ERA is an Australian initiative (with growing links in New Zealand and Asia). The initiative is administered from Monash University. The ERA National Convenor is Dr Matthew Carroll, a Senior Research Fellow in the Monash School of Rural Health, who has had a long association with ERA, having been involved in its administration since 2007 and been to each ERA conference since then. The ERA Coordinator is Courtney Hempton, a current PhD student in the ageing field who is well-placed to support our student members.
ERA is supported by a Steering Committee which includes Professor Helen Bartlett, the founder of ERA, along with senior academics responsible for previous ERA conferences, three ERA student representatives representing the diversity of the ageing research field, and a representative from the Australian Association of Gerontology Student and Early Career Group.
ERA does not charge membership fees so relies on external support. ERA core funding is provided by the ARC Centre for Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) at the University of New South Wales. With this funding in place, ERA is able to continue to grow and to develop new initiatives that will help to support capacity in ageing research in Australia. We are exploring other funding opportunities to enable ERA to continue to grow to meet the changing needs of emerging researchers.
The ERA initiative provides forums for mentoring and discussion, and disseminates information relevant to the ageing research field. Core activities include the national ERA conferences which are held each year and are hosted by ageing research centres. The ERA 2016 conference will be hosted by the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health & Wellbeing (CRAHW) located in the Research School of Population Health at the Australian National University in Canberra.
Another feature is the Virtual Seminar Series which features presentations from leading researchers and stakeholders in the field of ageing, including international nodes in New Zealand and Asia. These interactive sessions provide an essential connection point for emerging researchers across the region. Other activities include a national and international exchange program, joint webinars with the Australian Association of Gerontology, and online activities including the ERA website, Facebook page, and journal club.
The ERA initiative started in Brisbane in 2001 and grew out of an ageing research student group established by Prof Helen Bartlett who was Director of the Australasian Centre on Ageing at the University of Queensland at the time. It became apparent from the group discussions that the multidisciplinary nature of ageing research left many higher degree research students working in isolation, and lacking opportunities to come together with senior researchers to form networks and undertake collaborative endeavours. This lead to the first ERA national conference which was held at the University of Queensland in 2002.
To gain greater insight into the needs of higher degree research students in ageing, a national survey of emerging researchers in ageing was undertaken in 2005 (see Bartlett, Underwood & Peach (2007), Australasian Journal on Ageing, 26, 4, 187-193). This confirmed the need for more formal and informal networking opportunities and the securing of core funding, first from the ARC/NHMRC Research Network in Ageing Well (RNAW) in 2007 and then from CEPAR at UNSW, enabled ERA to start addressing these needs.
ERA remains committed to seeking input from its members, with a follow-up survey conducted in 2010 to evaluate the ERA initiative and seek input on future. The establishment of the ERA Student Representatives in 2013 provides another vehicle for this critical student input. We welcome any suggestions and comments can be sent to the student reps at firstname.lastname@example.org and directly to the ERA Executive at email@example.com