New fund for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars, 2023 policy priorities, funding opportunities, and more.
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2023 marks the beginning of the Academy’s new Strategic Plan, and our Executive Committee met in mid-February to discuss opportunities and directions for the year ahead. Policy priorities include effective input on the Universities Accord, the review of national science and research priorities, of early childhood education and care (led by Fellow Deborah Brennan), the Employment White Paper and related Measuring what matters review, a new review of research assessment metrics being led by ACOLA with support of our Academy, and our own decadal plan on social science research infrastructure. There are big plans for our new Seriously Social education program that will deliver high-quality curriculum-aligned online social science resources to schools and teachers throughout Australia. This program is overseen by a new Education Committee, chaired by former Academy President Barry McGaw. In the meantime, our Seriously Social Podcast continues to deliver outstanding content to a broad public audience; the latest episode, released exactly 50 after Parliament reduced the Voting Age from 21 to 18 in 1973, features Fellow Lisa Hill making a compelling case for electoral suffrage reform.
As an organisation the Academy looks forward to engaging in the national debate on the upcoming Voice referendum: a variety of panel discussions, talks and other resources drawing on Academy Fellows is available here, and as the wording of the referendum question is resolved, the Executive will continue to focus on the issues. As a Reconciliation Action Plan organisation, we have a particular commitment to helping educate and inform people about the issues as well.

And finally, I’m delighted to announce the opening of applications for research grants under the Wilhelm, Martha, and Otto Rechnitz Memorial Fund. This Fund will support early- and mid-career Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars across the social sciences. Find out more and share among your networks here.

Chris Hatherly, CEO

Save the date

Annual Symposium 2023 
Who is linked in and who is locked out when it comes to digital changes across society? Save the date now for the Academy’s 2023 Annual Symposium 23-24 November to explore this theme and gather with Academy Fellows in Canberra. Sign up to the Events newsletter to learn more

Social Sciences Week 2023 
The social sciences are everywhere and that’s the theme of Social Sciences Week (SSW) 2023 (4-10 September). This year offers a host of school events. Register your event now, learn more or sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date and find ways to participate at the SSW homepage.

PC appoints Fellow

The Productivity Commission (PC) appointed Fellow Deborah Brennan as an Associate Commissioner to assist with its new inquiry into the early childhood education and care system. Find details and terms of reference for the inquiry on the PC’s website and details of the announcement here

Serious about voting age

The politics of a lower voting age is the first episode of the year, with a line-up of great topics in 2023. The first episode features Fellow Lisa Hill discussing the pros and cons of Australians 16 years—or younger—voting. It was released on the 50th anniversary of the Whitlam government’s legislation to enfranchise 18 to 20-year-olds. We are bringing a new audience to the social sciences, one podcast at a time! You can help by listening and sharing the podcast with friends, students and colleagues.

Academy plans for the decade

We are gearing up to produce our first ever Decadal Plan! Led by five major research organisations, this grassroots project will develop a vision and roadmap to build the research infrastructure that social scientists will need over the next ten years. The Social Science Research Infrastructure Decadal Plan will serve as a point of reference to coordinate investments in infrastructure throughout the country, as well as a chance to push boundaries for what our disciplines can achieve in the digital age. Get involved or find out more here.

Calling all Early- and Mid-Career Researchers

The SHAPE Futures EMCR Network, established by and for early- and mid-career researchers in the Humanities and Social Science (SHAPE) disciplines, is calling for Expressions of Interest to join its Executive Committee. Five new and existing roles are available: Deputy Chairperson, Diversity Officer, HDR Representative, Officer for Insecure Employment and an Ordinary Member. Find out more and nominate for the committee here.

New interns

Welcome Nikita Sharma (left) and Josi Tabosa as interns on the Academy’s Social Science Research Infrastructure Decadal Plan. Both are en route to completing a PhD and come highly recommended by our project partners University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research. Learn more about Nikita's work and Josi's work.

Review of Australian universities

A discussion paper by the Australian Universities Accord Panel invites input to reshape and reimagine Australian higher education. This is the largest review of the sector in over a decade and panel chair Mary O’Kane encourages stakeholders to ‘be bold ... think big and think beyond the immediate challenges’. The Academy’s submission will build on our initial contribution to the Terms of Reference. Fellows can comment on priority reform areas, and immediate actions or long-term solutions to strengthen the system by an email to Academy Policy Manager, Andrea Verdich ( by Friday 17 March.

Everywhen: Paul Bourke Award

Laura Rademaker (centre), 2021 Paul Bourke Award winner and co-editor of Everywhen: Australia and the language of deep history joined with co-editors Ann McGrath and Jakelin Troy for a discussion and launch of their book. Fellows John Maynard and Frank Bongiorno did the introductions at Harry Hartog’s ANU, 28 February 2023. 

Fund for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars

The Academy is pleased to announce the Wilhelm, Martha, and Otto Rechnitz Memorial Fund (the Rechnitz Fund). Established in 2022 to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars in the social sciences, and to support knowledge and understanding of the society, languages and cultures of Australian Indigenous peoples. It will make available grants of up to $20,000 for early- or mid-career Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers working in any field of the social sciences. Find out more and share among your networks here.


Fellow Brian Head has been elevated to chair or ‘president’ of UNESCO’s scientific advisory committee for the social sciences, a role focused on strategy, research translation, networks and policy influence. Find his book, Wicked problems in public policy here

And closer to home, Fellow David Peetz was appointed as the Australia Institute’s Laurie Carmichael Distinguished Research Fellow. Welcomed as one of Australia’s ‘most outstanding labour policy experts’, find more details of his appointment here

Social scientists on ARC College of Experts

Among 90 new appointments in 2023 to the prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) College of Experts are four Academy Fellows. Congratulations to Fellows Cathy Coleborne, Bronwyn Fredericks, David Goodman and Gavan McNally who join eight other Academy Fellows on the 270-strong College undertaking final reviews and recommendations on the ARC’s $900 million annual funding programs. Learn more here

Winners: 2023 International grants

Eight researchers have received grants under a partnership between the Australian Academy of the Social Sciences and the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences that reaches back more than 40 years. Four Australian social scientists each receive $AUD7000 while four Chinese scholars will receive ¥35,000 RMB. See details here.

Four teams of social scientists from Australia, France and the Pacific receive a boost towards interdisciplinary research projects on major societal issues, thanks to $20,000 in funding from the Embassy of France in Australia and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Learn more about the winners here.


Apply for Hank Nelson Prize

Awarded for the best PhD submitted on Papua New Guinea (PNG) between 1 April 2022 and

31 March 2024, the Hank Nelson Prize honours the commitment to PNG and academic career of historian, Hank Nelson. The prize is AUD$2000, available internationally for a thesis on any aspect of PNG’s history or society. Find details at the Hank Nelson Memorial Award page or contact Professor Bill Gammage AM. Applications close 30 April 2024.  

UN environmental planning secondment?

The International Science Council is also seeking virtual secondments of experts in foresight methods, tools and practice to be part of a joint project team across the Office of the UNEP Chief Scientist and the ISC Secretariat Seconded experts will work as part of the ISC project team remotely. Apply by 20 March 2023 and click this link for more details.

Chief Scientist Policy Fellowships

Hurry! Applications close 7 March for the Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program. An initiative of the Office of the Chief Scientist the program includes the behavioural sciences and aims to grow the diversity of expertise in the Australian Public Service (APS) workforce.

Find the application and details here

Economic seed grants

Another great opportunity, closing mid-to-late March is Australia’s Economic Accelerator (AEA) program now receiving applications for its second round closing late March. Offered by the Department of Education, grants range from $50k-$500k for proof-of-concept projects on research ideas pursuing a commercial outcome. You can find more details here.

Stein Rokkan prize 2023

Nominations for the Stein Rokkan Prize 2023 are now open. Offered by the International Science Council this annual prize celebrates the legacy of Stein Rokkan, and includes an award of EUR 5,000. Candidates from all social sciences disciplines with a substantial and original contribution to comparative social science research welcome to apply until 30 April

Early and mid-career opportunities

The Australian Academy of the Humanities offers opportunities for early- and mid- career researchers (EMCR) through two prestigious awards: the John Mulvaney Fellowship and the Max Crawford Medal. Electronic applications—including self-nominations—close 5pm AEST Friday 28 April 2023.

Engaged Anthropology Fund
The Australian Anthropological Society is now accepting applications for the Engaged Anthropology Fund. The fund awards up to $5000 for innovative projects that increase the visibility, impact & relevance of anthropology for the general public. See the application guidelines for more information.

Read, Watch, Listen, Attend

New and recent releases from Academy Fellows include Rosalind Dixon’s Responsive judicial review: Democracy and dysfunction in the modern age, Alan Petersen’s Emotions online: Feelings and affordances of digital media and two contributions by Peter W. Newton: Greening the greyfields: New models for regenerating the middle suburbs of low-density cities and Migration and Urban Transitions in Australia, also on the Academy website here.

Rated a ‘top science pick’ by Nature, The Invention of tomorrow: A natural history of foresight is co-authored by Fellow Thomas Suddendorf, Jon Redshaw and Adam Bulley.

If you are looking to better understand the complexities behind the Voice to Parliament, the Academy offers several resources including the Panel 6 discussion on democracy and constitutional change from the Academy’s 2022 Annual Symposium. Watch Megan Davis reading The Uluru Statement from the Heart or try our free online symposium session chaired by Fellow Ian Anderson and featuring Fellow John Maynard. These and more resources are available at our Voice Referendum site.

Fellow Lisa Hill and student Maya Farmer talk with host Ginger Gorman about the right of younger people to vote. Inform yourself about the pros and cons with The politics of a lower voting age. Find this episode and all the Seriously Social podcasts here

Are you wondering what to make of ChatGPT and AI generally? Try the New York Times Hard Fork podcast to hear how one teacher makes use of it, in preparation for the 2023 Annual Symposium’s digital theme.


Want to change politics? Or perhaps you think it’s not possible to have a non-partisan approach to raising diversity in Parliament. Maybe both can happen. There’s a program that tries to do both and counts successes across the aisle. Read about it before you apply or simply sign up (or promote the course to your students). Pathways to Politics applications close 6 March.


We acknowledge the recent passing of gifted Fellows Jeremy Beckett, Ann Harding and Tom Nairn.

Jeremy Beckett died in December 2022 and was a highly regarded anthropologist who influenced a generation of researchers and whose work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities, in the Southern Philippines and elsewhere, remains influential. A celebration of his life was held on February 19, available to view online until 19 March 2023. Watch the video here.

Ann Harding who died in early January, was an economist, political analyst, and founder of the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) at the University of Canberra. It became a leading economic and social policy research centre in Australia and an international centre for microsimulation, economic modelling and policy evaluation. Read more.

Described by Scotland’s outgoing First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, as ‘one of the greatest thinkers, political theorists and intellectuals that Scotland has ever produced’, Fellow Tom Nairn died earlier this year. His colleague and friend Neal Ascheron wrote a moving tribute, first published in the London Review of Books, which you can find here

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