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The Menzies Brief - Vol 20, No. 3, 2017

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This is the latest edition of the Menzies Brief - Vol 20, No. 3, 2017. 

Menzies Brief September 2017

From the President

Dr Adrian McCallumCongratulations to Anne-Marie Hill who has been voted in by the alumni as the next Deputy Chair of the Alumni Advisory Group and ex-officio member of the Menzies Board.

Menzies Research Scholar in the Allied Health Sciences, Anne-Marie is an Associate Professor and full time research academic in the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science at Curtin University in Perth. Her research interests are in healthy ageing and health for older people. She was awarded an NHMRC early career fellowship (2012-2015) after completing her PhD in 2011.

Anne-Marie has been an active member of the Alumni Advisory Group since its inception early last year and her values-based pitch to her peers clearly hit a chord. 

Anne-Marie Hill

As part of what she will bring to the Deputy Chair role, Anne-Marie said “The Scholars have experience of vision and leadership in their own lives and I believe we can provide valuable input to the board as it seeks to support Australia’s emerging leaders.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Thank you for taking the time to cast your vote and a big thank you to Kate Peterson, who ran a very close second. It was very heartening to have two such high-quality candidates in a very competitive process.

Anne-Marie and Sheree Hurn (your next President/Chair) will make a great team when I hand over the baton shortly.

Anne-Marie, Sheree and I will be part of the Alumni Roadshow sessions, which have been organised in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth for the near future. Over 60 of us will have a fantastic opportunity to connect with our local Menzies’ colleagues. If you didn’t respond to the initial invitation but still want to come along, please contact Kate Nolan as soon as possible; the dates are below.

One of the benefits of connecting will be to hear a couple of brief updates about the MMSA and the Foundation’s work – Sarah also has a message below about progress. The main purpose however, will be to get to know each other better and strengthen networks across the alumni.

The role of the Alumni Advisory Group is to create opportunities for connection and engagement and to develop initiatives to support the Foundation. It’s a great time to be involved and we will be calling for nominations a little later in the year.

Dr Adrian McCallum    
President, Menzies Memorial Scholars’ Association                                  

From the CEO

Sarah Hardy CEOI thought it might be good to give you all a brief update on progress with the Foundation’s new areas of work and to thank you for your input so far.

You will read later in this edition of the Brief, a Scholar Spotlight story by one of the early Harvard Menzies Scholars, Glenn Withers, who is a Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University and UNSW and was founding CEO of Universities Australia.

Glenn observed that one of the reasons Sir Robert Menzies was such a strong leader was due to his ability to balance ‘continuity and change’ through his time as our longest-serving prime minister.

This is certainly where we find ourselves at the moment as we go through the invigorating journey of moving the Menzies Foundation into a new phase of its life. 

Over the last few months my focus and that of the Board has been on wide-ranging national consultation with experts in the science, research, entrepreneurship and education fields to gather intelligence to inform our decision making. We’ve also held a couple of focus groups with teachers. This part of the process of change has been enormously interesting and informative as I gained more insight into critical and emerging issues for Australia today.

I want to thank those I have met with, along with those who responded to the earlier questionnaires on the law and entrepreneurial opportunities.

As always, several of you have contributed your expertise and I note particularly members of our law alumni, who attended a workshop and provided some outstanding feedback in starting to review our international law scholarship. The review will broaden the parameters of the current prospectus and make sure it will meet the future needs of the law profession in Australia as we deal with complex global issues, while continuing to attract an outstanding calibre of applicants. Given the scholarship carries his name, a greater focus on the legacy of Sir Ninian Stephen - a former chairman of the Foundation - will also be incorporated into the prospectus.

The work continues with the aim of taking business cases for the three areas of work to the Board in November. Thank you for your continued interest and involvement.

Sarah Hardy
CEO Menzies Foundation

Alumni Roadshow dates

  • Brisbane, Wednesday 20 September – 6-7.30pm
  • Sydney, Thursday 21 September – 6-7.30pm
  • Melbourne, Tuesday 26 September – 6-7.30pm
  • Perth, Tuesday 3 October - 6-7.30pm

Save the date – celebrating 40 years of the Menzies Foundation

To start our celebrations of 40 years of the Menzies Foundation, we will be holding an event at the Melbourne Museum on Wednesday 21 March 2018.

Our celebrations will run throughout the year, but this will be the major event. Please mark it in your diaries and details of cost and bookings will be out later in the year. 

Menzies Scholars achieve amazing things

Justice Andrew BeechThe Hon Justice Andrew Beech SC (1986 Menzies Law Scholar) has been appointed as a judge of the West Australian Court of Appeal by West Australian Attorney General, the Hon John Quigley, LLB JP MLA.

A grant from Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer Foundation, will enable 2008 NHMRC/Menzies Fellow, Dr Misty Jenkins, to study how retraining the body’s own immune system could be the key to new treatment for children with brain cancer.

At a very interesting time in the organisation’s history, 2004 Harvard Menzies Scholar, banker and former Olympic diver, Michael Murphy has been elected to the Executive Board of the Australian Olympic Committee.

Menzies Indigenous Mentoring Fellow Michelle Kerrin, Michelle Kerrin, has been taking her messages on pride in culture and heritage from private girls’ schools in Melbourne to the National American and Indigenous Studies Association conference 2017 in Canada. 

2016 Menzies Engineering Scholar, Liz Killen, worked on an  Aussie-themed Pint of Science event at a secret underground pub at the Australian High Commission in London, sharing the best of Australian science over a beer and a party pie.

2011 Menzies Allied Health Research Scholar, Dr Matthew Pase, is leading research at Swinburne University of Technology showing that sleeping disorders appear to be associated with an increased risk of dementia.

2014 NHMRC/Menzies Fellow in Medicine, Dr Si Ming Man, has been presented the Jim Pittard Early Career Award from the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM) for his growing body of research work.

Your new profile on our website

A huge amount of work has gone into updating the scholar profiles on the Menzies Foundation website so that we can get a better idea of what members of our alumni are doing now. It’s a very useful way to find people in our network who are working on things which may be complementary to your work.

You will see two profiles; one at a point in time when you were awarded your scholarship or fellowship, and then we’ve utilised publicly available content, mainly from your linkedIn profile or company website, for a current profile. If you want to add or change content or update your photo (you may well want to do that!), please email Kate with the new details (with a maximum of 200 words).

In the media

The Menzies Scholars are frequently cited, called for their expert opinions, or asked to write for the media. Here is just a sample of recent highlights:

  • 2012 Menzies Engineering Scholar, Dev Tayal, wrote a piece on how the total solar eclipse in the US provided a lesson in how to manage electricity grids when a crucial generation source is offline.  
  • According to The Mandarin, 1990 Harvard Menzies Scholar, Michael Hiscox, has returned to Harvard after having set up the Prime Minister’s ‘nudge unit’. Michael is the Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government at Harvard and also the Co-Director of the Sustainability, Transparency, Accountability Research (STAR) Lab.
  • 2008 Harvard Menzies Scholar and recent recipient of a Westpac Scholarship, Dr Maja Cassidy, is part of a research team figuring out how to use the hashtag at nanoscale to help manipulate a particular type of quasiparticle into quantum bits.
  • The Sunday Times in Sydney quoted 2015 Menzies Allied Health Research Scholar, Dr Sally Gainsbury saying the prevalence of slot machines, along with the ability to bet fast and continuously, made them more likely to lead to gambling problems.
  • Julian SavulescuRenowned medical ethicist, Professor Julian Savulescu, has been inspiring the next generation, as a 16 year old Dunedin girl has become the first high school student to have a paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Her interest in gene modification was sparked by a chat with the 1994 Menzies Scholar in Medicine.
  • The media also sought the views of Professor Savulescu in the controversial case of 11 month old baby, Charlie Gard in London.
  • And possibly the busiest Menzies Scholar in Australia right now, the Solicitor General, Dr Stephen Donoghue QC, has found himself featuring in the media on a range of topics from ministerial comments on the judiciary to the ministerial citizenship issues currently before the High Court. 

Menzies Scholar Spotlight

Glenn Withers, 1970 Harvard Menzies Scholar

Glenn WhithersGlenn Withers is a Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Crawford School at the Australian National University and University of New South Wales and was founding CEO of Universities Australia. He was awarded his RG Menzies Scholarship to complete a PhD in Business Economics within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, well before the Menzies Foundation was even contemplated. His extensive career achievements include helping to establish the Productivity Commission, the Crawford School, ANZSOG and Universities Australia. For full details of his wide-ranging influence, you can take a look at his bio here.

As part of his ‘Spotlight’, Glenn has shared with us some thoughts on Sir Robert, gleaned from meetings they had when he was a young Harvard Menzies scholar.

What is your job?
One of the most appealing aspects of being an academic is that the job can continue as long as your mind so chooses. Having retired as founding CEO of Universities Australia, I am now enjoying being an itinerant honorary professor at ANU, UNSW and also Tongji University in Shanghai.

What are the biggest challenges in your career right now?
The biggest challenge is finding the time to engage all the interesting challenges. A further honorary job currently is President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and another is Chair of the Global Development Learning Network of the World Bank. Both could consume an infinity of time, such are the challenges and the rewards from engaging them. Both provide splendid opportunities to advance the role of knowledge in human affairs.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?
Choosing to work on what interests me is very fulfilling. This includes developing structured understanding of challenges and contributing to improvement through that understanding. For me, this has facilitated not only work in academe, including with a pride of vice-chancellors, but time working to prime ministers, captains of industry and labour and community bodies, and interrogating how they operate with what effect. Understanding this is very fulfilling. 

One conclusion I have reached is the importance of institutions in advancing progress. I have derived great satisfaction from being involved in such efforts as establishing the Productivity Commission, the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, and Universities Australia – all vehicles for knowledge transmission. Overseas I have even helped establish the Royal University of Bhutan (and likewise built a Human Resource Development Masterplan for Malaysia). It is good to escape from Australia sometimes.

Who has influenced your career? How?
My economics teacher (later Principal) at Melbourne Boys High, Neville Drohan, put me on to the road of economics. I will never forgive him! But perhaps I will really because that road gained me a Menzies Scholarship that took me to Harvard Economics. From that base I was given free rein in broadening out through taking courses in the Business School, Law School, Kennedy School and the Graduate School of Arts and Science, as well as ending up teaching there. It was an intellectual feast and as a result I have been an omnivorous academic working also in business, government and the community.

Even while studying for the PhD I worked from a distance with the Working Women’s Centre of the ACTU to help develop the case for the equal pay decisions of that era, proving equal pay would not cost jobs. We were proven right. 

What is the book that has influenced you the most?
Probably two books actually: J K Galbraith’s The Affluent Society and John Rawls’ Theory of Justice. I tutored for Galbraith at Harvard and attended Rawls’ classes. Their ideas took me beyond the technical core of my economics into questions of society and justice. Between them they encouraged a book I wrote on Conscription that was an effort at a multi-disciplinary analysis: history, economics, political science, and ethics.

The book was published in 1972 in Australia and sold like wild-fire for six months before Gough Whitlam was elected and abolished conscription as his first act of government. The book was then remaindered. However this intellectual journey also took me to advising the Australian Government on the implementation of this decision and the US Government on ending the draft, hence it was a great introduction to engagement.

Likewise Galbraith also took me to the world of economics and the arts, the theme of one of his courses. I ended up writing a book with David Throsby on this - and it lead to many a rewarding arts engagement as chair of arts companies and festivals. From there broadcasting analysis was a small step, and this led to working with fascinating individuals such as Dr Nugget Coombs, Kerry Stokes and Brian Johns of the ABC.

Name one thing about Sir Robert Menzies every Australian should know?
When I was awarded one of the early Harvard Menzies Scholarships, one treat as a Melburnian was getting to meet and know Sir Robert himself. We had private one-on-one meetings in his office in the city and he expanded on his views. One important insight was that Menzies was much more than the Anglophone conservative he is often depicted to be. For instance, he was inordinately proud of his role in the enhancement of Australia’s relations with Asia, such as the Colombo Plan. Discussions with him on this theme led me to a lifelong interest in immigration, and the great satisfaction that comes from my later helping to develop the modern Australian immigration system (the “points system”).

Incidentally, Menzies also was immensely proud of his support for the ANU in Canberra, an achievement that I can with the benefit of hindsight personally endorse as very worthy indeed. 

Glenn Whithers and Paul Keating l

How do you describe leadership?
Leadership is the ability to take people with you in pursuit of a vision. It is a more far-sighted capability than management, which co-ordinates well the existing ways to make things work or even improve incrementally, and it is streets ahead of administration which implements the tasks given by management. If anything, its closest analogue is entrepreneurship, which breaks new ground but, sometimes, comes up short on delivery.

Who is the best leader you know?
Sir Robert Menzies comes pretty close through his ability to balance ‘continuity and change’ for sixteen years continuously as Australian Prime Minister in the post-war era.  Equally, having closely observed Bob Hawke and Paul Keating during the years of micro-economic reform I can be quite bi-partisan in admiring leadership where it does occur. The Hawke adoption of consensus politics and Keating’s provision of a “big picture” for the future, combined to transform modern Australia’s capacity for progress. 

Menzies was a University of Melbourne graduate. Hawke was an Oxford Rhodes Scholar. Keating did not attend university. Just imagine what more could have been achieved if Paul Keating could have been a Menzies Scholar.

Young leaders addressing mental health

Satellite Young Leader WorkshopThe Satellite Foundation's Menzies Young Leader program is in full swing!

Eight amazing young people from various parts of Victoria are participating in a series of workshops, sharing experiences of living in a family where a parent or sibling has mental health issues, and how to capture and transform their experiences and wisdom into leadership and advocacy roles. 

In 2016 the Menzies Foundation awarded a small Menzies Alumni Community Leadership grant to the Satellite Foundation to run the Young Leader program after Satellite was nominated by 2004 Menzies Research Scholar in the Allied Health Sciences, Dr Kerry Proctor. Read more.

Menzies Institutes’ wrap

Congratulations to Menzies School of Health Research, which was part of a team taking out the 2017 Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research last week. The award was for the Scabies Research Team (including the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; the Kirby Institute; St Vincent's Hospital Sydney and Menzies), which conducted trials to show the effectiveness of ivermectin in controlling scabies.

Menzies Health Institute Queensland researchers have been studying the effectiveness of targeted programs for people suffering with dementia, delivered in their own homes, which may help with understanding the needs and attitudes of those in the early stages of the disease. The aim is to improve the uptake of community services leading to greater wellbeing.

The only nationally funded paired fellowship in multiple sclerosis (MS) research has just been awarded to the Menzies Institute of Medical Research in Tasmania, bringing laboratory and clinical researchers together to speed up the translation of MS research into clinical practice. This is great recognition of the 20 years of MS research at Menzies; a key focus area for the Institute.  

Vale Robert White AO

One of the founding Directors of the original Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Trust, Robert White AO, has passed away peacefully aged 93.

Bob White, as he was better known, was also the Deputy Chair of the Menzies Foundation when Sir Ninian Stephen was Chair in the late 90s.

Mr White was the honorary Treasurer for the Trust and the National Appeal Committee, which ran the initial public fundraising campaign to fund and establish the Menzies Foundation.

Robert White AO on right

Bob was known to many of our early scholars and will be greatly missed. He is pictured with Peter Henderson, Heather Henderson and his wife, Jan, at the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Foundation.