Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1283rd OGM and Open Lecture

Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott“Drinking for three: Mother, baby and society”

Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FRSN FAHMS

The University of Sydney and
Sydney Children’s Hospital (Westmead)

Date: Wednesday, 3 June 2020, 6.30pm
Venue: Click here to access the Zoom webinar. Click here for help in getting started with Zoom.
Entry: No charge
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Summary: Australians love alcohol! Amongst the highest consumers in the world, we are renowned for our excellent quality wine. Our national sporting teams are sponsored by the alcohol industry and advertising and promotion of alcohol is rife, including to children. Yet the costs of alcohol are immense. It is difficult to measure the full economic impact of alcohol on our health and mental health and our education, child protection and justice systems. It is impossible to measure the costs to individuals and society.

Alcohol has a particularly devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of society — our children. Tonight, I will discuss the topic of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and the current state of play in Australia. FASD results from the brain injury to the unborn child that is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Children with FASD have severe neurodevelopmental impairment, birth anomalies and learning and behavioural problems, which have lifelong consequences.

Over two decades there has been enormous progress in the recognition of FASD as a significant but preventable public health problem. Clinical practice, education, service development and policy have been guided by a national collaborative approach involving clinicians, researchers, parent support groups, Indigenous communities and NGOs — with government and NHMRC funding. We have a national action plan, advisory group, website, and disease register, training programs and specialist FASD assessment clinics, and research and clinical networks. We have innovative diagnostic techniques and access to the NDIS. But, the future is prevention, which remains our biggest challenge: 60% of Australian women continue to drink during pregnancy and children are increasingly diagnosed with FASD. We know what will minimise alcohol harms but face significant challenges to implementing these interventions, as will be discussed.

About the speaker: Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott holds a Chair in Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and is Consultant Paediatrician at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (Westmead). She holds a prestigious Practitioner Fellowship, her third, from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. In 2019 she received the James Cook Medal for 2018 from the Royal Society of NSW – its highest honour – and was the first female amongst its 47 recipients at that time.

Professor Elliott has dedicated her career to advancing human rights, health and quality of life for ill and disadvantaged children in Australia and beyond, through education, research, clinical care and advocacy. Specific examples include promoting the health and human rights of: children disabled by rare diseases, FASD and vaccine-preventable and other infectious diseases; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, particularly those in remote Australia; Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children, particularly in Immigration detention; children receiving Cochlear implants; Children with Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGMC); and Children living in developing countries in our region, particularly Vietnam.

For over 20 years, Professor Elliott has worked to improve the lives of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Australia. She is regarded as pre-eminent in advocacy, research, policy and clinical care regarding FASD and has an international reputation in the field. She is a member of the Australian Government’s FASD Advisory Committee; Co-Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in FASD; Co-Director of the Care and Intervention for Children and Adolescents with Drug and Alcohol Problems (CIDADA); and Head of the CICADA NSW FASD Assessment clinic.

Australian Government funding has allowed Professor Elliott and colleagues to: conduct a FASD prevalence study in remote Aboriginal communities of WA and develop a national Guide to the Diagnosis of FASD, a national Hub (website), a national surveillance system and case Register for FASD, a program to evaluate and disseminate the Diagnostic Guide, and a series of online e-learning modules on alcohol use in pregnancy and FASD. She leads several NHMRC and government funded projects on alcohol in pregnancy and FASD. In 2018 she received the Australian Medical Association’s Excellence in Healthcare Award for her work in FASD and in 2019 received the Starfish Award for research and advocacy in at the International FASD conference in Canada.

Professor Elliott will speak on “Drinking for Three: Mother, baby and society”, a consideration of the urgency of properly addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.


Calendar of Meetings in 2020

This page lists the Calandar of Meetings for the Royal Society of NSW in 2020.

Follow the links below for meetings held in Sydney, in Newcastle by the Hunter Branch, and in Mittagong by the Southern Highlands Branch.


Sydney Meetings 2020


Wednesday, 12 February

6.00 for 6.30pm

1280th Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture: 2019 RSNSW Scholarship Presentations

Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Drought and wellbeing in Australian rural communities: implications for improving adaptive capacity and resilience to drought adaptive capacity and resilience to drought
Ms Emma Austin
PhD Student, Centre for Water, Climate and Land, University of Newcastle

Searches for Extended Higgs Sectors, Flavour Physics Anomalies and Dark Matter at the LHC
Mr Shayam Balaji
PhD Student, School of Physics, University of Sydney

Charting the Extracellular Matrix Through Breast Tumour Progression
Mr Michael Papanicolao
PhD Student, Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Botanical biofilters for the phytofiltration of urban air pollutants
Mr Thomas Pettit
PhD Student, School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney

Thursday, 20 February

5.30 for 6.00pm

Royal Society of NSW Liversidge Lecture

Venue: The Galleries, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney, Kensington

The journey from simple polymers to nano-footballs: opportunities for better cancer treatment
Scientia Professor Martina Stenzel FAA
School of Chemistry, UNSW Sydney

Thursday, 27 February

6.00 for 6.30pm

Speaking the Music…The Magic of the Solo Violin
A joint presentation of the of the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Dr David Hush and Anna Da Silva Chen (violinist)

Wednesday, 4 March

6.00 for 6.30pm

1281st Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Soils: the least understood part of science, yet vital for all of us
Professor Robin J. Batterham
Former Chief Scientist of Australia and President of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and currently Kernot Professor of Engineering, University of Melbourne

Friday, 6 March


Frontiers of Science Forum
A joint forum presented by the Royal Society of NSW, the Teachers’ Guild of NSW, the Australian Institute of Physics, and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute

New frontiers in photonics —the science of light
Professor Ben Eggleton FAA FTSE FRSN
School of Physics and Nano Institute, University of Sydney

The mathematics of health honey bee hives
Professor Mary Myerscough
School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney

Fitbits for sharks: combining biology and data science
Ms Julianna Kadar
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

Drug discovery inspired by natural products
Professor Richard Payne
School of Chemistry, University of Sydney

Thursday, 12 March

6.00 for 6.30pm

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies
A joint meeting presented by the the Australian Institute of Energy, the Australian Nuclear Association, the Sydney Division of Engineers Australia, and the Royal Society of NSW

Venue: Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney

Challenges for the Future: Energy Storage and Waste Plastic—Two Australian solutions going global
Professor Thomas Maschmeyer HonDSc FAA FTSE FMAE FRSN
School of Chemistry, University of Sydney


Thursday, 19 March

On the Shoulders of Giants
A joint presentation of the of the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and the Royal Society of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Henry Carmichael: Educational Progressive, Social Reformer, Secularist and Winegrower
Dr Lesley Scanlon
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and the University of Sydney

Wednesday, 22 April


153rd Annual General Meeting (6.00pm)
1282nd Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture (immediately following)

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Presidential Reflections—science stuff and the President’s random path
Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO FAA FRSN
President, Royal Society of NSW

Thursday, 21 May


[email protected]: May 2020

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Ten: the Mapping of Colonial Australia
Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
University of Newcastle and the Royal Society of NSW

Wednesday, 3 June


1283rd Ordinary General Meeting and Open Lecture

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Drinking for three: Mother, baby and society
Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FRSN FAHMS
University of Sydney and Sydney Children’s Hostpital, Westmead

Saturday, 27 June


Virtual Annual Dinner 2020

Venue: Zoom Webinar

Education and Evidence in a Post-Truth Post-COVID World
Distinguished Professor Brian Schmidt AC FRS DistFRSN FAA
Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University

To be advised

[email protected] (2)

Venue: To be advised

Topic: to be advised
Speaker: to be advised

Thursday, 5 November

Time: To be advised

Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Annual Forum

Venue: To be advised

Topic: to be advised

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Hunter Branch Meetings


Friday, 31 January

5.00 for 5.30pm

Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-1

Venue: Newcastle City Hall (Hunter Room), 290 King Street, Newcastle

Mathematics in Industry: Optimisation in Action — Unlocking Value in the Mining, Energy, and Agriculture Industries
Professor Ryan Loxton
Curtin University

Wednesday, 27 May


Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-2

Venue: Zoom Webinar

COVID-19 and confusion: the story of a nasty but nice viral receptor
Emeritus Professor Eugenie Lumbers AM DistFRSN FAA
University of Newcastle

Wednesday, 2 December


Hunter Branch Meeting 2020-3

Venue: To be advised

Planetary Health: Safeguarding Health in the Anthropocene Epoch
Professor Tony Capon
Monash University

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