brought that cross- Academy collaboration to a whole new level from which
the country and the Academies should derive substantial benefit.
Election of Fellows
In 2012, seventeen new Fellows were elected, bringing the total membership of the
Academy to 540.
The following Fellows died during the year: Allan Douglas Barton (Economics);
Roderick Peter McDonald (Psychology); Raymond (Harry) Edwards (Economics); Hyland
(Hank) Nelson (History); Issy Pilowsky (Pscyhology); and Alan George Lewers Shaw
We extend condolences to their families, colleagues and friends. Obituaries for most
appear elsewhere in this volume. Obituaries for Raymond Edwards and Issy Pilowsky were
not available at the time of publication.
We thank those who have made donations to the Academy this year: Professors Stephen
Castles, Bruce Chapman, Keith Hancock, Joseph Isaac, Barry McGaw, Bernadette McSherry,
Staniforth Ricketson, Peter Spearritt, and Bob Tonkinson.
Executive Director, Dr John Beaton, and the other staff in the national office serve
the Academy very well. They ensure that the Academy’s programs are well supported in a
My three-year term as President of the Academy concludes at the end of December
2012. It has been a privilege to serve in this role as well as very enjoyable. I have
worked with an Executive of committed and able Fellows who with their committees and
panels contribute enormously to the work and life of the Academy.