The Academy is an effective and vital organisation with a proud history, a membership with remarkable talents, and strong networks and relationships for realising its strategic goals. The Academy has a proven record of continual improvement and achieving a great deal with modest resources and this past year was no exception.
This year has seen the Academy continue to engage effectively with the other Learned Academies, the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Department of Education, as well as fostering partnerships with universities, secondary schools, the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (AASSREC), Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS), Council for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS), the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Research Alliance, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), as well as engaging with the Department of Social Services, CSIRO, DFAT, AIMS, and ANSTO.
Through the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), we have continued to work with our colleague academies in joint contributions to Securing Australia’s Future (SAF) projects. The SAF initiative wraps up in the coming year and ASSA has contributed much, principally to the SAF01 project Australia’s Comparative Advantage and the SAF02 project STEM: Country Comparisons. Nineteen Academy Fellows have donated their time and knowledge to participate in expert working groups across the 12 SAF projects, and we thank them for their dedication. Their contributions make it clear that translating social science knowledge into public policy development, social equity and stability, and national enhancement are critical to securing Australia’s future strength.
Elsewhere in this Annual Report we have provided a summary of the accomplishments achieved through the ASSA Programs, each of which serves the social science community and the public interest. None of our programs would be possible without the work of our Fellows who contribute through the International, Workshop, Public Forums and Communication Panel, Policy and Advocacy, Early Career Award, Finance, ACOLA, and Membership committees. Chairs of each of these committees sit on ASSA’s Executive Committee and I thank them deeply for their effort, wisdom and camaraderie.
I look forward to the coming 2015 ASSA symposium Social Insurance for the 21st Century? Exploring pathways for a sustainable, equitable and effective welfare system. I am sure we all look forward to the Cunningham Lecture, our panel meetings, the welcoming of new Fellows and the Paul Bourke awardee, and of course the Fellows’ Dinner.
The passing of ASSA Fellows always saddens us. This year we lost Professors Hugh Stretton (19 September 2014), Graeme Hugo (20 January 2015), Donald Anthony Low (12 February 2015), John McBain Grant (10 April 2015), Ken Pearson (12 May 2015), Richard Cornes (22 August 2015), and Geoffrey Bolton (4 September 2015). Obituaries for five Fellows are included in this report. Obituaries for Professors Richard Cornes and Geoffrey Bolton will be published in 2016.
The Academy extends its condolences to their families, colleagues and friends. We will miss them.
Election of Fellows
Forty-four distinguished social scientists were nominated for Fellowship this year, and a record-breaking 30 were elected. I congratulate each newly elected scholar on this significant honour, and look forward to introducing them to you in November.
Following the integration of feedback from existing Fellows, engagement in the election process has also improved with 43 per cent of eligible Fellows voting this year, up from 36 per cent last year. I gratefully thank all Fellows who took to time to participate in shaping the future of the Academy. I also thank the Membership Committee and Panel Chairs for their exacting and diligent efforts in this important task.
At the 2014 Annual Dinner the Academy recognized the inaugural Jubilee Fellows. Emeritus Professor John Legge AO (Panel C, History) and Emeritus Professor Ronald Taft (Panel D, Psychology) were elected to the Academy in 1964 and were recognized for 50 years of Fellowship and service to the social sciences.
At the 2015 Annual Dinner we will be recognizing twenty-two Fellows who have achieved 40 years or more of Fellowship. The 2015 Jubilee Fellows are Professor Donald Aitkin, Emeritus Professor Reginald Appleyard, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Emeritus Professor John Caldwell, Professor Ross Day, Professor Norman Feather, Emeritus Professor Ronald Gates, Professor Peter Glow, Emeritus Professor Keith Hancock, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Harcourt, Emeritus Professor Ken Inglis, Professor Frank Jones, Emeritus Professor Sydney Lovibond, Professor Leon Mann, Emeritus Professor John Nevile, Emeritus Professor Raymond Over, Emeritus Professor Jim Perkins, Emeritus Professor Alan Powell, Emeritus Professor John Poynter, Emeritus Professor William Sinclair, Emeritus Professor Robert Smith, and Emeritus Professor Gerard Ward.
Donations from Fellows and others are one of the important ways that ASSA seeks to fund its mission and provides us with a level of flexibility to fund innovative solutions for achieving our aims. We thank those who have made donations to the Academy this year for their generosity: Emeritus Professor Keith Hancock, Professor Staniforth Ricketson, Professor Henry Jackson, Professor Hal Kendig, Professor Margaret Thornton, Emeritus Professor Pat Michie, Professor Robert Lingard, Professor Lyn English, and Professor Chin-Liew Ten.
The Year Ahead
Over the next 12 months, ASSA will continue to strive to promote and advocate for the value of the social sciences, to government, industry, business, and the public. One of the important messages we will be advocating is the impact of social scientists in shaping the nation. Their impact on the community is felt most strongly through programs, policies and systems in education, healthcare, law, employment, social policy, welfare, and environmental policy. Social science graduates account for over 43 per cent of members of the Australian Public Service and over 67 per cent of CEOs of ASX200 listed companies.
As important as it is to build science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) capacity in Australia, it is equally important to recognise the vital role the social sciences play when developing policies and effective instruments for development, innovation, and international engagement. The alliance of STEM and social science disciplines is critical to the success of any knowledge-based enterprise. Innovation involves more than technological developments, it also encompasses ways of doing things, such as understanding systems, cultures and the ways in which society uses and adopts new ideas. The important contribution of the social sciences for innovation, productivity, and community improvement cannot be overstated.
Finally, I would like to thank the ASSA Executive Committee, and the many Committee members for their generous service. I especially thank the Secretariat for their support, and commitment to the smooth and highly professional administration of the Academy.
As my term as President concludes, I would like to welcome Professor Glenn Withers to the position of Academy President. I am sure he will enjoy a fulfilling and productive relationship with the Academy, as have I.