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Menzies Foundation Newsletter March 2016

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  Newsletter No: 1  |   March 2016  
Menzies Foundation News

Welcome from the CEO

Sarah Hardy CEOWelcome to the Menzies Foundation’s first newsletter for our friends and stakeholders.

As we work to inspire and nurture Australia’s future leaders, we are very keen to share with you the stories of the wonderful things our Menzies Scholars achieve.

In this edition you will read about a new smartphone app developed to help parents identify the early warning signs of autism spectrum disorder, research into gambling marketing in social media and an $8.8 million national program on the management of back pain. All the result of – in many cases – world-first work by Menzies Scholars.

I must congratulate outstanding Menzies alumna, Professor Robyn O’Hehir, awarded an AO on Australia Day for distinguished service to clinical immunology and respiratory medicine. Her work to find a cure for peanut allergy is ground breaking and it is great to see her recognised for her achievements.

In addition to our postgraduate scholarships, the Menzies Foundation also works to create a vibrant future for all Australians by supporting and fostering health and medical research. We will bring you updates on this work too from the Menzies institutes in Darwin, Hobart and the Gold Coast.

The third pillar of our work is to celebrate the legacy of Sir Robert Menzies and perpetuate his beliefs about the impact of education on the wellbeing of all Australians. You will see this reflected in our work, particularly in the Wimmera region of Victoria.

We will report on the Foundation’s activities quarterly and I would love to hear any of your feedback at 

Sarah Hardy

Menzies Scholars achieve amazing things 

Our Menzies Scholars show their leadership in many different ways in the paths they choose. Here are a few recent highlights:

  • Dr Josie Barbaro's decade-long research into the early detection of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with over 30,000 children, is behind the questions and videos on a new smartphone app, which helps parents spot the ‘red flags’ for ASD. The free ASDetect app, created by Salesforce in partnership with La Trobe University, helps parents and others detect autism-related behaviours to help with early intervention and better outcomes. Josie is the 2006 Menzies Allied Health Scholar. As you would expect with such a major breakthrough, there was significant media coverage and the app was downloaded over 5000 times in the first week.

  • Dr Nick Huntington's team at the Walter and Eliza Hall have discovered a way to switch on the body’s natural killer cells that detect and kill cancer cells, which may lead to more targeted cancer treatments. Dr Huntington is the 2006 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow.

  • 2014 Menzies Engineering Scholar, David Bowly, has been involved in an initiative to deliver a sustainable computer-based teaching program for schools in rural India. The Menzies alumni has a long history of contributing to the community – so much so that it is a core element of our selection criteria across our scholarships. David’s work in India is just one of many examples of our scholars ‘giving back’ and helping create a better world.

  • Professor Paul Hodges will be leading an $8.8 million program of research across three universities in three states, approaching the treatment and management of back pain and osteoarthritis from all angles. The research is funded by the NHMRC and is a collaborative program between the University of Queensland, the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney. An expert in spinal pain, Paul has PhDs in physiotherapy and neuroscience and is the 1994 Menzies Allied Health Scholar.

  • Chester BrownMeanwhile Professor Chester Brown (pictured) was one of four barristers (led by the Commonwealth Solicitor-General) acting for the Australian Government in its win over Phillip Morris Asia Ltd. The government successfully defended a challenge to the tobacco plain packaging legislation which was brought under a bilateral investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong. Professor of International Law and International Arbitration at the University of Sydney, 2000 Menzies Scholar in Law, and a barrister specialising in public international law, Chester is often involved in disputes before international courts and tribunals. Some say the outcome of this case is likely to give other countries confidence to follow Australia’s lead on plain packaging.
  • 2007 Menzies Allied Health Scholar and gambling research expert, Dr Sally Gainsburypublished her latest research showing that moderate risk or problem gamblers report that their problems worsened as a result of exposure to and engagement with social media advertisements for gambling.

  • In some fascinating research, 2005 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow, Dr Adrian Liston, and his team in Belgium found that one of the most important factors that altered an individual's immune system was whether they co-parented a child.

  • Dr Ben Spagnolo, 2006 Menzies Scholar in Law, has just published his first book, examining the phenomenon of the continuity of legal systems with a particular focus on Australian law and history.

  • FODMAPs expert and dietician, Dr Jaci Barrett (2006 Menzies Allied Health Scholar), has been taking her research to a world-wide audience, talking about her findings on implementing the FODMAPs diet, which assists people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In the media

Some of the Menzies Scholars are regulars in the media:

  • US-based Harvard Menzies Scholar (1997-98), economist and public policy expert, Justin Wolfers, is never far from the media, but his recent visit to Australia has given Australian audiences an opportunity to tap into his insights. We particularly like this piece in the Sydney Morning Herald about how economic decision making is integral to how he lives his life.

  • Matthew Tyler, currently at Harvard studying a Masters in Public Policy at the John F Kennedy School of Government, has been quite prolific in the media. To mark the release of the 2016 Closing the Gap statement, he and a fellow-student from the UK, provided their thoughts in an opinion piece in The Age.

  • Having built a strong body of research on various aspects of online gambling, Dr Sally Gainsbury tends to be the first point of call for media wanting to talk about gambling issues. She spoke to 720 ABC Perth about the ways online gambling companies are targeting young male gamblers.

  • 1995 Menzies Law Scholar, Renee Leon, was named as one of the country’s key policy shapers, in her role as Secretary of the Department of Employment.

  • AHistory Challenge Angus Murraynd a potential future scholar – well certainly a history buff – 14-year-old Queenslander, Angus Murray (pictured with Menzies Foundation CEO, Sarah Hardy), had his moment of fame late last year, when he took out the National History Challenge prize in the special category on Sir Robert Menzies, sponsored by the Menzies Foundation.

2016 Menzies Scholarship dates

If you know anyone who would benefit from a Menzies Scholarship and has the kind of academic and leadership potential the Foundation looks for in its scholars, please let them know when our scholarships will be offered this year.

We will communicate each opening and closing date throughout the year, but here is an early indication of the timing for each Menzies scholarship and you can also visit our website for more details. 

Menzies Research Scholarship in the Allied Health Sciences

  • Opens: 1 May
  • Closes: 30 June

Menzies Scholarship in Engineering

  • Opens: 1 June
  • Closes: 31 July

Menzies Scholarship in Law and Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholarship in International Law

  • Open: 1 July
  • Close: 31 August

Back to school support for families

kids on roadThe Menzies Foundation has provided some additional financial support to families in the Wimmera region of Victoria by partnering with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) to fund back to school vouchers.

The Back to School program run by FRRR addresses inequality and enables students to feel part of the school community. The program has been running nationally since 2005 and is based on a belief that quality education should be accessible no matter where you live.

This is the first year the Menzies Foundation has been involved with a contribution of $5000 to be distributed to Wimmera families.

The Menzies Foundation provides a range of support for students in the Wimmera region as part of our efforts to perpetuate Sir Robert Menzies' beliefs about the impact of education on the wellbeing of all Australians. 

First Fielding Menzies Tertiary Scholars head to Ormond College

Natasha Kennedy-Read from Stawell and Ethan Koschitzke from Warracknabeal have been awarded the Fielding Menzies Tertiary Scholarship.

In 2016 the scholarships provide students from the Wimmera (in north-west country Victoria) the chance to study at the University of Melbourne with full board at Ormond College for the duration of their degree.

The two scholarships, created in partnership between the Fielding Foundation, the Menzies Foundation and Ormond College, were offered to year 12 students from schools in the Wimmera region and awarded based on academic achievement, contribution to the community and financial need.

The Fielding Foundation is a Private Ancillary Fund and we would  like to acknowledge the generosity of Peter Fielding and his family who provide funds for these scholarships.

New Zealand takes the PM's XI trophy

John Stocker and PM XI ManukaDid you know that the man who created Australia’s first decimal coins also created the Menzies Memorial trophy and Menzies medallion awarded to the man of the match in Prime Minister's XI fixtures?

Stuart Devlin featured in this story in The Age recently to commemorate the 50th anniversary of decimal currency in Australia.

Meanwhile, the Menzies Memorial trophy and Menzies medallion were presented to the New Zealand team, who kicked off the summer with a win over Australia at Manuka Oval in Canberra, in the game that was created by Sir Robert Menzies in 1951.

Menzies institutes' wrap

The Menzies Foundation provides an annual untied grant to the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, The Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania and the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University.  

Their research is fascinating and has a wide-ranging impact given their respective focus areas of Indigenous and tropical health, population health and allied health. Here is a snapshot of some recent developments:

  • The Menzies Health Institute Queensland (MenziesHIQ) is working on some technology to revolutionise the treatment and rehabilitation of muscle and tendon issues.

    MenziesHIQ Scientist, Dr Fiona Kate Barlow, has been awarded a Future Fellowship with the ARC to conduct research into combatting racism within a multicultural society. 

  • Congratulations to Professor Alison Venn who was recently appointed Director of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research. In a fantastic story, demonstrating the commitment of their researchers to young women in science, the Menzies team has been mentoring a 16-year-old student using chemicals from the skin of tree frogs to treat Alzheimer’s.

    Researchers at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research have also recently identified a second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian Devils. 

  • Mental illnesses are among the fastest growing health problems nationwide and Indigenous Australians are at high risk.

    Menzies' researchers at the Menzies School of Health Research are seeking to prevent mental illness by identifying the tools and methods people and communities need to stay socially, spiritually, emotionally and mentally strong.

Thank you

Thank you for reading the first Menzies Foundation newsletter. If you know anyone who should be on the mailing list, please encourage them to subscribe via the Menzies Foundation website.

The Menzies Foundation’s vision is to inspire and nurture Australia’s future leaders. If you would like to support us in that vision please consider donating online, via EFT, cheque or contact us.