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Director's message

John Piggott CEPAR Director UNSW economist

Scientia Professor John Piggott AO, CEPAR Director, UNSW Sydney

The major focus for CEPAR over the past months has been our International Conference. We organised one of these in the first round of CEPAR, back in 2013, and had planned the second in 2020, but COVID dictated postponement.

Four world-class keynote speakers – covering topics as diverse as time transfers between generations, financial decision making and financial exploitation vulnerability in older age, the impact of retirement on individual well-being, and the costs and benefits of long-term care insurance – all did a great job of pitching their presentations so that they were accessible across disciplines while retaining rigour.

Three panel sessions featuring academics and stakeholders drawn from industry, government and the community generated lively discussions on three big issues: Australian migration policy; macroeconomic risk and demographic change; and the implications for research, policy and practice of a feminising and ageing workforce. All three panel sessions were live-streamed at the time and are now available on the CEPAR website.

Academic conferences based around issues with multiple disciplinary perspectives are always risky because discipline-based academics can be prone to seeing limited returns to their own academic relevance. So, I was very pleased that we had over 140 registrations and that more than half of these were external. This is a testament not only to the relevance of CEPAR research and researchers, but also to the importance of the issue.

In fact, many non-academics registered for the whole conference, from both government and industry, further evidence that the issue is gaining some immediate traction. There was also a good vibe – participants from widely differing backgrounds interacted with enthusiasm and openness throughout the three days. It is my hope that these interactions will generate future multidisciplinary collaborations.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the conference’s Scientific Advisory Committee, led by Hazel Bateman, who did a terrific job of putting together such an engaging program and CEPAR’s outstanding professional staff who were responsible for the excellent organisation of the conference.

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