Frank Fisher Memorial
Biography of Frank Fisher 1943-2012
Professor Frank Fisher was the Inaugural Australian Environmental Educator of the Year in 2007, in recognition of three decades of pioneering work. Much of that time was as Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Geography and Environmental Science at Monash University near Melbourne.
He was the first Lecturer in its pioneering Masters program in Environmental Science in 1978. That program would go on to transform a generation of graduates, with Frank at the helm for most of its 25 years.
He also developed several other initiatives in that time. This included being founder and director of the Centre for Innovation in Waste Management. The centre drove projects such as Litter As Advertising, and the pilot Pay By Weight waste collection scheme in the City of Melbourne. These projects gained extensive media coverage, and inspired new ways of thinking about and dealing with so-called 'waste'.
Frank then spent eight influential years at Swinburne University of Technology, as Convenor of Graduate Programs at the National Centre for Sustainability, and as Professor of Sustainability in the Faculty of Design.
He was also renowned for his commuter cyclist courses, geared towards improving road safety for city cyclists, and other road users. This was not just dealing with the mechanics of cycling, though they're important. The approach was based on developing more systemic understandings of efficiency, convenience, and safety. Understanding energy, people and road dynamics was at the heart of not just achieving safer roads, but better societies generally.
Frank also initiated the first inland wind farm in Victoria at Challicum Hills in 2003. With 35 turbines it was the largest wind farm in Australia when completed. And he also served on hundreds of boards, advisory groups and committees - around 20 at any given time.
Having started his adult life as an electrical engineer with multi-national energy companies, Frank was transformed by the experience of chronic illness, the kindness of others in response, and the civic and environmental movements of the 1970s. He became committed to social transformation to a more sensitive, self-aware world, and renowned as an academic that walked the talk. His life was a visible demonstration that looking after our individual wellbeing happens in the context of looking after each other, and the rest of nature.
A special 8 minute tribute was produced by friend and journalist, Alexandra de Blas (pictured left), for Science Extra on Radio National, and aired on 20 January 2013. It was announced by another long-term friend and host of The Science Show, Robyn Williams.
"Professor of Sustainability Frank Fisher has spent the better part of his life advocating for a more sustainable and compassionate society. I expect anyone who has met Frank during his past eight years at Swinburne would agree he is a person who resolutely 'walks the talk'. I had the pleasure of meeting with Frank last year. I was immediately struck by his commitment and his integrity."
Professor Linda Kristjanson, Vice Chancellor, Swinburne University
To read more, click here.
"Professor Fisher has been a leader for thought and action, helping Swinburne Faculty of Design to do the slow, vital work of embedding sustainability across our entire curriculum. He is an evangelist for doing the right thing, helping us to rise above our limits to achieve real change. The real challenge is a commitment to doing simple but necessary things, making reasonable but tough choices when tough choices are not easy."
Professor Ken Friedman, former Dean of the Faculty of Design, Swinburne University
"Professor Fisher is well known for his dedication to educating others and sustainable living. He has an international reputation for his teaching, theory, writing and many publications. He was named Australia's inaugural Environmental Educator of the Year in 2007."
Swinburne University of Technology
To read the In Memoriam page on Swinburne's website, with a great story written by Narelle Hanratty, click here.
"Over two hours people’s attention was gripped and their commitment to environmental science and sustainable outcomes was explored. Frank responded to questions with humour, wisdom, and a fierce determination to encourage people to engage with the environment in their daily lives, across cultures and across generations."
Kate Auty, former Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, on Frank's last public appearance at Federation Square, Melbourne (see below for the video)
"Colleagues at the Swinburne faculty of design remember Frank's response to a bold message that appeared in the staff kitchen with instructions to ''clean up your own mess and do your own dishes''. A graffiti-style note quickly appeared, reading: 'We are all vulnerable at different times in our lives and need people to look after us, so what's wrong with cleaning up for others sometimes?'''
From the obituary written by Tim Fisher, Frank's eldest son, and published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald
To read more, click here.