Our Mission and Board

The aims of The Commission for The Human Future (CHF) are:

  • to increase worldwide awareness of the real and present danger to civilization and the human species presented by a complex of catastrophic risks
  • to foster global discussion of these risks and their possible solutions
  • to gather and make available trustworthy (ie science based) information and evidence about the main risks
  • to provide a forum for the rational and respectful discussion of existential risks, cross-cutting solutions and opportunities that arise from them.

Members of the Board of CHF are:

Professor John Hewson, Professor Paul Barrratt, Professor Sharon Friel, Julian Cribb FTSE, Em Professor Bob Douglas, Professor Russell Gruen, Professor Judith Healy, Dr Arnagretta Hunter, Dr Susannah Eliott, Ms Alison Leigh, Mr Mark Dorman.

Associate of the Board: Em Professor Ian Chubb


Professor John Hewson AM – Chair

Prof John HewsonJohn Hewson has had several careers in academia, bureaucracy, business, politics, and the media. He is currently a Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU, and an Adjunct Professor at Curtin, UTS, Canberra and Griffith Universities, having been Professor and Head of the School of Economics at UNSW, and Professor of Management and Dean Macquarie Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University.

He has worked for The Australian Treasury (Census and Statistics), the IMF, the Reserve Bank, the UN (UNESCAP), and the ADB, and often advises senior public servants.

In Business, he was a Founder of Macquarie Bank, Chairman ABN Amro Australia, and Chair/Director of a host of public and private companies, with current positions in insurance broking, renewable energy, and funds management and investment banking. He is Chair, Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, Chair, BioEnergy Australia, and a Patron of the Smart Energy Council and the Ocean Nourishment Foundation.

In Politics he has served as Advisor/Chief of Staff to two Federal Treasurers and Prime Minister, as Shadow Finance Minister, Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Industry and Commerce, and Leader of the Liberal Party, and of the Federal Coalition in Opposition. In the media, he has been a regular Columnist since the early 80s for a range of domestic and international newspapers (presently Nine Media and Fairfax Regionals) and publications, a Sky News Contributor, and comments widely on economics and politics on TV, radio, in print, and on line, here and overseas. 

Dr Hewson has also been active in charities and not-for-profits, main positions currently, Chair of Osteoporosis Australia and KidsXpress, Investment Advisory Committee of the Australian Olympic Foundation, Northern Metropolitan Cemeteries Land Manager, and as Member, SteerCo Australian Sustainable Finance Roadmap, National Standing Committee for Energy and the Environment, and as an Ambassador Women for Election Australia.

Professor Paul Barratt AO – ​Co Deputy Chair

Prof Paul BarrattProfessor Paul Barratt AO is a former senior Australian public servant and policymaker. He is currently Deputy Chairman of the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures and Chairman of Australia21. Paul Barratt had a career in Commonwealth Government service spanning more than 30 years, culminating in appointments as Secretary to the Departments of Primary Industries and Energy (1996-98) and Defence (1998-99). In that time his main focus was on resources, energy, primary industry and international trade, with a strong emphasis on bilateral trade negotiations. He has conducted Australian government business in more than 30 countries, with a strong emphasis on China and Japan. A strong theme in his international trade negotiating role was to seek close alignment of the trade-supporting activities of the government with the commercial objectives of Australian-based firms.

His international experience gave him a strong interest in the factors affecting the international competitiveness of Australian business, an interest that he was able to pursue as Executive Director of the Business Council of Australia from 1992-96. Key themes in the Business Council’s program at that time included workplace relations and labour market reform; business innovation; national competition policy; electricity and gas reform, and climate change.  Since departing the Australian Public Service he has been self-employed in a variety of roles in either self-established companies or non-profit organisations with a strong research and public interest focus.  He is an Adjunct Professor at The University of New England.

Professor Sharon Friel – ​Co Deputy Chair

Prof Sharon FrielSharon has recently stepped down from her post as Director and Professor of Health Equity & ARC Future FelloRegNet School of Regulation and Global GovernanceCollege of Asia and the Pacific at ANU. She has been a public health academic since 1992. In January 2010 she was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to investigate the interface between health equity, social determinants and climate change, based at the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. She is an honorary Reader at University College London (UCL). Between 2005 and 2008 she was the Head of the Scientific Secretariat (UCL) for the World Health Organisation’s global Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Before moving to Australia, she worked for many years in the Department of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Sharon is interested in complex systems and how they affect health inequities. Her research is policy focussed and in areas of global health equity; social determinants of health; climate change and health equity; food systems and food security; socio-environmental determinants of non-communicable diseases, and urbanisation and health equity. She is co-founder and chair of the Global Action for Health Equity Network (HealthGAEN), a global alliance concerned with research, training, policy and advocacy related to action in the social and environmental determinants of health equity, and currently leads the Asia Pacific Review of Action in the Social and Environmental Determinants of Health Inequities.​

Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas AO – ​Secretary

Em Prof Bob DouglasA public health academic and former Dean of the medical school at the University of Adelaide, Bob retired from 12 years in the post of founding director of the National Centre for epidemiology and population health at the Australian National University in 2001. He became the founding chair of Australia21 www.australia21.org.au from 2001 to 2011 and the founding chair of the board of SEE-Change www.see-change.org.au from 2006 to 2012. For the past four years he has been a member of the committee of the Canberra alliance for participatory democracy.(CAPaD).

As a continuing board member of Australia21, he is the leader of its project on existential threat and in that role, he chaired a round table at ANU in June 2017 which was stimulated by the work of science writer, Julian Cribb and especially by his book on “Surviving the 21st-century.“ That discussion prompted a proposal by Professor John Hewson and Emeritus Professor Ian Chubb, for the development of a national institution such as we are initiating at present and he has worked with Julian Cribb and others on a public website, www.humansforsurvival.org , which is building working links with groups around the world that are committed to action to preserve our species on the planet. Bob believes that Australia could play a vital role in rescuing our species from what he perceives, on our present course, to be probable extinction in coming decades.

Professor Judith Healy – ​Treasurer

Prof Judith HealyJudith Healy moved to Canberra and the Australian National University in 2004, where she directed an AusAID-funded project in an ANU partnership with Mahidol University in Thailand, running training courses for senior government officials from four South East Asian countries. She then moved to RegNet, now School of Regulation and Global Governance in the College of Asia and Pacific, where she currently is an Honorary Associate Professor. During the 1990s, she lectured in health policy at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine where she also worked for the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (secretariat in WHO Copenhagen). During the 1980s, she lectured in social policy at the Flinders University of South Australia.

She has a Bachelor of Arts from Adelaide University, Master of Social Work from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill USA, and PhD in health sciences from La Trobe University in Melbourne. She has worked on social and health policy areas in Australia, the United States and Europe and has over 30 years teaching experience. She has been a consultant on health systems for the World Health Organization (Europe, Geneva, Manila and Delhi offices), the ILO, the British Council, the Commonwealth Fund New York, the Ford Foundation, RAND Europe and AusAID. Her recent areas of research are the comparative analysis of health care systems, and the regulation of health care safety and quality.

From its inception in 2010 to 2017, she was on the board of the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (a partnership between WHO Manila, WHO Delhi, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and eight governments). This Observatory publishes analyses of the health systems of countries in the Asia Pacific region as well as monographs on policy issues.

She has published 9 books, 26 chapters, over 60 peer-reviewed journal papers, and over 70 other papers and reports. Her edited books include Hospitals in a Changing Europe (Open University Press 2002), Health Care in Central Asia (Open University Press 2002), Accessing Health Care: Responding to Diversity (Oxford University Press 2004), Patient Safety First (Allen & Unwin 2009); and a sole-authored book Improving Health Care Safety and Quality: Reluctant Regulators (Ashgate 2011). She also managed the editing and publication of a book by her late husband, Anthony John McMichael (with Alistair Woodward and Cameron Muir) Climate Change and the Health of Nations (Oxford University Press 2017).

https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/healy-jm

Dr Susannah Elliott – ​Communications Director

Dr Susannah ElliottChief Executive Officer Australian Science Media Centre. Susannah has a PhD in cell and developmental biology from Macquarie University, a Graduate Diploma in Journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and an honorary doctorate in science communication from the University of Adelaide. She has more than 25 years of practical experience in science communication with the interface between science and the media being her primary focus. She started out as a research scientist working on the soil microorganisms known as slime moulds and after her PhD she turned to communications, managing the UTS Centre for Science Communication during the 1990s. During this time she helped establish major science communication projects such as the Horizons of Science forums for journalists and scientists, Science in the Bush and Science in the Pub. In 2000 she moved to Stockholm Sweden to take up the position of Director of Communications at IGBP (now Future Earth), a global research organisation focused on the study of global environmental change. She returned to Australia in 2005 to help establish the Australian Science Media Centre in Adelaide.

In 2010-11 she chaired the Expert Working Group on Science and the Media for the Federal government, producing a report, Science and the Media: From Ideas to Action, and in February 2011 was appointed to the national Climate Commission (until May 2012). She is a Board member of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, a member of the Inspiring South Australia Steering Group, a judge on the Banksia Sustainability Awards and a regular contributor to ABC Radio National’s Drive program with Patricia Karvelas.

Julian Cribb FRSA, FTSE

Julian CribbJulian Cribb is an Australian author and science communicator. He is principal of Julian Cribb & Associates who provide international consultancy in the communication of science, agriculture, food, mining, energy and the environment. He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society for the Arts, the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering (ATSE) and the Australian National University Emeritus Faculty.

His career includes appointments as scientific editor for The Australian newspaper, director of national awareness for CSIRO, editor of several newspaper including the National Farmer and Sunday Independent, member of numerous scientific boards and advisory panels, and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication.

His published work includes over 8000 articles, 3000 science media releases and eleven books. He has received 32 awards for journalism. He was a nominee for ACT Senior Australian of the Year in 2019.He has produced four books on the human future and the risks we face. The Coming Famine (2010) explored the question of how we can feed 10 billion humans this century. Poisoned Planet (2014) examines the contamination of the Earth system and humanity by anthropogenic chemicals and how to prevent it. Surviving the 21st Century (Springer 2017) tackles the huge existential crisis now facing humanity - and what we can do about it. His new book Food or War looks at the nexus between food and human conflict in the C21st and the future of food.

Professor Russell Gruen

Professor Russell GruenDean, College of Health and Medicine, Australian National University, Canberra

The College includes the John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU Medical School, Research School of Population Health, and Research School of Psychology.

I lead ANU in its efforts to be the academic home for advancing the health of nations – that is, the health and wellbeing of our great Australian nation, our First Nations, and our neighbouring nations. We are doing this by focusing on (1) discoveries and innovations that address the major threats to human health, and that transform healthcare, especially the community-based care of ageing populations; (2) supporting current and future leaders in effective policymaking and practice transformation; and (3) developing novel means of piloting, monitoring, evaluating and optimising health system initiatives. I am positioning ANU to be a leading source of expertise for the health systems of the twenty-first century.

I bring experience in innovation and healthcare, injury biology, and modern education pedagogies. Early in my career I took inspiration from the great clinician scientists, a medical student posting to Nepal, a PhD on access to specialist care for Aboriginal people in remote communities, and a Harkness Fellowship in Health Policy studying medical professionalism at Harvard. With health system and leadership interests, I trained in trauma surgery and practiced for ten years as a consultant surgeon at the Royal Melbourne and Alfred Hospitals, specialising in care of severely injured people, resuscitation and emergency surgery, management of grief and loss, and interprofessional practice. I fronted injury prevention campaigns, and I coached high-performance teams for time-critical and extreme stress situations.

In 2009, at age forty, Monash University appointed me to one of the world’s first combined chairs in surgery and public health, and Director of the National Trauma Research Institute. In this role I delivered the Australian Trauma Registry and a national trauma quality improvement program, multinational clinical trials, an Australian-Indian Government partnership on trauma system development, and I co-founded a WHO Global Alliance for Care of the Injured.

From 2015 to 2018 I was Director of the Institute for Health Technologies at Nanyang Technological University Singapore, and Vice-Dean of its state-of-the-art Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine established with Imperial College London. I created programs, platforms and partnerships for medical technology and healthcare innovation that harnessed Singapore’s vibrant ecosystem and leveraged NTU’s breadth and depth of engineering and computer sciences. In January 2019 I returned to Australia as the inaugural Dean of the newly-created College of Health and Medicine at the Australian National University, specifically to develop and implement a growth strategy to enhance distinctiveness, productivity and impact.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, the Academy of Medicine of Singapore, and the International Society of Surgery. I am also President of ISS’s Alliance for Surgery and Anaesthesia Presence, and a Lancet Commissioner in Global Surgery and in Traumatic Brain Injury.

I believe we are on the verge of significant healthcare transformation, and that public health crises present opportunities to shift paradigms. A good example is the Victorian State Trauma System, a high-performing system in which I was privileged to work, and the evolution of which I chronicled in my book “From Roadside to Recovery.” It started in 1970 when Victoria had the world’s highest per capita road fatality rate and a local newspaper editor ‘declared war on 1034,’ the number who’d died on Victorian roads the previous year. Through innovation, leadership, determination, intersectoral collaboration and bipartisan policymaking, Victoria became a global leader in injury prevention and road safety, the death rate was reduced by 85%, and then one of the world’s best trauma care systems was created that, within a decade, doubled the likelihood a severely injured person would survive to lead a fulfilling life. Penicillinesque.

Dr Arnagretta Hunter

Dr Arnagretta Hunter Dr Arnagretta Hunter is a physician and cardiologist. She understands medicine through our human biology, the social determinants of health and the broader environmental context. Before medicine she completed a BA(Hons) in political science at University of Melbourne and has both MBBS and MPH from University of Sydney with a particular interest in health policy. She trained at St Vincent’s Hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne, and worked as a cardiologist in Wagga Wagga for several years before moving to Canberra in 2014. She was a Clinical Senior Lecturer with UNSW Medical School and now teaches at ANUMS. She has also taught with the RACP programs in NSW and ACT.

She writes and speaks about health and climate change with work through the ANU Climate Change Institute and as ACT Chair for Doctors for the Environment Australia.  She is a member of the Climate and Health Alliance, and is on the Friends Advisory Board for the National Rural Health Alliance. She is a 2019 Churchill Fellow, assessing the role of narrative in health and is a Visiting Fellow in 2020 at RegNet ANU.

Ms Alison Leigh

Alison LeighAfter almost two decades as Editorial Director of the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers I am now working with the Congress as a consultant. Part festival, part think-tank, part market, the Congress brings together broadcast and production executives, producers and creatives all working in the science and factual genres. Under my direction our event has acquired the reputation of being the world’s best for tracking the trends and engaging in provocative and engrossing debate around issues affecting our genres.

Previously I played a leading role in producing and commissioning science TV programs in Australia, including six years as Series Producer and then Executive Producer of QUANTUM and then Head ABC TV Science Unit. I helped develop National Science Week in Australia and I am a founder member and past President of the Australian Science Communicators. Before coming to Australia I was a TV and radio reporter /presenter in the UK, ultimately reporting and presenting for the UK’s flagship morning current program, BBC Radio 4 ‘s Today program. Outside of my WCSFP commitments I offer a comprehensive service from producing and executive producing to content origination, research , script writing and script editing, convening and hosting workshops and events.

Mr Mark Dorman

Mark DormanMark is a Statistical Analyst in Education Statistics with the Australian Bureau Of Statistics. He holds a Bachelor of Forensic Science and Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Environment, specialising in Education and Social Change. His work and passion is based around increasing public awareness and understanding of complex ideas and leveraging this for capacity building and positive social change.

He has been a member Australia21 for six years where he has been involved in a number of projects such as hosting the podcast series ‘Survival Matters’ – a podcast centered on engaging Australian youth in the existential threats to humankind, and Smarter About Drugs: A Conversation Pack – an education program that promotes discussion and critical thinking amongst young people about drug use and drug policy. Mark has provided education and direct emergency aid internationally which has given him a first-hand experience in how existential threats impact communities cross-culturally.

Associate of the Board – ​Emeritus ​Professor Ian Chubb AC

Em Professor Ian Chubb Emeritus Professor Ian Chubb AC also played a key role in the development of the project and continues as an Associate of the Interim Board. Ian Chubb was Chief Scientist for Australia from May 2011 to January 2016.Prior to that, Professor Chubb was Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University from January 2001 to March 2011; Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University of South Australia for six years and the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Monash University for two years.  Professor Chubb was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001, and was the ACT’s Australian of the Year in 2011.  He has been awarded six honorary doctorates: a DSc by Flinders University in 2000; a D.Litt by Charles Darwin University and a D.Univ by the Australian National University, both in 2011; an LLD by Monash University in 2012, a D.Univ by the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2014 and an LLD by the University of Melbourne in 2015. He played a key role in the development of the proposal for the Commission.

Australia21This website was commenced by a group of Members of The Emeritus Faculty at The Australian National University and is administered by a steering group of the not-for profit think tank, Australia21. The views expressed on this website are those of the initial author and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by the University, the Emeritus Faculty or Australia21.

Please select the link to see further details about the steering group.