Annual Report 2014

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This year has seen the Academy expand its activities and influence, overcome challenges, and continue to promote its strengths and raise its profile to government and the wider community.

Importantly, we continued 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, the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (AASSREC), International Social Science Council (ISSC), Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS), Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Council for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS), Royal Society of New Zealand, Korean National Academy of Science, and the Research Alliance group, among others.

This year I took up the position of President of the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) with Dr John Beaton, Executive Director, assuming the role of Chair of the ACOLA Board. In the current funding environment, ACOLA plays an important role assisting ASSA, the Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of the Humanities, and the Australian Academy of the Technological Sciences and Engineering to work together for the Australian public, its institutions and their combined future.

We strongly believe that this collaboration embraces multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral and collaborative research on important issues of national priority. Through ACOLA, we have continued to work with our colleague academies through joint contributions to Securing Australia’s Future (SAF). The SAF initiative involves a $10 million program that has been charged with identifying the long- range needs of Australia as we seek, as a nation, to become more productive, competitive, and secure. To date, eight major SAF projects have focused on a number of key topics, including:

  • Australia’s comparative advantage
  • International comparisons of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education
  • Our regional embrace of Asian languages and cultures
  • The role of science, research and technology in lifting Australian productivity
  • New technologies and their role in our security, cultural, democratic, social and economic systems
  • The opportunity for an unconventional energy future
  • Australia’s agricultural future
  • Transport, urbanisation and fuel.

ACOLA is now considering funding an additional SAF project that would most likely be managed by ASSA.

The Academy contributes administrative support to projects and ASSA Fellows play a vital role in contributing and lending their expertise and skills to all of the projects. I thank each of these Fellows, whole- heartedly, for making such enthusiastic and important contributions to these important projects. 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, Panel, Policy and Advocacy, Early Career Award, Finance, ACOLA, Membership and Editorial 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 2014 ASSA symposium Population Ageing and Australia’s Future. I am sure we all look forward to the Cunningham Lecture, our panel meetings, the welcoming of new Fellows and the Paul Bourke Lecture awardee, and of course the Fellows Dinner.


We are always saddened by the passing of ASSA Fellows. This year we lost Professors Alan Boxer (28 June 2014), Steve Dowrick (3 August 2013), Jacqueline Goodnow (24 June 2014), Helen Hughes (15 June 3013) Paul Miller (27 November 2013), David Plowman (22 December 2013), Lado Ruzicka (10 June 2013), Don Spearritt (16 November 2013), Peter Wenderoth (September 2014) and Leslie Zines (31 May 2014). An obituary for Peter Wenderoth will be published in 2015. The Academy extends its condolences to their families, colleagues and friends. We will miss them. Vale.

Election of Fellows

Thirty-six distinguished social scientists were nominated for Fellowship this year, and 19 were elected. The procedures and policies governing election to Fellowship were also reviewed and updated, as is done annually. I congratulate each newly elected scholar on this significant honour, and look forward to introducing them to you in November. I also thank the Membership Committee and Panel Chairs for their exacting efforts in this difficult task.


We thank those who have made donations to the Academy this year: Emeritus Professor Keith Hancock, Professor Staniforth Ricketson, and Professor Henry Jackson. This support is one of the important ways that ASSA seeks to fund its mission to promote social science research and interdisciplinary cooperation on issues of national importance.

The year ahead

In the coming year ASSA will be called on again to provide advice in many forms to government, the non-government sector and industry. The social sciences must remind the broader community that what we do has a direct impact on their lives, our nation and the region. Social scientists, and the knowledge they produce provide the substance and architecture of most of our important public programs, including health care policy, education policy, governance systems, and political and economic opportunities. ASSA will continue to strengthen public sector relationships with Ministers, departments, universities and not for profit bodies.

The reach of the social sciences stretches into business and industry as well, and university graduates in the social sciences populate our public and private institutions perhaps more than those of the disciplines of our sister academies. We need to identify and promote the social science contributions to the public and private sectors more than we do, and this means we need to continue to raise our profile and be demonstrable in identifying what we do as social science.


Finally I would like to thank the ASSA Executive Committee, and the many Committee Members for their generous service. I especially thank both Dr John Beaton and the Secretariat for their support and knowledge in the administration of the Academy.

Deborah Terry

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