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The Menzies Brief - Vol 19, No. 4, 2016

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  Hello Visitor,

This is the latest edition of the Menzies Brief - Vol 19, No. 4, 2016

August 2016

President’s Report

Community grants open and time to select our next Secretary

Dr Josie Barbaro

One of the great things the Alumni Advisory Group has been working on is the Menzies Alumni Community Leadership Grants, which will open later this week for you to apply.

There are up to 5 grants per year (four valued at up to $5000 and one at up to $10,000), which enable us to demonstrate our community leadership in addition to our academic and professional leadership. The funding goes to an organisation with whom you have an existing relationship. This is a wonderful initiative by the Foundation and the Menzies Memorial Scholars’ Association (MMSA), which has been very happy to provide some funds for the grants.

Details are available on the Menzies Foundation website. I’d encourage you all to apply. You will be sent an email inviting you to apply once the application form is online. 

Terms of Reference for the Alumni Advisory Group have also been finalised and are on the website.

It has come to the time of year when we start the selection process for the 2017 Secretary of the MMSA; a role which takes on the responsibilities of a Director on the Menzies Foundation Board and goes on to become MMSA President.

As we indicated in the December edition of The Brief, it seems a logical process to give the members of the Advisory Group, who have been working together for almost a year now, the first option to nominate for the role.

Dr Adrian McCallum, who has been Secretary for this year, will step into the role as President for 2017 when I come to the end of my term in November.

It was excellent to see such a strong response in the scholar survey earlier in the year and down below you will read a bit more about what some of the themes were and how we might respond to them.

Dr Josie Barbaro
President, Menzies Memorial Scholars Association.

Apply for Menzies Alumni Community Grants

As part of the criteria for a potential Menzies Scholar to be awarded their scholarship, not only do they need to demonstrate qualities Menzies held in high esteem such as leadership and academic excellence, but also an interest and experience in the service of others.

The Foundation has been working with the Alumni Advisory Group to develop the Menzies Alumni Community Leadership Grants, which will enable you to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to a community organisation of your choice, with financial support as part of that commitment.

The grants will not only identify and foster the leadership qualities of our Alumni, but also support Australian community organisations which demonstrate a passion and vision for leadership, through the delivery of their community-based initiatives.

There are up to five grants available each year: four grants of up to $5,000 (ex GST) and one grant of up to $10,000 (ex GST). You can apply via a simple online process. Click here to read the criteria and other details. The grants will open for applications later this week. Applications close on Thursday 29 September.

Understanding cultural differences in the experience of chronic pain

Bernadette Brady

A physiotherapist who is studying the cultural differences in pain awareness, management and patient interactions, has been awarded the 2017 Sir Robert Menzies Research Scholarship in the Allied Health Sciences.

The first Western Sydney University student to be awarded a Menzies Scholarship, Bernadette Brady, will complete her PhD on the project “The inequities of chronic pain – responding with culturally responsive physiotherapy”.

Bernadette, who works in the pain clinic at Liverpool Hospital in Sydney, says despite more than half of the Australian population being born overseas or having one parent born overseas, no published randomised controlled trial into interventions for chronic pain management (our second highest health care expense) has included culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) participants.

Her study is set to change all that.

Read more.

World first longitudinal study to help children with joint hypermobility

Verity PaceyChildren and adolescents with joint hypermobility will benefit from the 2016 Menzies Foundation Allied Health Grant of $25,000, which has been awarded to 2012 Menzies Research Scholar in the Allied Health Sciences, Dr Verity Pacey.

The project called ‘Clinical characteristics of children with generalised joint hypermobility: a 5 year longitudinal cohort study’, aims to identify the signs and symptoms of children and adolescents most likely to worsen in terms of pain, fatigue and quality of life over a 5-year period.

This is the first and only prospective longitudinal cohort study of children and adolescents with symptomatic joint hypermobility to be undertaken in the world. Generalised joint hypermobility is present in about 10 per cent of the population, with 30 per cent becoming symptomatic. It is more prevalent in females than males.

Verity, a physiotherapy PhD from the University of Sydney and Lecturer at Macquarie University, says the findings of her study will enable treating clinicians to identify individuals at risk of rapid decline at an initial assessment, and prioritise therapy accordingly.

Read more.

Menzies Scholars achieve amazing things

Here are a few recent highlights from the Menzies alumni, showing their leadership in different ways:

  • Mike Murphy and family3Life after the Olympics: two-time Australian Olympic diver and 2004 Harvard Menzies Scholar, Mike Murphy, told us about gaining perspective on life after sport and the roles he plays now as Principal of Bain Capital, Chair of Diving Australia, husband and father.

It’s been a very big few months for our Medicine Fellows:

  • 2006 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow, Dr Nick Huntington, and his team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research were finalists for the Eureka Prizes for Scientific Research for their work in targeting Innate Lymphoid Cells for immunotherapy and protection against infections.
  • Matthew Kiernan4Australian Football Legend, Neale Daniher, has put Motor Neurone Disease even more firmly on the research agenda as he runs a powerful campaign called FreezeMND to raise research funds to find a cure. 1998 NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellow, Professor Matthew Kiernan, is one of the leaders in the research effort and also appeared in a story on the Sunday Night program about Neale’s battle with the disease.
  • In addition to his research into cytomegalovirus (CMV), 1991 Menzies Medicine Scholar, Professor Bill Rawlinson, has been playing a strong part in the #StopCMV campaign to raise awareness of the little-known but widely prevalent disease. CMV is the most common viral and infectious cause of congenital disability in Australia, present in about 2000 newborns every year.
  • 2012 Menzies Scholar in Engineering, Brittany Coff, is applying her skills and expertise in sustainable development to global water challenges.
  • And coming at it from different professions and different perspectives, 2009 Menzies Scholar in Engineering, Dr Alisa Semilovic, and 2013 Menzies Scholar in Law, Eleanor Mitchell, talk about the pressure and challenges of studying at Oxford as they start to see the benefits of their experience, both personally and professionally.
  • 2015-16 Harvard Menzies Scholar, Matthew Tyler, continues his strong advocacy on social issues, with a thought-provoking piece on different methods of tackling homelessness.

Menzies Scholar Spotlight - The Hon Justice Susan Kenny

1985 Menzies Scholar in Law

The Hon Justice Susan Kenny

Justice Sue Kenny is the 1985 Menzies Scholar in Law. She is a judge of the Federal Court of Australia and also a member of the scholarship selection committee for the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarship in Law and the Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholarship in International Law. This Spotlight is based on an interview with Justice Kenny.

What is your job?

I am a judge of the Federal Court of Australia.  I was appointed to the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria, in 1997 and have been on the Federal Court of Australia since October 1998.  As a judge of the Federal Court, I hear and determine cases arising under federal law, on appeal and at first instance.  Although I am based in Melbourne, I hear cases all over Australia, particularly appeals in all capital cities.

I am a Presidential Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and, from time to time, its Acting President under s 10(1) of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1976 (Cth). I am also involved in a range of bodies, which are largely focused on the development of the law, court administration and legal education, such as the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration and the Asian Law Centre at the University of Melbourne.  I am also a Fellow of St Hilda's College, University of Melbourne, and a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.  I am a former long-term part-time commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission and former long-term member of the Australian National University's Centre for International and Public Law.

I remain involved in legal education and the development of the law, which I consider important for the administration of the law and for society generally. As a lawyer, I have always been particularly interested in administrative and constitutional law. Government has to be able to govern but it’s all too easy to forget the interests of individuals. This part of the law governs what the State can and cannot do and protects people against abuse of power. I consider this the most important expression of the rule of law.

How would you like to see the law change?

Change is inevitable in the world around us.  Change in the law should reflect the way our society evolves, whether in commerce, science or technology, culture or some other field of human endeavor.  Sometimes the most desirable legal change is gradual and incremental and, at other times, more dramatic. The roles of the legislature and the courts are often discussed, but this is a large topic, for another day.  

I think it is important in changing the law to have some sense of intergenerational equity – to ensure the law is adequate to preserve resources for future generations and provide a basis for them to build an optimistic future. I think this consideration is relevant to the way the law should be framed with respect to vulnerable people, such as refugees, the young and the very old; the environment; education; and indeed almost every aspect of human endeavor.  

Whether or not change in the law is to be supported always depends on the nature of the community we want to maintain, improve and foster. 

Who influences (has influenced) your career? How?

Sir Ninian Stephen (for whom I was an Associate during his time on the High Court) has certainly influenced some of my most important choices.  He’s a tremendous figure professionally and personally.

Sir Ninian inspired me to accept judicial appointment.  His example gave me the confidence to take up the judicial role and, with respect to being a judge, to value my family, particularly my husband, Ross, as well as my three sons (Kamtorn, Panat and Anthony Tanuphat) as my greatest blessing, not only in my personal life but also in my public life. 

There are, of course, many other people, too numerous to mention, who have influenced my career, beginning with my parents and teachers and including my close friends and other lawyers.

Who has provided you with inspiration (career or personal) and why?

My family is my greatest inspiration.  I was born into a loving family, where education was highly valued and I was encouraged to do my best.  I have always had the support of my husband, both personally and professionally.  This is reflected in the fact that he and I became parents to three sons during the first decade of my judicial life.  This was possible because there was then a very active inter-country adoption program between Australia and Thailand.  There is no doubt that I have been profoundly influenced by my family, including my three Thai-born sons.  I have, naturally, a deep affection for the people of Thailand. 

I am influenced by some excellent teachers at school, at the University of Melbourne, and at Oxford where I had the great good fortune to be supervised by Professor John Finnis.  He had an enormous effect on the way I write and think.   

I was helped greatly by senior lawyers, both as an articled clerk and later at the Bar.  Their assistance was often well above and beyond the call of duty.  I was also greatly influenced by the experienced judges I worked alongside in my early judicial life, both on the Court of Appeal and in the Federal Court. 

As I have said, Sir Ninian's example has been influential.  I admired the way he kept an open mind on lots of issues, embraced diversity amongst people and modelled an internationalist approach.  As a judge, I have often recalled his courtesy in court even when things were pretty stretched.

How has the Menzies Scholarship helped you?

I wouldn’t have gone to Oxford without the scholarship. If I hadn’t gone to Oxford I wouldn’t have developed into the person I am today. It was an absolutely seminal experience. As I have said, I was supervised by Professor Finnis, who was not only a notable constitutional law scholar and legal philosopher, but also a thoughtful, committed and remarkable teacher. There is no doubt that he greatly contributed to the way I write and reason as a judge.

Through the scholarship I was given tremendous opportunities to meet many remarkable people.  I also had the benefit of getting to know the other Menzies scholars of my years.  They were a diverse group of people – lawyers and medical scientists who form the basis of the Alumni today.  Just as importantly, the scholarship gave me an opportunity to meet British students and their friends, as well as other international students. Some have remained life-long friends.  Unsurprisingly, I have learned, and continue to learn, from them all.

What are your passions outside of work?

My husband and my three boys now 22, 18 and 15 are my first passion.  I maintain a particular interest in all things Thai, including Thai constitutional law.  This interest has enlarged over time to embrace public law and the courts across the South-east Asia and the Pacific and finds current expression in my involvement with the Asian Law Centre at the University of Melbourne and in my role as convener of the Federal Court's International Development and Cooperation Committee.  For a number of years, under the auspices of the Australian Catholic University, I co-taught the subject ‘International Human Rights Law and Practice’ to refugees living in a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar Border who were studying for a Diploma of Liberal Studies.  Apart from this, my life revolves around my broader family, including my parents, and friends.  I love gardens, although my husband is the gardener and I just pull out the weeds.

Name one thing about Sir Robert Menzies every Australian should know?

Sir Robert Menzies' support for higher education in Australia reformed Australian universities.  We continue to benefit from this legacy. 

How do you describe leadership?

Sometimes I think we place too much emphasis on leadership per se.  Leaders come in many forms.  I think the best leaders are those who inspire others by example, or encourage an organisation to take a new and better path. Leadership isn’t necessarily about exercising power and being at the top. Rather, it’s about creating an atmosphere which carries other people with you, hopefully to improve some aspect of life.

Who do you see as leaders?

I would not name individuals. I immediately think of a medically-qualified young husband and wife team who work with mothers and babies in rural southern Africa. They have developed a medical centre out of nothing and turned it into an influential institution that has dramatically improved the life expectancy of mothers and their babies, particularly by changing people's attitudes to pregnant women.  I think they’re tremendous leaders.

Menzies Institute wrap

Prof Suzanne Chambers appointed Director Menzies HIQ 

Suzanne ChambersProfessor Suzanne Chambers has accepted the position as the Director, Menzies Health Institute Queensland (Menzies HIQ). Professor Chambers was the Inaugural Menzies Foundation Professor of Allied Health Research at Menzies HIQ.  

Professor Chambers has a background in nursing and psychology. She is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Griffith and a leader, nationally and internationally, in psycho-oncology research. She was the winner of the 2013 William Rudder Fellowship by the Cancer Council of Queensland and won a Clinical Research Award in the Australian Society for Medical Research (QLD) Health and Medical Research Awards. Since 2002, Professor Chambers has received a total of $26.5 million in grant funding. 

Professor Sheena Reilly, who was the Inaugural Director of Menzies HIQ, will take on the role as Pro Vice Chancellor Health also at Griffith University.

No child left behind

The Menzies Institute of Medical Research is working with partners to ensure no child gets left behind. MIMR researchers will track the progress of 12,000 children from birth to age five to identify what services are valuable to families to support the health and wellbeing, education and care of their children. Read more about this important partnership to ensure every Tasmanian gets the best start in life.

Investment to treat ear disease

The Menzies School of Health Research took advantage of Hearing Awareness Week to call for more investment in the prevention and treatment of ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. 

Neonatal TSH levels linked with developmental outcomes

Menzies Centre for Health Policy researchers Dr Samantha Lain, Jason Bentley and Associate Professor Natasha Nassar have published world-first research in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. Using a population-based record linkage, the study investigated clinical uncertainty about infants with thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations less than the newborn screening cutoffs. Records of all infants undergoing newborn screening from 1994-2008 in NSW were linked to records of assessments of childhood development or school performance. The study found an association between neonatal TSH concentrations lower than the present thresholds and poor educational and developmental outcomes. 

Survey feedback

Thank you once again to the 43 per cent of scholars who responded to our 2016 scholar survey – your input has been really helpful. Some of it is useful as baseline information which can be tracked over time. The rest gives us some fuel to get a few more things moving.

It was quite a representative sample across age groups and across scholarship types.

Here’s just a bit of an overview of the key findings and our plans in response:

  • Over 80 per cent of respondents are satisfied with their relationship with the Menzies Foundation.
  • There was some lack of clarity around the purpose of the MMSA, particularly in our most recent cohort of scholars. The Alumni Advisory Group is considering how to respond to this finding.
  • The Menzies Brief is clearly the channel most often used by our alumni to get information about the Menzies Foundation (87%).  All respondents said they read it in some way, which is great.
  • You are most keen on the stories about scholar achievements and ‘Spotlights’. These are very popular parts of the publication, but we need your help to deliver them. So talk to us or email through updates about what you have been working on (outside work too if it’s of broad interest) and, particularly if you are one of our earlier scholars, we’d love you to answer some spotlight questions for us! Please contact Kate Nolan if you have any ideas or news to share.
  • Respondents agreed it was overkill having a number of regular columns, so from this edition onwards we’ll have a column from the President only to introduce The Brief.
  • A key dates section for important Menzies events has been included in The Brief.

One of the suggestions to improve The Brief was about scholars preparing opinion pieces on a topic related to their expertise. We have been looking hard at the idea of a scholar blog specifically for this purpose and will pursue that idea further.

On the social media front, LinkedIn is definitely the most preferred platform used by our respondents (58%), clearly in front of Facebook (26%) – the Foundation already has a presence on LinkedIn and has now co-opted the MMSA Facebook page to keep it active with scholar stories.  Get on board and follow the Menzies Foundation Facebook page if you haven’t already:

There was some very clear feedback and themes on events and further engagement activities, which somewhat overlap:

The idea of state-based events for networking was raised, along with the concept of a UK/European gathering of some type**. We have heard your feedback and we will be looking at options. You should see some action on informal gatherings reasonably soon in the cities where our alumni has a strong presence and can assist with organisation.

There is definitely a sense that we have been Melbourne-centric (as we are based in Melbourne). Our annual event in Canberra last year – and moving to Sydney this year – is a conscious effort to share the love around.

A significant number of you were also supportive of getting together for guest speakers or alumni speakers, so we will look at the potential of a combination of formal and informal networking opportunities.

Thank you again to everyone who responded and those who were willing to be contacted should we need more information from you. We will aim to make the survey an annual activity.

**Please note that if you are currently in the UK, our UK Scholars’ dinner at the House of Lords will be coming up in early November and invitations can only go to postal addresses. Please advise Pam or AJ as soon as possible of your latest postal address so we can make sure you are on the invitation list. Even if you think you may be visiting or working in the UK at this time, please let us know.

Key dates


7 September – Menzies Institute of Medical Research 2016 Menzies Debate: The stem cell revolution – more hype than hope?

8 September – Menzies Health Institute Queensland First Anniversary Celebration

12 September – Menzies Engineering Scholarship awarded

14 September – Informal morning tea and networking with Baroness Valerie Amos, Clarendon Terrace

14 September – 2016 Sir Robert Menzies Oration on Higher Education, University of Melbourne

29 September – Menzies Alumni Community Grants applications close


14 OctoberMenzies Law and International Law scholarships awarded


4 November – Menzies UK Scholars’ Dinner (TBC)

17 November – Menzies Foundation Board meeting, Sydney

17 November – Menzies Scholarship awards and MMSA AGM, Pier One, Sydney


1-2 December – Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference (Menzies HIQ is a partner in this conference)

TBC – Menzies Centenary Prize presentation to Andrew King, Dimboola Memorial Secondary College.

Stories galore

Did you know we’ve published 36 stories about Menzies Scholars on our website so far this year and even more on our social media channels? Don’t miss the news. You can follow us now on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.