Notice of Closure
It is with great sadness that I report the closure of Future Directions International, the Perth based not-for-profit research institute that was established in 2000 by then retiring State Governor, Major General Michael Jeffery AC, CVO, MC, who would soon become Governor General of Australia. Together with a small group of leading Western Australians, including Sir Charles Court, who shared a belief that there was a need for such an organisation, not dissimilar to several that were being established in the eastern states at that time, FDI would identify, research and promote a broad mandate of issues.
Through this process, FDI would attempt to ensure that those who have the authority and responsibility to prepare for the future consider the outlook and policies that our nation will need. This was to enable our children and their children to be better prepared to handle a range of challenges that showed every indication of being more confronting.
Demographic fatigue, the impact of an impending global food and water crisis, a changing climate, rising global economic and social inequality and the replacement of workers by technology, particularly in developing economies, are all areas of serious and immediate concern.
At its height, before Covid-19, FDI continued to expand with up to 12 staff, who identified topics, conducted research, liaised with associates (who also undertook research), and identified who should receive the product. On average, up to 15 interns would attend FDI annually, usually on one day per week, for one semester, together with a number of volunteers.
In October 2021, more than 20,000 people read FDI’s product each week, resulting in over 120,000 page views, including substantial interest from India, Pakistan and the United States. Its product was received directly by over 8,000 subscribers and much use was made of its research by students. In recent years, it produced several hundred articles with many being published in respected overseas journals. It has extensive links with overseas institutes and over a hundred academics, researchers and subject matter experts contribute to its product.
FDI has increasingly been sought by government departments and others to prepare and manage conferences and to represent the government at meetings. In the last few years, for instance, it has hosted the Indian Ocean Dialogue, two 1.5-Track Meetings with India and Australia and its CEO was nominated to be Australia’s representative at the T-20 Meeting in Mumbai.
In recent years, the CEO was invited for a week to visit Japan as a guest of the Japanese Department of Foreign Affairs and to spend two week-long visits to China as part of the Australia China Business Association and a meeting arranged by a Chinese business associate. He has also visited Rwanda as a member of the Australian Davos Connection and has twice been hosted in Indonesia by then Presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto.
FDI’s work is unique for two reasons.
It seeks to consider the future, usually with analysis covering a period of 25 to 50 years. This requires it to analyse what is happening today and to consider what the implications of today’s events will be for the future.
It also seeks to identify who should receive its product, noting that such people should be aware of FDI’s research because, through that, it has helped to influence high-level policy formulation and implementation.
Until recently, FDI needed $80K monthly to run the Institute which had a staff to 10 to 12 analysts, together with 15 interns and a number of volunteers.
The impact of Covid-19, however, has changed FDI’s approach considerably. FDI considered closing in early 2021 and reviewed a number of options, none of which proved viable.
The passing of our founder, General Jeffery, late last year was also a major blow to its continuation. Through his many contacts and wide engagement in a number of issues, he was a major link to potential donors as well as being an inspiration to staff.
Therefore, on the advice of FDI’s Board, this will be the last correspondence issued by the institute.
I wish to thank all our readers over many years, our range of benefactors who have contributed and all those who have written for us, provided advice and encouraged us to continue for as long as possible.