Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

RSNSW and Four Academies Forum 2020

Globe and coronavirus“After COVID-19:
Creating the Best of Times from the Worst of Times”

Date: Thursday, 5 November 2020, 8.50am – 4.30pm
Venue: Live streaming from Government House, Sydney.
Report and Videos: Forum Report and YouTube Playlist


One hundred years after the 1918 Spanish flu claimed more than 50 million lives, pandemics remain on the list of major global risks. They are difficult to predict and invariably alter the course of history in ways we cannot foresee. The impact of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic spread quickly well beyond the people it infected, creating massive shifts across society and all sectors of the economy.

The pandemic has exposed the social and economic vulnerabilities of today’s highly leveraged and interconnected world. It has also compounded prevailing existential risks for Australia, including the impact of climate change, a decade of household income stagnation, and an erosion of critically important political institutions that underpin national prosperity and our free, open, democratic society.

The Royal Society of New South Wales will again join with the four Learned Academies of Australia to stage our annual Forum in Government House, Sydney, on 5th November under the gracious Vice-Regal Patronage of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales. The Forum will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has become a wake-up call for all of us to drive a wide-ranging, national program that will create a more resilient, self-sufficient and prosperous Australia.

Transformations achieved already during the pandemic include escalations of telemedicine, automation, and digital commerce and communications, to name but a few. These show us what is possible when the wrecking-ball of a virus exacts its human and economic toll. Our challenge now is to take these transformations further and build the society and institutions we envisage for a much better future.

The Royal Society of NSW acknowledges the generous support of Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, the NSW Government Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the New South Wales Smart Sensing Network.


The complete program, containing abstracts of the presentations and brief biographies of the presenters, is available as a pdf document.

Start End  
08:30 08:50 Registration 
08:50 08:55 Guests seated
08:55 09:15 Governor is announced into the Ballroom
    Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country
President, Royal Society of NSW
    Official Opening
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
Governor of New South Wales
    Introduction to the Moderator and Rapporteur  (Eric Knight FRSN, Executive Dean, Macquarie Business School)
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE— Chair, Forum Program Committee
09:15 10:15 Keynote Address
Immunity from history: what can we learn from collective responses to crises
Peter Hobbins — Principal Historian, Artefact Heritage Services
10:15 10:45 Morning Tea — served on the Verandah
10:45 11:45 Session I: Forging a resilient future for Australia’s youth
    The New Normal? Living in the liminal and what comes next?
Genevieve Bell AO FTSE— Distinguished Professor and Director, 3A Institute, The Australian National University, and Senior Fellow, Intel
    Emerging generations and evolving intersections between technology and humanity
Jordan Nguyen — Founder & CEO, Psykinetic
11:45 12:45 Session II: Sweeping Changes to Australia’s Healthcare System
    COVID-19: Transforming the way we provide health care
Teresa Anderson AM — Chief Executive, Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health
    The Australian COVID-19 public health response: lessons and future directions
Gregory Dore — Scientia Professor and Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
12:45 14:00 Lunch  — served on the Verandah
14:00 15:00 Session III: Australia’s Culture and Creative Industries
    The weaving power of indigenous storytelling
Larissa Behrendt AO FASSA — Distinguished Professor, University of Technology Sydney
    For what it’s worth: performing arts value lost and found during COVID-19
Bethwyn Serow — Arts and Policy Strategist
15:00 16:00 Reshaping Australia’s Institutions
    Martin Parkinson AC PSM FASSA — Chancellor, Macquarie University
    Anne Tiernan — Professor and Dean Engagement, Griffith Business School, Griffith University
    in conversation with
Julianne Schultz AM FAHA — Professor in Media and Culture, Griffith University, and Chair, The Conversation Media Group
16:00 16:30 Rapporteur Session
Eric Knight FRSN, Macquarie University
16:30 18:00 Refreshments — served on the Verandah
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