2018 Annual Report
2018 has been a very productive year for ACOLA. Progressing on several fronts, ACOLA has made landmark achievements internally, where it navigated a major restructure, and also externally, where it gained significant momentum delivering the Horizon Scanning series.
Dr John Beaton, Chair, Board of Directors
ACOLA Secretariat Limited
ACOLA STRATEGIC STATEMENT
The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) provides the platform for collaboration between Australia’s four Learned Academies – Australian Academy of the Humanities, Australian Academy of Science, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.
Through the Learned Academies and with the leading expertise of their fellowships, ACOLA brings more than 2,000 of the nation’s most eminent scientists, researchers, scholars and practitioners together to contribute to its rich source of expert knowledge and to inform national policy about complex multidimensional problems and emerging national needs.
ACOLA’s research spans the disciplines and brings well-balanced expert perspectives from a diversity of fields. With research programs including the Securing Australia’s Future series and more recently the Horizon Scanning series, ACOLA has an established record of research excellence and is a trusted and influential source of expert advice for both government and industry.
As a major milestone for ACOLA, 2018 has seen the ACOLA Council and Secretariat merge to become a new single not-for-profit company, Australian Council of Learned Academies Limited (ACOLA Limited). The new company brings the Presidents of Australia’s four Learned Academies and the ACOLA CEO together as ACOLA Limited’s Board of Directors. This change is the result of a long-running governance review and will allow ACOLA to operate in a more streamlined way with simpler governance and reporting structures. ACOLA will also be able to enjoy the benefits of being a registered charity, endorsed by the Department of Education and Training as an Approved Research Institute and by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductable Gift Recipient.
Beyond its corporate structure, ACOLA’s Horizon Scanning series has gathered significant momentum. The 2018 financial year has brought the launch of the Energy Storage report in November 2017 at Parliament House in Canberra, launch of the Precision Medicine report in February 2018 at Eureka Tower in Melbourne and delivery of the Synthetic Biology report in June 2018.
These studies have been great successes and have allowed ACOLA and the Learned Academies to play an influential and supporting role in the Australian Government’s consideration of complex policy questions. Importantly, both of these studies were completed in less than a year and allowed ACOLA to raise its profile with ministers, relevant government departments, industry leaders, universities, and many leading disciplinary experts from across Australia, New Zealand, and internationally. These interactions emphasise the breadth of perspectives that ACOLA can bring to its studies to inform complex policy decisions. Other Horizon Scanning projects are underway for delivery over the next year, including one on Artificial Intelligence.
As we move towards 2019, special thanks must go the Presidents of the four Learned Academies who come together to form the ACOLA Council. In 2018 these are Professor Glenn Withers (President), Professor Hugh Bradlow, Professor Joy Damousi and Professor John Shine. Acknowledgement and thanks also must go to Professor John Fitzgerald who completed his term as President of the Australian Academy of Humanities at the end of 2017 and was succeeded by Professor Joy Damousi. Professor Glenn Withers will also conclude his Presidency of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia at the end of 2018 and will be succeeded by Professor Jane Hall. Each of the academy Presidents, past and present, are essential in bringing to ACOLA the disciplinary leadership and influence that it needs to provide.
Finally, I’d like to thank my Board colleagues and the ACOLA Secretariat team for their commitment and continued cooperation throughout the year. These are Board members Ms Anna-Maria Arabia, Dr Margaret Hartley and Dr Christina Parolin. Finally, Dr Angus Henderson, Dr Lauren Palmer and Ms Fiona Clothier have performed particularly well as the essential core of the ACOLA team.
Dr John Beaton
Chair, Board of Directors
ACOLA Secretariat Ltd