Words by CEPAR Director John Piggott
Emeritus Professor Hal Kendig died early this month, on Sunday June 3, 2018, following a long illness. He was 70. He approached his illness with grace, humour, and courage; those of us who were in touch with him in recent times were greatly impressed with his fortitude.
Hal is known internationally for his outstanding contribution to social gerontology and his leadership of major research programs and collaborations in ageing and population ageing. The first time the term "population ageing" was recorded in Hansard, in 1986, it was in reference to a paper of Hal's. He was prominent in policy debate, both in Australia and internationally, for many years and was an active contributor to public policy. He led major research programs while having senior management responsibilities as a Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney (to 2005) and then as National Convenor of the ARC/NHMRC Research Network in Ageing Well (to 2010).
Hal was involved in CEPAR since it was first conceived at the turn of the century, and contributed to its development in major ways, devising a program of research focused on the health, socio-economic, and policy aspects of individual and population ageing. With his extensive experience leading multidisciplinary teams, Hal was a key figure in CEPAR’s first successful bid in 2010, introducing both Kaarin Anstey and Bob Cumming to the Chief Investigator group, and James Nazroo as a Partner Investigator. Following his retirement from ANU, we appointed him as an Honorary Professor in CEPAR.
Building on his Research Network experience, Hal deepened the Centre’s collaborations with governments and national peak bodies in ageing and related research translation and dissemination. He developed and applied Centre research evidence in building partnerships with health and aged care policy-makers as well as national peak bodies such as National Seniors Association and Aged and Community Services Australia. Through his extensive international networks, he played a key role in facilitating connections with international organisations in ageing and strengthening research collaborations with outstanding researchers in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Hal made a major contribution to Centre management and strategy, particularly in the realm of policy engagement. Among other notable CEPAR-based achievements, he initiated and organised the 2014 ASSA Annual Symposium on Population Ageing. Its proceedings were later published in book form by ANU Press.
Hal published widely in the leading international journals in the ageing field, and was one of the most highly cited Australian social gerontologists. His knowledge and expertise were frequently sought by the Australian Government.
Hal provided mentorship to many throughout his career, and was especially active in mentoring PhD students. The Emerging Researchers in Ageing (ERA) initiative, for which he secured core funding under the Ageing Well network, continues to be supported by CEPAR.
We award a prize each year for the best PhD thesis to be completed by a CEPAR-affiliated student, and with his family’s agreement, we have named this the Hal Kendig Prize.
Hal was a great colleague and friend to many – he will be badly missed.