The Academy is governed by a Council of leaders in the humanities, elected from among our Fellows. Our Council provides strategic direction, policy guidance, and management oversight.

Office bearers

In a time when human influences are now deeply embedded in Earth’s processes, the humanities are vital to the pressing challenges of climate change and environmental repair. We all have a part to play and the Academy will be to the fore in offering its expertise.

Lesley Head


Emeritus Professor Lesley Head FASSA FAHA

Lesley was elected to Fellowship in the Academy in 2004, taking up the role of President in November 2020.

Emeritus Professor Head is currently Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne. She has contributed to international debates about relationships between society and nature and her most recent research has been on the cultural dimensions of environmental issues including climate change.

She held an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship at the University of Wollongong from 2009-14 where she was Director of the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research. She was King Carl XVI Visiting Professor in Environmental Science in Sweden from 2005-06 and was awarded the Vega Medal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography in 2015.

Emeritus Professor Head is a member of the Archaeology Section.

Learn more about Emeritus Professor Head 

Honorary Secretary & Vice-President

Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Minchin FAHA is Emeritus Professor in the College of Arts and Social Sciences at The Australian National University. She was elected to the Academy in 2010, has served as Honorary Secretary since 2014, and is a member of the Classical Studies Section.


Emeritus Professor Richard Waterhouse FRSN FASSA FAHA is Emeritus Professor, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, where he was Bicentennial Professor of Australian History until his retirement in 2011. He was elected to the Academy in 2005, became a member of Council in 2011 and has served as Treasurer since 2013. He is a member of the History Section.


Professor Louise Edwards FASSA FHKAH FAHA, Scientia Professor of Chinese History at the UNSW, she recently completed her term as the Academy’s International Secretary & Vice-President and has been re-elected to Council to take up the position of Editor. 

International Secretary

Professor Emeritus Joseph Lo Bianco AM FAHA is a former President of the Academy. He returns to take up the role of International Secretary, bringing a wealth of experience in international engagement, including language and peace building initiatives in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

Immediate Past President

Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA is Director of the Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. Joy was elected to the Academy in 2004, taking up the role of President from 2017-20. Elected to Council in 2016, she has been a member of the Academy’s Awards Committee since 2012, and served as Head of the Academy’s History Section from 2008-11.


Professor Duncan Ivison FRSN FAHA, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) and Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He was elected to the Academy in 2009 and to Council in 2019, and is a member of the Philosophy and History of Ideas Section.

Professor Jennifer Milam FAHA, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Excellence) at the University of Newcastle. She was elected to the Academy in 2018 and to Council in 2019, and is a member of The Arts Section.

Professor Ingrid Piller FAHA, Distinguished Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University. She was elected to the Academy in 2017 and to Council in 2020, and is a member of the Linguistics Section.

Distinguished Professor Julian Thomas FAHA, Professor of Media and Communication, and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, at RMIT University. He was elected to the Academy in 2017 and to Council in 2019, and is a member of the Cultural and Communication Studies Section. 

Distinguished Professor Sean Ulm FSA MAACAI FAHA, Professor of Archaeology at James Cook University and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage. He was elected to the Academy in 2015 and to Council in 2019, and is a member of the Archaeology Section. 

Past Council members

1969–71 · Emeritus Professor Sir Keith Hancock
1971–74 · Emeritus Professor Sir Joseph Burke
1974–77 · Emeritus Professor J.A. Passmore
1977–80 · Emeritus Professor B.W. Smith
1980–83 · Professor Wang Gungwu
1983–86 · Professor G.A. Wilkes
1986–89 · Professor S.A. Wurm
1989–92 · Professor G.E.O. Schulz
1992–95 · Professor D.M. Schreuder
1995–98 · Professor M.B. Clunies Ross
1998–2001 · Professor M.G.W. Gillies
2001–04 · Professor I.D. McCalman
2004–07 · Professor G. Turner
2007–09 · Professor I.E. Donaldson
2009–11 · Professor J. Lo Bianco
2011–14 · Emeritus Professor L. Johnson
2014–17 · Professor J. Fitzgerald
2017-20  · Professor J. Damousi

1969–71 · Professor K.V. Sinclair
1971–72 · Professor D.H. Pike
1973–74 · Dr F.J. West
1974–76 · Dr F.B. Smith
1976–81 · Professor E. Kamenka
1981–88 · Professor J.P. Hardy
1988–89 · Professor F.C. Jackson
1989–96 · Professor D.J. Mulvaney
1996–2000 · Professor P.R.C. Weaver
2000–14 · Professor G.W. Clarke

1969–71 · Professor D.H. Pike
1971–72 · Professor K.V. Sinclair
1973–74 · Professor W. Milgate
1973–74 · Dr F.B. Smith
1974–83 · Professor R.W.V. Elliott
1984–94 · Professor G.W. Clarke
1995–96 · Professor R.W.V. Elliott
1996–2002 · Dr A. Kumar
2002–06 · Professor S. Cunningham
2006–10 · Professor M.J.C. Finnane
2010–13 · Professor P. Sharpe

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.