Session: City Community and Wellbeing – A Panel

Community, Migration and Development Stream


Day 2, Parallel Session 2B: 1:30pm – 3:00pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16), Main Auditorium, Level 5, Room 1

Chair: Associate Professor Val Colic-Peisker (RMIT University)


Robert Cummins
  • Panellist: Professor Robert Cummins (Deakin University)
  • About the panellist: Professor Robert Cummins has held a Personal Chair in Psychology at Deakin University since 1997. Prior to that, he held the positions of Sub-Dean in the Faculty of Arts (1990–1992) and Reader in Psychology (1993–1996). His special area of interest is research into quality of life and he is regarded as an international authority in this field. He has been invited as a visiting scholar to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (2000), City University of Hong Kong (2004) and the Carl von Linde Akademie in Germany (2005).
  • Professor Cummins is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies. In 2005 he was designated ‘Expert of International Standing in Quality of Life Research’ by the Australian Research Council College of Experts. In 2004 he was the primary author awarded ‘Best Paper Published in Social Indicators Research 2003’ and in that same year, along with research colleagues and staff from Australian Unity, won the Victorian Public Health Award for Capacity Building Excellence awarded by the Victorian Department of Human Services.
  • In 2000, Professor Cummins founded the Australian Centre on Quality of Life as a virtual centre within Deakin University. It is designed as a resource for students and researchers. The Centre is listed by Google as the premier site for ‘Quality of life’, it has about 500 members, receives about 100 000 hits per year and is accessed at no cost to the user.
  • Supervising postgraduate students is a major area of Professor Cummins’ responsibility, together with teaching psychopharmacology. In 1998 he received a ‘Highly Commended’ award for postgraduate supervision from the Deakin University Postgraduate Association and in 2004 he received the ‘Faculty Academic of the Year’ award from the Deakin University Student Association.
  • Professor Cummins has published over 200 books, book chapters, papers and reports. These receive about 130 citations each year and his lifetime citations exceed 1500. He is a popular speaker, giving 40–50 papers to meetings each year, and well over 100 media interviews.
  • Current research activities and other responsibilities include:
    • Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Happiness Studies and Board Member on six other journals.
    • Chief researcher on the Australian Unity Wellbeing Project.
    • President, International Society for Quality of Life Studies.
    • External Academic Advisor, Master of Social Science, City University of Hong Kong.
    •  Research Grant Assessor for the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia and New Zealand) and the Research Council (Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan).
Martin Mulligan
  • Panellist: Associate Professor Martin Mulligan (RMIT University)
  • About the panellist: Associate Professor Martin Mulligan is the Deputy Director of RMIT University’s Globalism Research Centre. Before joining the Globalism Research Centre in 2004, Dr Mulligan worked for ten years in the innovative Social Ecology program at the University of Western Sydney where he developed new courses in areas related to ecological thinking and environmental education. During this time he conducted the research for a book titled Ecological Pioneers: A Social History of Australian Ecological Thought and Action co-authored with Prof. Stuart Hill and published by Cambridge University Press (2001). This book was nominated for both the NSW Premier’s Prize for history writing and the Queensland Premier’s Prize for history writing. With Professor William Adams of Cambridge University, he collected and edited a volume of writings published under the title Decolonizing Nature: Strategies for Conservation in a Post-Colonial Era by Earthscan (London, 2003). Dr Mulligan is interested in ways of deepening discourses on sustainability through the promotion of ‘ecological literacy’ and in exploring how a deeper ‘sense of place’ can bring together concerns for the environmental and social sustainability of local communities. In particular, he is interested in how Australians might rethink their attitudes to water, by ‘re-immersing’ themselves in the hydrological cycle. Ecological Pioneers was dedicated to the memory of the great Australian poet and conservationist Judith Wright, who died just before it was published, and Dr Mulligan subsequently worked for more than three years to organise a festival that would celebrate and extend her legacy. Held in March 2005, the Two Fires Festival of Arts and Activism attracted around 1,000 participants and it featured an impressive list of leading Australian writers, musicians, film-makers, activists and scholars. More than 20 of these prominent people are contributing to a book that will explore Judith Wright’s legacy on the interplay between art and activism (currently under consideration by Cambridge University Press). Dr Mulligan also has a long-term association with Sri Lanka and he is working on a proposal for a collaboration with researchers at Ruhuna University in southern Sri Lanka on how local communities are recovering from the devastating impacts of the tsunami. 
Jane-Frances Kelly
  • Panellist: Jane-Frances Kelly (Grattan Institute)
  • About the panellist: Jane-Frances is the director of the Cities Program at the Grattan Institute in Melbourne. Prior to this role, she spent three years in the British Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. She has led strategy work for the UK, Queensland, Victorian and Commonwealth governments. She has also worked for the University of Melbourne’s Vice-Chancellor, the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police and Noel Pearson at the Cape York Institute.