Vale Professor Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith portraitAnthony Smith, who died in November 2012, was one of the pre-eminent scholars in sexuality research on both the national and international stage and a founding staff member of ARCSHS. He was chief investigator on the Australian Study of Health and Relationships (the Australian ‘Kinsey’ as it is sometimes known) first conducted in 2002 and in 2012 being undertaken for a second time, and its partner study the Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships. He also headed up the team that conducted the five-yearly surveys of Secondary Students and Sexual Health with 16 and 18 year-olds around Australia. These three data sets are the foundation upon which evidence-based sexual health promotion, education and service delivery are developed. It is impossible to overstate the impact that this work had on sexual health policy in Australia over the past decade.

Anthony began his research career in zoology by completing a PhD on crocodiles, but his community engagement and advocacy activities drew him in another direction. He was President of the Northern Territory AIDS Council at that time and became Vice-President of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations in the early 1990s. In these roles, he saw the urgent need for sexual health research and came to value research that made a difference to people’s lives.

Anthony joined La Trobe University in February 1993 as part of the Centre for the Study of STDs (later ARCSHS) and by 2005 had secured a Personal Chair in Sex, Health and Society in the Centre where he worked as a Deputy Director from 2002 until 2011. He carried out research that was both rigorous and ethical, and emphasised these values in his teaching and mentoring of others. He leaves an enormous legacy, having held numerous nationally competitive grants, published over 300 journal articles, co-edited a book and collaborated with around 65 other academics on his various research projects. His work has been cited more than 3000 times by researchers all over the world.

He never abandoned the community connections that informed his work and was very committed to putting his research into practice, becoming an intrinsic part of the ARCSHS teams engaged in practice projects. He was always open to approaches from community organisations for information and support and was widely respected in this arena too.

Anthony was working on his many research projects up until the day before his death and is keenly missed by everyone at ARCSHS where we are committed to ensure his legacy continues.