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Harold Leroy (Hal) Kendig (1948–2018)

from Life Celebrations: ANU Obituaries 2000-2021 (ed. by James Fox), Australian National University

Hal Kendig, by Stuart Hay, 1986

Hal Kendig, by Stuart Hay, 1986

ANU Archives, ANUA 226

Professor [Hal] Kendig is known internationally for his lifelong contribution to the sociology of ageing and has led national and international research collaborations into the social determinants of healthy ageing, and in reforms related to health service and aged care policy. Such was his impact in this area that the first Hansard reference to ‘population ageing’ in the House of Representatives is attributed to a citation by the Member for Scullin, the Hon. Henry (Harry) Jenkins of Professor Kendig’s work ‘Greying Australia: Future Impacts of Population Ageing’ with his colleague John McCallum, over three decades ago.

Although Professor Kendig re-joined our university with an established reputation six years ago as a Professor of Ageing and Public Policy at the Centre for Ageing, Health and Well-being, and as Emeritus Professor in his retirement, his association with ANU goes back a long way. Indeed, Professor Kendig relocated to ANU and Canberra with his young family from the US more than 40 years ago.

After a productive period at the ANU Research School of Social Sciences, Professor Kendig went on to become director of the newly established Lincoln Gerontology Centre for Teaching and Research at La Trobe University with chairs in the Schools of Behavioural Health Sciences and Public Health. From 1998, Professor Kendig relocated to the University of Sydney where he held several important positions, notably as Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences between 1998 and 2005. Despite the increasing burden of university managerial duties, Professor Kendig continued to maintain a strong research focus as Professor of Health and Ageing (2005–12) and most notably as National Convenor of a joint ARC/NHMRC Research Network in Ageing Well (2005–10) and Chief Investigator on the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (2012–17) leading the ageing well and productively research strand and collaborating on attitude on ageing and integrated health and aged care services.

Indeed, throughout his academic career, Professor Kendig led and was involved with several well-recognised research projects that continue to inform our knowledge and policy related to healthy ageing and aged care, most notably with the 22-year Melbourne Longitudinal Study of Healthy Ageing, the Australian Attitudes on Ageing Survey, and the Life Histories and Health Survey to mention just a few, but culminating most recently with an ARC grant on ‘Ageing in China and Australia: Promoting health, productivity and well-being’ with long-time collaborators.

In recognition of his contribution, Professor Kendig’s work attracted multiple accolades including fellowship of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Honorary Life Member and Distinguished Member for Outstanding Service from the Australian Association of Gerontology, Foundation Fellow of the Australasian Epidemiological Association, and a Prime Ministerial Invitation to the 2020 Summit ‘A Long Term National Health Strategy’. Internationally, Professor Kendig’s work has positively influenced on the policies that impact on the health and well-being of individuals, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, and which was recognised in 2015 with the Chairman’s Award for outstanding contribution to the development of gerontology and service to the Asia/Oceania region from the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics. In the past three decades, Professor Kendig contributed to promoting regional and international agenda on ageing and health, notably through the United Nations expert group leading Global Research Agenda on Ageing for the 21st Century, the World Health Organization Global Programme for Health of the Elderly, the Asia-Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policy, and United Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific.

Through his contribution to academia at ANU, and in Australia more broadly, Professor Kendig has provided leadership and mentorship to many of this nation’s best and brightest medical and health researchers such that his influence in the education, research and policy of health and aged care will continue through the work of his colleagues and students.

Professor Kendig was held in high regard by his friends and colleagues across the University and beyond, but in particular with staff and students in the Research School of Population Health. Amongst his senior colleagues he was a valued peer, friend and confidant, and for so many students, junior and mid-career academics Hal was an inspiring and generous mentor. Hal will be dearly missed by all of us.

* Originally published by the Research School of Population Health, ANU.

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Citation details

'Kendig, Harold Leroy (Hal) (1948–2018)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/kendig-harold-leroy-hal-32736/text40700, accessed 22 July 2024.

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