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Board Level – Winter 2020

Board Level – Winter 2020

As the winter of 2020 comes to an end, it is time again for another ANZ ACBS Board Level Blog, updating you on the last three months of ANZ ACBS activities. As I write this, my home city (Melbourne) continues to be under a night curfew, in addition to a range of other measures designed to manage COVID-19. Every person wears a mask, most businesses are shut and police checkpoints litter our city. A year ago, this would have been unimaginable in Australia or New Zealand. As I witness and experience first hand the devastating impact the global pandemic is having, I am reminded more than ever of the important work we do and the importance of the ANZ ACBS mission of alleviation of human suffering and advancement of well-being.

Despite everything that has been going on, ANZ ACBS and its team of volunteers (in addition to our executive officer, Kali Madden), have remained ever busy. After needing to postpone our work on face-to-face events, we have been continually focused on how we can best respond to, and be helpful in, the dynamic world we are living in. As I put together this summary of our work from the past three months, I cannot help but be amazed at the dedication, skill and commitment of our volunteers, both on the Board and more broadly.

I am writing this blog on Wurundjeri land. I would like to acknowledge these first nation owners of this land, the Wujundjeri people, and pay respects to elders past, present and emerging.

ANZ ACBS is an organisation that relies heavily on the commitment of an amazing group of volunteers. If, while reading, you note an area in which you would like to support ANZ ACBS, please feel free to get in touch with me directly.

Action and Advocacy

Enhancing the ability of ANZ ACBS to contribute to policy discussions relevant to our mission has increasingly become a priority for the Board. Our action and advocacy committee, consisting of Sarah Mooy, Andrew Duirs, Claire Sillence, Julie Grove and Toni Hanna, have been working hard to improve ANZ ACBS’ ability to respond to key issues affecting our communities. Particularly, they have been working with the Board to identify actionable steps ANZ ACBS can take to be a more inclusive space for our members, as well as to meaningfully support important areas which are directly related to our organisation’s mission, including the black and aboriginal lives matter movement and climate change. Over the next few months ANZ ACBS plans to look at ways we can more visibly take positions on key issues (e.g., through updating our websites) as well as finding ways to provide a platform to a wider variety of voices within our community.

As ACBS becomes an increasingly worldwide organisation, members of our chapter executive, including myself, president-elect Julie Grove and secretary Andrew Duirs have also been working in conjunction with the other non-US chapters to look at ways ACBS can better represent the diversity within our organisation.

Finances during COVID-19

As I noted in my last update, the COVID-19 Pandemic has seen the board work to ensure ANZ ACBS remains financially viable. This has required a significant shift: moving predominantly online in our delivery of events, including developing and hosting online meet-ups, webinars and our book reading series. While these events have been successes, we have been very lucky to continue to qualify for Australian Government support, including Job Keeper and the Cashboost program which has helped us manage the expenses required to simply keep the doors open of a registered charity in Australia. Another big thank you to our excellent treasurer Farah Gulamoydeen, in partnership with our executive officer, Kali Madden, who have continued to navigate the complex bureaucracy. As I write this, I am pleased to advise that ANZ ACBS is in a strong financial position, sufficient to manage the risk associated with large events, such as running conferences.

World Con 2020

July saw the first ever online ACBS World Conference. While the time zones were fairly (in some cases very) unfavourable to our region, the event was an exciting opportunity to access world-class CBS presentations, which would normally be challenging to access due to associated travel costs. Members of our community played a key role in the success of the event. I was lucky enough to catch (or hear about) contributions from Jennifer Kemp, Eric Morris, Linda Nicholson, Mary Sawyer, Paul Atkins and Sasha Rombouts. ANZ ACBS also hosted a networking event during World Con (I am pictured on the left, hosting this event, with one of many World Con coffees in hand!).

ANZ ACBS will be contacting members shortly to get feedback on their conference experiences to ensure that our region’s needs are represented in discussions around potential future online conferences.


Since the introduction of paid membership a year ago, ANZ ACBS has been considering how to best provide value to members. This has been with a view to both retaining longstanding members of the organisation, as well as to attract new members interested in our science.

We are thrilled to have Michael Swadling (pictured on the right) step in to oversee our membership activities and, along with our secretary Andrew Duirs, lead this project. At present, ANZ ACBS has 151 members and we are hoping to continue to expand this over the coming months and years.

Book Readings

Winter 2020 saw the launch of our free book reading series. Lead by ANZ ACBS board secretary Andrew Duirs, these readings have provided authors of CBS-informed books an opportunity to share their work with our community.

Our first event saw Ben Sedley (joined from the US by co-author Lisa Coyne) reading from their new book ‘Stuff That’s Loud’.

This was followed by Professor Kenneth Pakenham powerfully reading from his new memoir, ‘The Trauma Banquet’.

Both events provided a great introduction to these two outstanding books, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the writing process.