National Conference, Hobart 11 – 14 April 2019


The speakers at the Conference Symposium will present a diversity of interesting topics. Details of the speakers is below.

Professor Alison Venn, Director, Menzies Research Centre

Professor Alison Venn has been the Director of Menzies since January 2016 and prior to that was the Institute’s Deputy  Director, Associate Director (Research) and leader of the Public Health and Primary Care research theme.

She began her career as a biomedical scientist specialising in immunology and biochemistry,   but an interest in public health and the social factors affecting health drew her into epidemiology where she has focused on cardiovascular disease through the life course and cancer. She has more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles published, including in  The Lancet,  New England Journal of MedicineBritish Medical Journal  and the  Journal of the American College of Cardiology.   She has been awarded more than $35 million in research funding over her career.

Professor Venn leads the NHMRC-funded Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study, is the Director of the Tasmanian Cancer Registry and the Tasmanian Data Linkage Unit and contributes to numerous partnerships with the Tasmanian Government. As Director of Menzies Professor Venn is a member of the University’s College of Health and Medicine Management Team.

Mr Martin George, Manager of the Launceston Planetarium at the Queen Victoria Museum in Tasmania, Australia.

Martin was born in England and educated at the University of Tasmania, where he was awarded an honours degree in physics, specialising in astronomy. He is passionate about public communication of astronomy, making frequent appearances on radio (mainly) and television since 1973 to discuss astronomy and space research. He has three regular monthly radio programmes in Australia on astronomy, and has often appeared on television to discuss the subject. Amongst Martin’s many other activities are regular newspaper and magazine columns, including a weekly article in the Saturday Mercury newspaper. Martin has also appeared in the media in several other countries.

He has co-authored two books: Advanced Stargazing, published by Weldon Owen and republished under other titles; and Hale-Bopp — Comet of the Century (in Thai, published in Bangkok).

Martin is a Fellow and former President of the International Planetarium Society (IPS) — the world body of planetarium professionals — and currently he is IPS Chair of International Relations. As part of these duties, he has been instrumental in setting up a national association of Chinese planetariums and has organised for that association to hold affiliate and voting status on the IPS Council. Currently, he is hoping to assist Thailand and The Philippines in setting up national groups. Martin is a member of several other astronomy-related professional organisations, including the International Astronomical Union; his IAU involvements include Education, and the History of Radio Astronomy.

Martin has kept close links with the University of Tasmania, and has on many occasions presented undergraduate courses in astronomy at the University’s Launceston Campus. He frequently speaks to community groups such as Rotary International, and the public, on astronomical topics.

He has been awarded the David Allen Prize for astronomy communication by the Astronomical Society of Australia (Australia’s body of professional astronomers), and the Winifred Curtis Medal for excellence in Science Communication by the Science Teachers’ Association of Tasmania.

Martin has a keen interest in astronomical history. He is currently undertaking research into the history of low-frequency radio astronomy in Tasmania, about which he has had several papers published. He has also been a co-author on papers about eclipses visible from Thailand. He has also been a tour guide, on several occasions, for astronomical tours within Australia and overseas, including China, France and the USA.

Mr Bill Lawson AM

Bill Lawson is a retired Hobart based Professional Engineer who worked professionally for 43 years from 1970 to 2013 in both the public and private sectors throughout Australia and NZ. In addition, Bill worked throughout his career in the community sector seeking to overcome youth unemployment and Indigenous disadvantage and in advancing Hobart as an international hub for Antarctic and Southern Ocean science and associated logistical support.

In 2003, Bill was announced as the ‘Professional Engineer of the Year’ by the peak body ‘Engineers Australia’ for his work against youth unemployment by founding the national ‘not for profit’, Beacon Foundation, and for services to Engineering.

In 2015, Bill stepped down as Beacon Chairman after 27 years and took up Fred Chaney’s seat on the Board of Reconciliation Australia (RA) in which capacity he remains today. In 2017, Bill founded Reconciliation Tasmania (RT) which he currently co-chairs in seeking to bring all Tasmanians closer together in a true spirit of friendship and trust through truth and reconciliation.

As an Engineer, Bill believes that social challenges are best overcome from a basis of first understanding ‘causes’ and then the development of upstream interventions to remove negative ‘effects’. Bill will seek to illustrate his address to OAA’s 2019 Conference with examples related to both youth unemployment (Beacon) and Indigenous disadvantage (RA and RT).

Bill was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006.

  Adjunct Professor Dr Tony Press

Dr Tony Press is an Adjunct Professor at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC), and the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart.  He was the CEO of ACE from 2009 to 2014. Before that, from 1998-2008, he was the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Tony chaired the Antarctic Treaty’s Committee for Environmental Protection from 2002 to 2006. He was Australia’s representative to the Committee for Environmental Protection and Alternative Representative to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings from 1999 to 2008 and Australia’s Commissioner for the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources from 1998 to 2008. He has a BSc (Hons 1) and PhD from the University of Sydney.

 Ms Jan Davis

Tagged as Tasmania’s top political lobbyist and one of the most influential people in the state, Jan Davis is a passionate Tasmanian.

A skilled communicator, Jan is adept at responding on message in both mainstream and social media environments. Well known for her ability to express key points of an argument clearly and to present information in an accessible manner, Jan is considered a go-to person by the media.

In the past, Jan has held leadership roles in a number of industry groups in the agriculture sector, including the Agribusiness Association of Australia, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Growcom (Queensland Fruit and Vegetable Growers), Greening Australia, the Australian Mushroom Growers Association, and the Nursery and Garden Industry Association of Australia. After a stint as CEO of the Launceston Chamber of Commerce, she has headed up the Local Government Professionals (Tasmania). As CEO of these organisations, she has earned a reputation as an innovative thinker and a driver of change.

She has more degrees than you can poke a stick at, including a Master of Agribusiness; a Master of Environmental Planning; a Bachelor of Economics; and Graduate Diplomas in Environmental Studies and Education. She is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors; a fellow of the Australian Institute of Management; and a Fellow of the Australian Society of Association Executives.

An experienced non-executive director, Jan is currently a member of the boards of Landcare Australia Ltd, Fermentation Tasmania Ltd and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Tasmania) Inc. Previous board roles have included Plant Health Australia Ltd, Horticulture Australia Ltd, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. She also served as chair of the Australian Agricultural Colleges Corporation.

Jan has also served on a number of key government bodies nationally and across five states. She was appointed recently by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as one of only two independent members of their Agriculture Consultative Committee. Jan has served on various groups including the Tasmanian Food Industry Advisory Council, Tasmanian Skills Institute, Planning Reform Taskforce, Energy Reform Taskforce, Bushfire Recovery Team and the Freight Logistics Co-ordination Team.