Australia’s top experts tackle the nation’s biggest issues: 60 speakers across two days

Over two days on November 22+23, dozens of Australia’s most important and influential social science experts will present their big ideas to tackle some of society’s wicked problems at the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia’s 50th Anniversary Symposium, The Social Future of Australia.

Social scientists contribute essential research, policy evidence, expertise and advice across a wide range of issues impacting Australian society.

Presentations at the Symposium will cover diverse topics including climate change; dealing with the fallout of COVID-19 Australia’s international relationships; the way we progress reconciliation with First Nation peoples; violence towards women; and changes in the way we work and interact with technology.

Each of the 60 speakers at the Symposium will focus on solutions and ways forward, offering insight and clarity to assist leaders and policymakers to make decisions about Australia’s future.

What Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia’s
50th Anniversary Symposium, The Social Future of Australia
When The 2-day event will be held online from 22-23 of November 2021 and is free for all to attend.
Program/ registration View the program and register here.
Media requests For speaker interview requests or access to embargoed draft speeches, please contact:


Sample of speakers and topics (for the full program see here)


Topic Talks Speaker Key points
Reconciliation with First Nations people


– Chaired by Ian Anderson

Fight for liberty and freedom – understanding the lessons of history: An Aboriginal perspective John Maynard
  • The opportunity to understand, recognise and celebrate the long history of the Aboriginal political struggle is not a ‘negative’ but a truth that can enhance the nation today.
The land still speaks Felicity Meakins
  • Australia has one of the highest rates of language loss worldwide.
  • Over the last decade there has been inspiring renaissance of First Nations languages in the last decade including finding new contexts in the classroom, visual and performing arts-based practices and on-Country programs
The Uluru Statement provides the way forward Thomas Mayor
  • Can we win a referendum to protect and empower First Nation voices through the Uluru Statement?


Climate change as a transformative opportunity for reconciliation Bhiamie Eckford-
  • Reimagining national parks and protected areas from an Indigenous perspective



Australia’s international relationships


Chaired by James Fox

COP26 negotiations in Glasgow Klaus Neumann
  • Criticisms of Australia because of its role in COP26 negotiations.



How can Australia improve education and health in a constantly changing world?


Chaired by Patrick McGorry

Ensuring good mental health during the pandemic and beyond Richard Bryant
  • How we deliver mental health services also needs to be considered differently as most people now turn to internet-based resources for much of their help. This tendency is fraught with the potential for people to be exposed to false information and mental health advice that is not driven by science.
Looking back and looking forward: Are the health and health care problems of yesterday doomed to be still the problems of tomorrow? Stephen Duckett
  • The politics of policy; overly complex state and federal arrangements; the overreach of stakeholders.
  • Potential doom factors and what needs to change Our ageing population; the revolving door of ministers and bureaucrats, and the erosion of public service experts; the power of stakeholders.




Productivity and innovation in the future


Chaired by Sarah Wheeler

How the labour market is changing and needs to change John Quiggin
  • Can workplaces survive the post-pandemic world?
To produce or reproduce – Is that the question for women? Marian Baird
  • Australia’s women face a number of work and care tensions that have repercussions for society and have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
  • Low fertility rates, low immigration, high care needs, the withdrawal of women in the market, plus a major lack of respect for women in the workplace are key issues in this discussion.


The social futures of emerging technologies. Sarah Pink
  • A look into what happens when design anthropologists and sociologists are left out of the conversation.
  • The great disconnect: When decisions are outsourced to consultants: What happens when the views of consultants are taken more seriously than those of academic anthropologists and sociologist experts in the design of new tech? Unmet needs. There is an imminent need for deep knowledge of society and people that the social sciences specialise in.