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Science presenter and journalist Robyn Williams AM explains why he feels compelled to support the second oldest "science research outfit in Australia".
When Robyn leaves the planet, he’ll also be leaving a gift to the Australian Museum. Here he explains why he feels compelled to support the second oldest "science research outfit in Australia".
As a radio and television journalist with numerous books to his credit, Robyn continues to prompt wide debate while maintaining a sense of intellectual enquiry and wonder about the world.
It’s a lifelong passion that naturally drew Williams to the Australian Museum, beginning with his first radio piece in the 1970s – editing an interview with [Professor] Frank Talbot, then the Museum’s Director.
"It was about coral on One Tree Island. I became firm friends with Frank, and his successor Des Griffin, as well as Hal Cogger and lots of other scientists like Tim Flannery”, Williams says. “I enjoyed their brilliance, their occasional gloom about the future, and their total commitment to their work, the focal point of all their lives."
He cemented his connection with the Museum in 1984 when he joined the Trust, becoming President in 1986, a position he held for eight years. He retains the title "President Emeritus" of the Trustees to this day. He received the Order of Australia for service to science in 1988 and an Honorary Doctorate in the same year.
"I’m still strongly connected to the Museum, mainly informally. I relish the Museum’s solid reputation and public role, but wish the research could receive more of the attention it deserves."
Williams is a strong advocate for the role of museums in helping to solve environmental problems such as the loss of biodiversity. "The advance of technology and its application in research makes the Museum’s collections increasingly valuable as a resource, and completely and utterly irreplaceable", he says.
"All science depends on evidence, and in biology, geology and anthropology, upon collections. We need to know what's in our region. The tropical waters to our north, for instance, are less well known than the dark side of the moon.... truly."
"Having so many species of mammals become extinct (we lead the world!) and our reefs and fisheries threatened with oblivion we need a proactive response. Our environmental future... it’s our most challenging issue today."
Williams is declaring himself a Bequest Ambassador in the hope of inspiring others to follow his lead, making a parting gift that will see his support for Museum research continue for generations to come. He also says that his bequest will not be large.
"I have tried to support the Museum in different ways over the decades. Now, in my mid-sixties, it is sensible, and not so startling in fact, to add a line to my will. After providing for my family, I’m giving a small percentage of what’s left to one of the best causes in the nation – the Australian Museum."
Many bequests will add up to something significant, and Robyn believes that is the way to make a difference.
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