Research Committee

Peter Scanlon AO (Chair)

Mr Scanlon is the Chair and founder of Taverners Group, a private family company with a range of diversified businesses and investments. He has held numerous board positions in public companies, including Director and Chair of Patrick Corporation (1991 – 2007). Chair of Wormald International (1993 – 1995) and Deputy Chair of AFP Corporation (1989 -1998). He was an AFL Commissioner (1984 – 1993). He was Chairman of the TAB from 1993 to 1995, setting up the transition from public to private ownership. 

Mr Scanlon was Chair of the Migration Council Australia and a Director of the Grattan Institute. The Migration Council Australia (MCA) is an independent non-partisan not-for-profit body established to enhance the productive benefits of Australia’s migration and humanitarian programs. The Grattan Institute is an independent think tank dedicated to developing high quality public policy for Australia. 

Peter Scanlon is also the Chair of the Scanlon Foundation. The Foundations primary focus is fostering social cohesion. The foundation funds a range of activities, including social survey research into attitudes to migration and projects to promote the participation of new migrants. He is also Chair/Director of Community Hubs Australia and Chair/Director of the Scanlon Foundation Research Institute Limited.

In 2016 Mr Scanlon was made an Honorary Fellow of the Monash University and awarded Alumni of Distinction Outstanding Achievement Award from Melbourne University

Professor Andrew Markus (Monash University)

Andrew Markus is Emeritus Professor in Monash University’s School of International, Historical and Philosophical Studies.  Since 2004 he has been a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.  His research specialisation is in the field of racial and ethnic relations, ethnic communities, and immigration policy. He is the author or co-author of more than one hundred academic articles, book chapters, reference works, and reports, and of fourteen books, including Fear and Hatred: Purifying Australia and California, 1850-1901 (1979); Australian Race Relations 1788 – 1993 (1994); The Struggle for Aboriginal Rights (with Bain Attwood, 1999); Building a New Community: Immigration and the Victorian Economy (2001); Australia’s Immigration Revolution (with Peter McDonald and James Jupp, 2009); and Second Chance: A History of Yiddish Melbourne (with Margaret Taft, 2018).

Professor Markus has extensive experience researching Australian public opinion. In 1988 he was commissioned to prepare a report on ‘How Australians see each other’ for the Fitzgerald Committee which advised the Hawke government on immigration policy. His first survey of Australian attitudes towards immigrants was conducted in south-east Melbourne in the 1990s. He has led two national surveys on attitudes within the Jewish community; the first, which included some 200 questions, was conducted in 2007-08 and was completed by 4,100 respondents, the second in 2017 was completed by 8,600.  

In an Australian first, Professor Markus is tracking changes in Australian attitudes in the Scanlon Foundation national social cohesion survey, which was first conducted in 2007. In addition to the annual Scanlon Foundation surveys, research has explored attitudes within segments of the community, including neighbourhoods and regions, third generation Australians, and recent immigrant arrivals.  The Australia@2015 project included a survey conducted in 20 languages, completed by more than 10,000 respondents, and more than fifty focus groups conducted in four states.

Surveys have also been undertaken for federal and state government departments. His commissioned report for the Victorian Research Institute on Social Cohesion on protests in Bendigo to the proposed building of a mosque, ‘Division in Bendigo: Mainstream public opinion and responses to public protest in Bendigo, 2014-2016’, was completed in 2018.

In 2019 Professor Markus with Associate Professor Dharmalingam Arunachalam and Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett was the recipient of an ARC Discovery Grant to deepen understanding of cross-cultural and cross-religious marriages and partnerships in Australia. 


Chancellor Professor Peter Shergold AC (Western Sydney University) and Chair of the Applied Social Cohesion Research component of the Institute. 

Peter Shergold became a CEO in the Australian Public Service (APS) in 1987, working with Prime Ministers and ministers from both sides of politics for two decades. His first job was to establish the Office of Multicultural Affairs. From 1991 he headed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and from July 1994 he was Chief Executive Officer of Comcare. He was appointed Australian Public Service Commissioner from September 1995 to February 1998. He served as Secretary of the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business from 1998 until 2002 and then became the Secretary of the Department of Education, Science and Training. In February 2003, Peter served as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.  He did so for 5 years. He managed the transition to government of the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, leaving the APS in February 2008.

Peter was made a Member in the Order of Australia (AM) for public service on Australia Day 1996 and was presented with the Centenary Medal in 2003. In 2007, he received Australia's highest award, the Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) for service to the community.


Professor Peter MacDonald AM (Melbourne University)

Peter MacDonald is the Professor of Demography, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the Centre for Health Policy at The University of Melbourne. Prior to this, he was Professor of Demography in the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. He was also President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) for the years 2010-2013, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

He is frequently consulted on the issue of population futures (causes, consequences and policies) by governments around the world, especially in Australia, Europe and East Asia. In 2008, he was appointed as a Member in the Order of Australia. He is Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research.


Henry Sherrell

Henry Sherrell is a researcher with the Parliament of Australia Library. He has been a Research Officer at the Development Policy Centre. His research focuses on migration and labour mobility.
Henry has a background in immigration policy, having worked at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Migration Council Australia, as well as an adviser in Federal politics. He holds a Master of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University.


James Button

James Button is a regular narrator for the publication the ‘Narrative’, the key output from the Scanlon Foundation Institute for Applied Social Cohesion Research. His extensive knowledge in the area of migration, multiculturalism and diversity has been essential in ensuring the communication of complex concepts has been well received. 

James was a journalist at The Age for 20 years, including three years as Europe correspondent, and roles as deputy editor, opinion editor and senior writer. He has won three Walkley Awards for feature writing. In 2009 he was a speechwriter for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and for the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran.


Karen Block

Karen Block is Associate Director of the Child and Community Wellbeing Program at the Centre for Health Equity in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. She is also the Academic Lead of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute’s research program on migration and social cohesion. Karen has worked extensively in the area of migration studies, exploring the relationship and dynamics between host communities and migrants and the complex ways in which this interaction affects health, integration, inclusion and social cohesion. Her research has strengthened understandings of factors supporting wellbeing and inclusion for refugee and migrant populations and influenced policy and practice.


Kate Reynolds 

Kate Reynolds is a Professor of Psychology at the Australian National University (ANU). Her research addresses group processes and intergroup relations and it is informed by a social identity perspective. She is interested in broad research questions about the impact of groups and group norms on individuals’ attitudes, well-being and behaviour. Kate has published over 100 journal articles, book chapters and co-edited book volumes and her research has appeared in highly regarded scientific journals and has received attention from the media. She is currently involved in a large scale inter-disciplinary study on social cohesion, diversity and integration, which looks to better understand social cohesion and how to strengthen it by working closely with public policy, social and business enterprises, local government and community organisations.


Val Colic-Piesker

Val Colic-Peisker is an Associate Professor (sociology) in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Prior to joining RMIT in 2007, she worked at Monash and Murdoch universities and the University of Western Australia. Val’s research interests centre around notions of ethnicity, race, identity, community and class. She has written extensively on topics such as labour and the residential integration of immigrants to Australia, the development of Australian multiculturalism and urban diversity and homeownership. Val regularly presents at national and international conferences and workshops and serves as a reviewer for Australian and international academic journals and research funding bodies.