Australian Academy of the Humanities

The Australian Academy of the Humanities was established by Royal Charter in 1969 to advance scholarship and public interest in the humanities in Australia. It operates as an independent not-for-profit organisation partly funded by the Australian government.[1]

The Australian Academy of the Humanities
TypeIncorporated by Royal Charter
  • Canberra, Australia
OriginsThe Australian Humanities Research Council
Area served
Lesley Head
Richard Waterhouse
Honorary Secretary
Elizabeth Minchin
Executive Director
Inga Davis


The Australian Academy of the Humanities was established by Royal Charter in 1969. Its antecedent was the Australian Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which was convened informally in 1954 through the combined efforts of Dr Brian R. Elliott and Professor A. N. Jeffares, who organised preliminary meetings in Melbourne of delegates drawn from the Faculties of Arts in Australian universities. The AHRC was a positive force in education and scholarship, and its activities gradually evolved, especially in its support for national projects in the humanities. Recognition among the AHRC executive of the changing functions of the Council led in 1967 to the proposal of establishing an Academy. Royal consent was granted to the petition on 25 June 1969, and Letters Patent issued, constituting the Academy from that date. The Academy's Foundation Fellows were the members the AHRC.

The highest distinction in scholarship in the humanities was required of candidates for election to the Fellowship of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. The first intake comprising sixteen Fellows (including Geoffrey Blainey, Kenneth Inglis, John Mulvaney, David Monro, Franz Philipp, Saiyid Rizvi, Oskar Spate and Judith Wright) and one Honorary Fellow (J. C. Beaglehole) were elected by the fifty-one Foundation Fellows at a Special General Meeting on 20–21 September 1969. Annual elections have taken place since that time.

For an account of the debates and efforts that led to the establishment of the Academy, see Graeme Davison FAHA's article in the inaugural edition of Humanities Australia: 'Phoenix Rising: The Academy and the Humanities in 1969'.[2]


The Academy is governed by a Council of leaders in the humanities, elected from among its Fellows, who provide strategic direction, policy guidance, and management oversight. The Council meets four times a year. A Canberra-based Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Academy. In February 2023 Inga Davis succeeded Christina Parolin as executive director.[3]

Council in 2020Edit

President: Professor Lesley Head FASSA FAHA (elected November 2020)

Vice-President & Honorary Secretary: Professor Emerita Elizabeth Minchin FAHA

Vice-President & International Secretary: Professor Louise Edwards FASSA FHKAH FAHA

Honorary Treasurer: Emeritus Professor Richard Waterhouse FRSN FASSA FAHA

Editor: Emeritus Professor Graham Tulloch FAHA

Immediate Past President: Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA

Members: Professor Duncan Ivison FRSN FAHA, Professor Jennifer Milam FAHA, Distinguished Professor Ingrid Piller FAHA, Distinguished Professor Julian Thomas FAHA and Distinguished Professor Sean Ulm FSA MAACAI FAHA


The Academy comprises a Fellowship of over 640 of the most influential humanities researchers and practitioners in, or associated, with Australia. The post-nominal abbreviation for a Fellow of the Academy is FAHA.

The following eleven disciplines serve as the Fellowship's electoral sections:

Election to the Academy takes place at the Annual general meeting, following nomination by Council on the advice of the eleven electoral sections.

Foundation FellowsEdit

At the date of the grant of the Royal Charter establishing the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1969, there were 51 Members of the AHRC who became the Foundation Fellows of the new Academy.

An asterisk denotes a Fellow who was also a Foundation Member of the AHRC.

Honorary Foundation FellowsEdit

Other academiesEdit

There are three other Learned Academies in Australia: the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA), and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). These four academies co-operate through the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), formed in 2010. In addition to this, the four Academies convene the biennial National Scholarly Communication Forum "to disseminate information changes to the context and structures of scholarly communication in Australia, and to make recommendations on what a broad spectrum of participants see as the best developmental policies".


  1. ^ Our History, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  2. ^ Davison, Graeme (2010). "Phoenix Rising: The Academy and the Humanities in 1969" (PDF). Humanities Australia. Australian Academy of the Humanities (1). Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  3. ^ Nielsen, Georgia (23 January 2023). "Welcoming new Executive Director, Inga Davis". Australian Academy of the Humanities. Retrieved 23 February 2023.
  4. ^ Guide to the Papers of David Armstrong, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  5. ^ Auchmuty, James Johnston (1909–1981), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  6. ^ Bassett, Lady Flora Marjorie (Marnie) (1889–1980), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  7. ^ Wallace Kirsop, Chisholm, Alan Rowland (1888–1981),], French-Australian Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  8. ^ Rafe de Crespigny, Fitzgerald, Charles Patrick (1902–1992), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  9. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  10. ^ Wallace Kirsop, Scholar of French Poetry over Three Continents: James Ronald Lawler 1929-2019, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  11. ^ Guide to the Papers of John Passmore, Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  12. ^ Arthur Cambitoglou (n.d.), "Arthur Dale Trendall (1909-1995)", Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  13. ^ Francis West (n.d.), "Harold Leslie White (1903-1992"), Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  14. ^ John Farquharson, Obituary: Sir Harold Leslie White, Obituaries Australia, Retrieved 25 October 2022.