General objective

The Pre-conditions of Well-being project aims to develop a platform of public policy measures conducive to allowing Australians to thrive.


Although there are innumerable centres of expertise in the multitude of specialist fields relevant to health and well-being:

  • many centres of expertise reside in disciplinary silos;
  • many centres of expertise are sectoral and obliged to advance the interests of their sector:
  • policy responsibility in health and well-being is distributed between national, state and local governments – and international;
  • entities that supply the public goods that underpin well-being are widely underfunded and underpowered; and are cowed by governments’ fear of debt-and-deficit rhetoric;
  • there are very few forums able to foster dialogue across the disciplinary, sectoral and jurisdictional boundaries.

There is therefore a role for an independent scholarly body with multi-lateral policy expertise in this arena as the issues require the application of scientific method with its focus on causation. The project is intended to expand beyond the traditional role of a scientific academy in producing and publishing information to the identification of the core reasons why scientific and medical knowledge is not embedded more thoroughly into public policy and public budgets, and suggesting how these problems could be overcome.


Only 20-30% of Australian families eat an adequate quantity of fruit and vegetables each day.

Initial strategy

To develop recognition and momentum, the platform will be built up incrementally by a series of opinion pieces, nominally 1000 words each, submitted to The Mandarin online newsletter, outside the paywall. Any member of any Australian Royal Society may draft an article. To validate articles, an Editorial Panel has been established comprising representatives of the Royal Societies of Australia and several individual Royal Societies. All articles are referred to the Editorial Panel for peer review.

In due course the articles may be aggregated into a monograph, or some other format. They may also be source material for press releases or policy submissions by the Royal Societies of Australia or any one Society.

Foundational principles

While scholarly independence must be granted to all authors, some principles must be accepted in order to avoid internal paralysis:

  • the project will be partisan-neutral;
  • the initiative will aim ultimately to produce policy recommendations, so each element will be conducive to drawing policy implications;
  • policy will be orientated towards the public interest as differentiated from sectoral interest, commercial interest or partisan interest; in particular, the writings will identify market failures not likely to be addressed by neoliberal economic orthodoxy (as market neoliberalism cannot adequately explain how to deliver the public goods essential to human development);
  • the initiative will aim to cross sectoral boundaries by incorporating evidence from all relevant disciplines;
  • the human body is fundamentally a biological entity upon which sociological and economic forces are superimposed. Metaphysical influences are not excluded but are difficult to capture by scientific method, so will not be a major feature of the model.

Overall outcomes are, desirably, identification of issues of government and market failure and deficits in leadership, with recommended remedies.