The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Ltd
by Iraphne Childs
Geography in Australian universities
As RGSQ President, I’m fortunate to be able to represent the RGSQ at the meetings of the Australian Academy of Sciences National Committee for Geographical Sciences (NCGS). During the most recent NCGS teleconference, on 20 February, it was decided to send a letter to all Australian University Vice-Chancellors entitled “Responding to Australia’s current crises: Geography’s place” - emphasising the contributions that Geography makes in tackling the challenges of our environment and society – a timely reminder following the weather events of the 2019-2020 summer and the impact of the coronavirus. Universities play a critical role in educating the next generation of professional geographers and in improving the geographical literacy of Australian citizens. We encourage universities to support more Geographers and Geography courses! The VCs have been provided with copies of Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future, published by the Australian Academy of Science in late 2018. Prepared by the National Committee for Geographical Sciences the report presents the state of play of Geography as a discipline in Australia and provides a unified vision for Australian geography over the next decade.
Geography and the spread of COVID-19:
In the wider world, of course, the news is full of depressing statistics and daily updates about COVID-19. Predictions of the further course of the epidemic are decisive in order to deploy targeted disease control measures. Those of you familiar with Swedish Geographer Torsten Hägerstrand’s early work on diffusion theory will recognise that this was the basis for many early epidemiological studies by medical geographers mapping the spatial-temporal diffusion of diseases.
As was presented by Dr. Thomas Sigler at our March lecture evening, the evolving field of network-based modelling is beneficial for an accurate forecast of epidemic outbreaks e.g. the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. Studies are already underway using network analysis to model the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Hubei Province, China. The network used is composed of the cities in Hubei and their interactions (e.g. traffic flow).
I hope all RGSQ members will stay safe and avoid the virus over the weeks and months ahead.
Source:WHO Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report –50.
Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future
Prasse, B. et.al (2020) Network Prediction of the 2019-CoV Epidemic Outbreak in the Chinese Province Hubei Physics and Society 12 February
Dr. Iraphne Childs, President RGSQ
I write to you on behalf of the Society’s Council, which held a meeting on 17th March. We considered our responsibilities to our members in the current public health crisis with the COVID-19 virus. While the situation is constantly changing, and we will endeavour to keep you up to date, we have made the following unanimous decisions:
We trust you will appreciate the duty of care which Council feels obliged to exercise in the current circumstances, to a membership which largely falls into the highest risk category. It is our desire to limit any risks to you, by ceasing all non-essential activities. We will continue to communicate with you during this period and look forward to getting back to normal as soon as possible. As President, I wish that you all stay well and encourage you to monitor and heed the changing medical and Government advice.
Dr Iraphne Childs, President RGSQ
Dear Fellow Members,
Our “Welcome night” on 4th February, the first members’ meeting of 2020, was well-attended and very successful. Thanks to all those members who prepared and presented updates and activities for 2020 from the various committees and special interest groups. It’s clear we have a great progam for the year ahead. I hope you can come along to the lectures and participate in some of the interesting activites and treks – you can find the whole year’s program on the RGSQ website. During the Welcome night I was particularly pleased to catch up with some members from the Sunshine Coast. We are looking at options for presenting some lectures at the University of the Sunshine Coast again and/or making lecture presentations available online from RGSQ Spring Hill.
A big thank you to all the volunteers who have helped with the first AGC mailout on 5-7 February. We couldn’t run the AGC without you!
This title is achieved through an accreditation program based with the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) in the UK. Established in 2002, a Chartered Geographer is the internationally recognised accreditation for people who apply geographical skills, knowledge and understanding and are committed to maintaining their expertise through continuing professional development. “The Chartered Geographer accreditation gives confidence to employers, customers and decision makers that the professionals who attain this status are practicing at a high level within their sector, can advise on innovative solutions and are active contributors to a vibrant international geographical community.” Andy Murdock - Chair of Chartered Geographer Final Assessors Committee. Chartered Geographers’ knowledge and skills may be in the physical, environmental, resource management, social sciences or in the humanities, and across many areas of work: in education, teaching and training, in research, in the commercial world, including consultancy, in the public sector, charitable and not-for-profit organisations and in the planning professions. Chartered Geographers must be Fellows of the RGS-IBG. Eligibility has some fairly rigorous standards and involves an annual fee. There is a Framework of Competencies and a Code of Conduct designed to help Chartered Geographers to demonstrate their expertise and experience, no matter what their career stage.
It is an interesting concept that the Institute of Australian Geographers IAG) some time ago had considered implementing for Australian Geographers but as yet has not implemented. I would expect that such accreditation should make it possible for the work and expert advice of geographers to be more widely recognised, cited and referenced in policy and strategic documents. For example, in January 2018 the UK Government’s Science and Engineering (GSE) profession announced the appointment of a new pan-government Head of Geography, David Wood, a Senior Geospatial Data Analyst and Economic Geographer. No doubt the availability and status of Chartered Geographer assisted in championing the breadth of work undertaken by geographers in the UK, recognising their contribution to analysis, delivery and policy formulation across government. Currently there are at least 12 Australian Geographers who hold the RGS-IBG Chartered Geographer accreditation. The program may be of interest and worth considering in future especially for some of our Young Geographers.
Iraphne Childs, President
invite written submissions from an Australian Geographer for the Ken Sutton Trust Memorial Award.
This award will be promoted through an endowed public lecture in Brisbane in 2020, preferably in early October, and a publication as a pinnacle activity for RGSQ.
For full selection criteria download Application Form
Submission deadline: 30 April 2020
Email submission to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiries to: email@example.com or (07) 3368 2066The winner will be notified by email/phone.
The awardee will receive support for: publication of a paper, costs associated with presenting in Brisbane and $500 prize money.
Find out more about Ken Sutton Trust and Ken Sutton.
Dear Fellow Members, welcome to 2020.
The disastrous start to the year with the devastating bushfires has affected people in so many regions, our ecosystems, wildlife and local economies. I do hope that all RGSQ members and their families have stayed safe.
As I have a professional interest in disaster management, I would like to share one aspect of the bushfire response. It is now widely recognised that resource capacity for dealing with the increasing scale and severity of natural disasters within individual countries across the Asia-Pacific necessitates greater international cooperation. In terms of fighting large-scale bushfires, we have already seen many examples of international cooperation between Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
Australia and New Zealand have long-standing reciprocal first-response exchange arrangements of disaster and emergency personnel. This has included Australian Search and Rescue personnel deployed to the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and New Zealand fire fighters to the current 2019-2020 bushfires in Australia. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged bushfire-fighting support in November 2019 and we have seen on-going contingents of NZ fire-fighters arriving from across the Tasman throughout this summer. Highlighting the scale of the catastrophic bushfires was the unwelcome gift from Australia of the smoke and ash to New Zealand which has "caramelised" the normally pristine white Tasman Glacier in early January some 3000km away from the actual burn!
Satellite imagery showing the south-east drift of smoke from Australia to New Zealand.
Source: Bureau of Meteorology 1 Jan at 10:40am.
For the past two decades, Australia, Canada and the US have exchanged personnel and equipment during major fires in their respective countries. In July 2018, around 200 Australian firefighters were deployed to the United States to help battle bushfires across the north-west of the nation. In January this year, for the first time, the NSW Rural Fire Service called upon the US for a reciprocal fire-fighting response. Canadian firefighters have left freezing conditions in their homeland to help fight Australian bushfires this summer, giving up Christmas with their families to do so. Fortunately, the Canadian and US personnel operate on similar systems to those in Australia, so the teams add value to our firefighting operations very quickly.
A major emerging issue for fire authorities in terms of international cooperation is that there are no longer very distinctive “fire seasons” in different parts of the globe. Climatic conditions are producing seasonal fire weather and conflagrations that overlap between the northern and southern hemispheres. Longer fire seasons threaten to disrupt the sharing of vital personnel and equipment. Australia could previously rely on hiring specialist water-bombing aircraft and equipment from north America during our summers. Those exchange arrangements could be strained as the combination of climate change, more droughts, high temperatures and winds and lengthening fire seasons produce more severe blazes. Critical resources may be needed at the same time in both Australia and California, for example. The lengthening of fire seasons has also meant there have been shorter and fewer safe “windows” within which to carry out controlled burning for fuel-reduction – the limitations on this being the actual drought and weather, not any restrictions placed on fuel-reduction according to fire authorities (NSW Rural Fire Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, Jan 8th 2020).
I look forward to seeing you at the RGSQ Welcome night on 4th February. We will be presenting activities for the Society’s year ahead and offering a delicious welcome supper. We will also have a raffle, so bring along your small change.
Dear Fellow Members
A CLG at last! The Society year is ending with very welcome news – on 30th October we received confirmation that, taking effect from 25th October, our registration as a Company Limited by Guarantee had been approved by ASIC. This is the culmination of a 3-year challenging process. On behalf of all members, our congratulations and thanks to Roger Grimley, Lilia Darii and Chris Spriggs for their efforts in seeing this through. Our lawyer, Heather Beckingsale, has provided legal advice pro bono throughout the process for which we are most grateful. So the RGSQ Council now constitutes a Board of Directors (although we still retain the nomenclature “Council” and “Councillors”).
UQ Students present their findings: On 17th October the UQ post-graduate students who had been researching our membership as a project for their degree, presented their report to RGSQ. A copy is available to members in the office. 100 members responded to the online survey part of the exercise. Key findings include:
Engaging with the UQ Business School has been a worthwhile exercise, incurring no cost to RGSQ and the UQ staff involved have been very good to work with. We hope to continue this association in the future.
A visit to the Museum, Lands, Mapping & Surveying: On 31st October I represented RGSQ at the opening in 317 Edward Street of the new Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying (Dept. of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy). This occasion also commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queensland’s first Surveyor General, A.C. Gregory. Links have been made for RGSQ Map group to visit the Museum which houses many items of interest used by surveyors and cartographers in bygone eras. For example, in 1919 the Harvard Observatory in Peru expressed interest in shifting its instruments to Australia and Queensland was chosen for the relocation. In 1921 the Qld Surveyor General conducted tests for the “clarity of the atmosphere” at various sites on the Darling Downs. The 4-inch Grubb Astronomical Telescope now in the museum was used for this. Although the tests were satisfactory, the transfer of the observatory to Queensland never eventuated.
The Museum also has a bust of our foundation president, Augustus Charles Gregory. Bill Kitson, who is known to many members, related the story of its acquisition. For many years the bust was held in the Gregory Masonic Lodge, Cairns. In 2018 through the efforts of John Cavill-Jones and others, the bust was entrusted to David Kirchner who arranged for the transfer of the Gregory bust to the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying in Brisbane where it is now on display.
The RGSQ Christmas Party: I look forward to seeing you at our Christmas party on December 3rd. There will be a couple of special awards and a quiz to test your geographical knowledge ! This year we will also have a raffle (tickets $2 or 3 for $5) so bring along your spare coins. On behalf of Council and Staff I extend my best wishes to all members for a happy and safe Christmas-New Year season.
Henry Tryon (b. England 1856) worked as curator at the Queensland Museum from 1883 and then joined the Queensland Department of Agriculture in 1894 where he was appointed the state’s first Government Entomologist and Plant Pathologist. Tryon was the founding Secretary of the Royal Society of Queensland and a member of RGSQ.
Tryon made several major scientific contributions to agriculture in Queensland. He was the first scientist to report upon the diseases of economic crops in Queensland (1889), warning farmers and politicians against the uncontrolled importation of plant material into Queensland. During the early 1890s, he drafted the regulations which became the Diseases in Plants Act of 1896. This legislation effectively led to the first plant-quarantine service in Queensland.
The Tryon collection held in the Museum library with RGSQ’s 1874 diary, 2nd from the left.
In 2017 one of his diaries (1874) was found in the storeroom at the Milton premises. How it got there is unknown. A search revealed that the Museum had another of his diaries (1868) amongst its Tryon Collection. Steps were then taken to transfer the diary to the Museum but delayed during RGSQ’s move to Spring Hill. The transfer was accomplished on the 4 October with the diary joining the Tryon Collection at the Museum (see the photos).
Words by Peter Lloyd and Peter Griggs
The work continues
The Tryon Diary story is just a small part of an on-going audit and assessment of the Society’s numerous artefacts and memorabilia begun by Bernard Fitzpatrick in 2015. This work included the 2017 Assessment of Significance report by Judith McKay and Bill Kitson and a detailed listing and photographing of artefacts by UQ student volunteers before the move to Fortescue Street.
The assessment and placement are now continuing and if anyone is interested in helping please contact the office.
Photos: I Childs
Handover – Iraphne Childs with Shannon Robinson, Co-ordinator, Collections & Research Resource Centre (Library), Qld Museum.
What’s happening on RGSQ Council?
The first regular meeting after the AGM of our new Council was held on Tuesday 15th October. The agenda, as always after an AGM, was a full one with many reports and matters to discuss. Here are some examples which may be of interest to members.
The Society’s Committees for the year going forward was confirmed at Council as follows:
Collections: P Griggs (Chair) J Graham, P Lloyd, P Nunan
Finance: C Spriggs (Chair), J Nowill, I Childs, I Harding, L Darii,
Honours: D Wadley (Chair), J Holmes, L Isdale, L Scanlan, D Cook
Ken Sutton Selection panel I Childs (Chair), M McIvor, A Powell (MLA)
Property: P Tonkin (Chair), N O’Connor, D Stephens
Publications: I Childs (Chair), A Lau, J Corcoran, I Harding, P Griggs
Scientific Studies: I Childs (Chair), P Moss, P Nunn, N O’Connor, K Scott, T Sigler
Traveller: L Scanlan (Chair), L Darii, S Scanlan, I Childs (ex officio)
Treks and Activities Committee: C Spriggs and W Mackenzie (Co-chairs), M Comer, A Johnston, J Lamont, B Reid
A new informal advisory group, which will meet only on an ad hoc basis, is forming up to discuss overall technology developments for RGSQ. e.g. updgrading our boardroom facilities. Members who have expressed an interest in this area are Graham Rees, John Fairbairn, Sarah Barry and Councillor John Tasker.
While most of the above committees currently have a full complement of members, we would welcome members who have an interest in and who could contribute to the Collections, Traveller and TAAC committees. If this is you, please contact the office and Lilia will put you in contact with committee chairs.
At the Council meeting reports were tabled from committee chairs for noting and discussion. This included some bright ideas for additions to the Bulletin from the newly-formed Publications committee, updates from the Scientific Studies and RGSQ Traveller committees and recommendations from the Honours committee for 2020 Thomson medal and Fellowship awards.
Property committee has been particularly active in progressing important issues associated with our facilities. For example, carpentry and electrical alterations in our kitchen, checking and re-supplying our first aid kit and finalising the Society’s workplace health and safety manual. In addition, we have been liaising with the building’s body corporate regarding fire safety matters.
Special Interest Map Group is planning activities for the coming year and Archives, Library and Map collection groups are continuing their work. Young Geographers have been active in visiting and presenting to schools and are planning an eventful year ahead with more educational, adventurous and social activities on their agenda. Members are always welcome to join and participate in any of these SIGs if they capture your interest.
The draft program for our monthly lectures in 2020 was reviewed by Council and we will be contacting prospective speakers to pin them down for dates and lecture titles. Among the exciting possible topics are remote sensing of reef systems, research on the lands of the ancient Maya in South America, impacts of feral animals in Australia and, closer to home, the BCC’s plans for developing Victoria Park in central Brisbane.
So, there is much going on behind the scenes at RGSQ. It’s clear that the new Council has energy and enthusiasm for leading a productive year ahead that will benefit the Society.
I look forward to seeing you at our Christmas party on December 3rd when there will be a couple of special awards and again a quiz to test your geographical knowledge !
Iraphne Childs, RGSQ President
Thank you to all those members who attended in the Annual General Meeting on 17th September and participated in progressing important resolutions and the election of a new Council for 2019-2020.
As you will recall from the notice of meeting in the September Bulletin, included in the business of this year’s AGM was a Special Resolution dealing with adoption of three specific clauses in the new constitution which provided a mechanism for filling office-bearer positions should there be no further nominations received from the floor at the AGM. This was needed because we are still in transition awaiting approval from ASIC for the transfer to CLG and the new constitution. At the AGM these resolutions were approved by a majority of members present. This made it possible for the newly-elected Council to meet briefly after the AGM, to appoint a President for the forthcoming Society year 2019-2020. A full list of the new Council is included later in this Bulletin.
I am honoured to have been appointed as President for another year and look forward to working with Councillors, staff and members to move our Society forward beyond the period of “transition” which has consumed our activities to a very large extent for the past two years. I will strive to focus not only on ideas of how to meet and solve problems that arise, but also to anticipate how we can engage with issues and develop enterprises for the future benefit of the Society.
In dealing with the major challenges over the past 2 years (buying & re-locating to new premises, transition to a CLG, staffing review) I personally, have not had time for some geographical initiatives that I had hoped to progress as an incoming president in 2017. I am pleased to be able to report that we have now re-established the Society’s Scientific Studies Committee and look forward to working to develop our plans in that exciting area. I also hope to re-establish our Publications committee in the near future with the goal of reviewing the roles of our current excellent Bulletin and website and providing a new platform (e.g. an online journal) for publishing geographical research both for the wider academic and professional communities. I am particularly concerned to seek a solution to continuing lecture presentations on the Sunshine Coast. One option we are investigating is how to stream lectures presented at Fortescue street to members via our website.
The incoming Council comprises an excellent balance of members with academic, business, educational and professional expertise, including both new councillors who will bring fresh ideas and perspectives and re-elected councillors who bring continuity and experience. The year ahead presents interesting tasks – What kind of RGSQ do we wish to build for the future? How should we be investing our efforts and resources to promote and support Geography? How can we increase our membership, particularly of younger people? I look forward to hearing your ideas on these, and many other matters relating to RGSQ over the coming year.
The next Members’ meeting is our Annual General Meeting on 17th September. So I would like to make here a few comments on the past year. As the Society’s representative, I have attended events and functions in which I would not normally have had a chance to participate. Being President has enabled me to meet and get to know so many members. I wish to record my sincere thanks for these opportunities and to Councillors and our dedicated office staff without whom I would not have been able to fulfil the responsibilities of the President.
The past two years has been a period of transition. The Society has overcome major challenges - the search for, and relocation to a new home, following the sale of our Milton premises in December 2017. The move to Fortescue Street took place in September 2018 and then we underwent several months of design and fitting out to make Gregory Place fit for our purposes. Finally, we were able to invite members to the Open Day on 9th April and the official opening by our patron, the Governor of Queensland on 18th July. I would like to once again thank the Gregory House committee and all volunteers and staff involved in achieving this momentous change.
The on-going process to upgrade the incorporation status of the Society has taken up an enormous amount of time and effort over the past three years. The creation of a new legal platform for the Society from Letters Patent to a Company by Limited Guarantee, and adoption of a new Constitution, was passed at a special members’ meeting on 7th May. The 63-page document required to effect this change has been submitted to the Office of Fair Trading. I commend and thank the tireless efforts of Roger Grimley, Chris Spriggs and Lilia Darii as they have ploughed through the minefield of legal and administrative procedures required to make this transition happen.
Another important change this year has been the review and restructuring by Council of our staffing. This was conducted from October 2018 in consultation with our existing staff. I believe the resolution we achieved is assisting staff in their work and will enable us to pursue more effectively the Society’s wider goals in promoting Geography in future.
In dealing with these major challenges over the past 2 years, I have had little time to progress some geographical initiatives that I had planned, particularly the renewed development of the Society’s Scientific Studies and Publications. I hope to have an opportunity to work on these in the future. I look forward to continuing my associations with RGSQ.
The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Ltd
Gregory Place, Level 1/28 Fortescue St, Spring Hill Qld 4000Tel 07 3368 2066ABN 87 014 673 068 | ACN 636 005 firstname.lastname@example.org