This is the latest issue of the Menzies Brief - Vol 17, No. 3, 2014 - in our new format.
I'm sure that those of you who were able to make it to Melbourne for the MMSA's annual get-together on 27 November 2014 would agree that it was a great privilege to be part of what was truly a celebration of all the things that make being a Menzies scholar so special.
To herald a new era for the MMSA, we decided to deviate from the traditional format for the annual get-together, which proved to be a great success, both in terms of the numbers of scholars who attended as well as the feedback that we received during and following the day.
The festivities commenced with lunch with Australia's former Prime Minister, John Howard, who spoke about his recently launched book, "The Menzies Era". Mr Howard's presentation helped to provide important historical context for the strategic planning process which is currently in train at the Foundation. Mr Howard very kindly presented the 2015 scholars with a copy of his book, which no doubt helped to make the day all the more memorable for them.
The MMSA lunch with Mr Howard was followed by the MMSA AGM, where we had the opportunity to discuss progress of the MMSA strategic planning process and present implementation plans for key MMSA initiatives, namely:
Introduction of an MMSA mentoring framework
Establishment of an MMSA website
Development of a "Menzies Legal Sector Alliance for Academic Excellence and Thought Leadership"
In the evening at the cocktail reception, the Governor of Victoria, His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, made an inspiring speech about education and presided over the awards ceremony for the 2015 Menzies Scholars. The ceremony presented us with a great opportunity for the broader Menzies community to meet our impressive new scholars and to wish them all the best for their future studies.
The awards ceremony was followed by a "Scholar Slam", which involved scholars across the various disciplines supported by the Foundation briefly explaining the impact that the Menzies scholarship has had on their lives and careers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our slammers Nick Huntington (NHMRC/RG Menzies Fellowship 2006), Dev Tayal (Engineering 2012), Premala Thiagarajan (Law 2004) and Adrian McCallum (Engineering 2007) for their inspiring presentations, which helped to demonstrate the transformative power of Menzies scholarships to the many people present. Their presentations were a memorable conclusion to the cocktail party and awards ceremony.
An "MMSA-only" dinner took place following the awards ceremony at GG's restaurant in East Melbourne. The dinner provided an excellent opportunity for scholars and their family members to get to know each other better. It was a perfect finale to what was an inspiring and rewarding day.
I would like to conclude by thanking the incredible Foundation staff for their tireless work and support of the MMSA throughout the year. I would also like to acknowledge the MMSA's outgoing Secretary Adrian McCallum for his energy, support and enthusiasm over the past 12 months and, particularly, for his leadership in relation to the MMSA Mentoring Framework. This initiative will be critically important for the MMSA moving forward. Finally, I would like to thank Josephine Barbaro who kindly agreed to nominate for the Secretary's role and has been elected for 2015. I – together with the Menzies Foundation – thank Josie for making this commitment. I very much look forward to working with Josie in 2015.
To those of you who I was able to catch up with in November, it was an absolute pleasure to spend time with you all. To those who were unable to make it, I hope we will have the chance to meet at an MMSA event in the near future. In the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families all the very best for the festive season and for 2015.
Dariel De Sousa President
New MMSA website
Have you visited the Menzies Foundation website recently? If so, you will have noticed that it has been updated. The new "look and feel" has been designed to enhance communication with and between the Foundation's various stakeholders, including members of the MMSA.
The website upgrade includes development of a dedicated section of the website exclusively for the MMSA, which is currently in progress. Access to the MMSA area on the website will be via a personalised login for each member of the MMSA. Details of your login will be emailed to you.
By March 2015, the MMSA-only part of the Foundation's website will host the following information:
Background including MMSA Rules, current MMSA Strategic Plan, current MMSA Implementation Plans, MMSA AGM Minutes
MMSA news including Menzies Brief (current and past editions) and important announcements and press coverage regarding MMSA scholars
MMSA Mentoring Framework including profiles of all scholars who have agreed to be mentors and the MMSA Mentoring Guidelines
Job postings including jobs posted by MMSA scholars that can be sorted by discipline and location as well as user instructions on how to post a job, and how to search for a job
MMSA events including details of the MMSA AGM and annual event and any other events organised by/for MMSA members
The contents of the new website are based on feedback from a range of MMSA members at and following the MMSA's 2013 AGM.
We encourage all MMSA to avail themselves of the opportunities that the new website will present. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments regarding the structure and contents of the new website, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the MMSA Committee.
Menzies Legal Sector Alliance for Academic Excellence and Thought Leadership
One of the key strategic initiatives currently being pursued by the MMSA is the establishment of a "Menzies Legal Sector Alliance for Academic Excellence and Thought Leadership".
As indicated by its name, the Alliance will support and encourage academic excellence and thought leadership in the Australian legal sector. Initially, this will be achieved through a series of regular seminars involving esteemed practitioners and academics on topics of current and future interest and importance to the sector, at which the achievement of Menzies scholars will be showcased. Eventually, the Alliance's activities could be expanded to include activities such as undertaking collaborative legal research, making joint submissions on law reform issues and hosting national or even international legal conferences.
The primary objectives of the Alliance are to:
actively contribute to legal debate on topics of current and future interest;
provide a vehicle for the legal sector to recognise and support academic excellence and thought leadership;
promote the legal sector's commitment to and investment in academic excellence and thought leadership to clients, government and the broader community; and
foster relationships between the main segments of the legal sector.
In order to identify which legal sector participants (such as law firms and barrister chambers) might be interested in becoming a member of the Alliance, we are seeking to identify which participants have the strongest connection with members of the MMSA. To this end, we have asked all Menzies Law Scholars to complete a survey. If you are a Menzies Law Scholar but have not yet had an opportunity to complete the survey, we would be grateful if you could do so as soon as possible at menziesfoundation.org.au/mmsa/legal-sector-alliance.
Depending upon the results of the Menzies Legal Sector Alliance, the MMSA will undertake further analysis to determine whether a similar model could be implemented for other disciplines supported by the Foundation – i.e. engineering, medicine and allied health.
If you have any comments or questions in relation to this initiative, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Outgoing Secretary's report
I'll keep this brief as there's plenty more for you to read at this exciting time of our development.
Unfortunately I've chosen to prematurely step down from the MMSA committee. I grappled with this decision as I tremendously value the privilege of assisting the progression of both the MMSA and the Foundation.
Nevertheless, 'midst career uncertainty for me and blossoming progress for the Association, I think that it was the right thing to do to ensure that the current momentum of evolution continues.
I've been replaced by the equally enthusiastic and probably far more competent Josie Barbaro who will now work with Dariel to ensure bedding-in of current initiatives and collation of future ideas.
It's been a wonderful privilege serving the MMSA and the Foundation and there's plenty going on. May I encourage you all to stay engaged and continue supporting this current period of growth and development.
There are so many new initiatives that we've developed to help not only us but you, so please check-out the new website, seek involvement as a mentor/mentee and most of all, reflect briefly on how you might use your influence as a Menzies Scholar to further lead our nation.
I look forward to meeting more of you in times to come, so please, hang around.
Incoming Secretary's report
Season's greetings everyone! I'd like to introduce myself, I'm Josephine Barbaro and I am the incoming Secretary of the MMSA, following the departure of the wonderfully enthusiastic and respected Adrian McCallum. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Adrian for his incredibly hard work throughout the year helping with the many new endeavours of the MMSA, including assisting with the fresh new-look Menzies Foundation webpage, and introduction of an MMSA Mentoring program. Best of luck Adrian for your future endeavours.
By way of background, I'm a research psychologist at La Trobe University, conducting research on the very early detection of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in infants and toddlers, and running a clinic out of La Trobe specialising in diagnosis of ASD in these young children. The Menzies Foundation scholarship I received in 2006 for my PhD was definitely the catalyst for my future success, with the development of an internationally disseminated tool for the early detection of ASD. For this I am truly indebted to the Foundation and the MMSA, and it is for this reason that I am extremely honoured to become the MMSA's next Secretary and future President. I look forward to working with the wonderful Dariel DeSousa, current President of the MMSA, who is also an enthusiast and hard-working individual. We will both endeavour to provide a strong voice for Menzies scholars and bring us all together to share our wealth of knowledge, and lay the foundations for the future generations of scholars.
I am a firm believer in dissemination of knowledge and knowledge transfer, and will thus be focusing on how we as Menzies scholars can more effectively communicate with each other, share our knowledge, and engage in collaborative activities to further not just our own paths, but that of the Foundation.
I will be contacting scholars over the coming year and asking each of you how you think we can effectively do this. Please also feel free to contact me should you have any ideas. With the end of year approaching, I'd like to wish everyone a very happy holiday period, taking the opportunity to refresh and recharge for the exciting year ahead. I wish everyone the very best and look forward to serving as the MMSA secretary over the coming year.
Menzies Foundation Symposium
The Menzies Foundation Symposium 'Shaping Futures' – December 3rd, 2014
Through generous support of the Menzies Foundation, the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) at La Trobe University was able to host a free public event - the Menzies Foundation Symposium 'Shaping Futures'.
This symposium focused on recent advances in research and practice on early detection, diagnosis, learning, and early intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and featured two internationally renowned keynote speakers – Professor Catherine Lord, founding Director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at Weill Cornell Medical College, Columbia University, and Dr Andy Shih, Senior Vice President of Autism Speaks.
Local presentations included that of Professor Robyn Young from Flinders University, myself, and Dr Giacomo Vivanti from OTARC. As chair and organiser of the symposium, I was extraordinarily pleased with the turn out for this public event, with close to 400 registrations comprising of parents, carers, professionals, and researchers.
The atmosphere on the day was truly electric, and feedback from all sections of the audience was overwhelmingly positive. I wish to thank the Foundation for yet again providing strong support of my research and activities relating to the early autism phenotype, which ultimately helps those families and children affected by ASD.
Josephine Barbaro, Menzies Foundation Scholar 2006.
Menzies Foundation CEO
This has been an exceedingly active year for the development of the MMSA led by Dariel and Adrian. It was such a pleasure to see all the hard work result in a great turnout for the annual events outlined by Dariel in her report. Meeting many more scholars was certainly the highlight of the year for me and I am increasingly able to put name to face! Whilst I wasn't able to speak with all of you, I hope I at least welcomed each and every one of you to the Foundation.
Next year will be full of activity and updates as the MMSA put into action their implementation plans. I do hope there will be an opportunity for you to engage with other Menzies Scholars.
I wish you all the best for the festive season and look forward to meeting you all again (and hopefully more) next year.