Social Research Centre founder awarded inaugural AMSRO leadership award

Social Research Centre

The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations has named Social Research Centre founder Darren Pennay the winner of the inaugural Jayne Van Souwe Research Industry Leadership Award.

The award recognises Mr Pennay’s long-term contribution to the research industry, the profession and academia.

The Social Research Centre is owned by the Australian National University and provides the Australian social research community access to world-class research and evaluation services.

Mr Pennay said he was honoured to receive the award, which honours the legacy of Australian Market & Social Resarch Society Fellow Jayne Van Souwe.

“I respected her greatly, as a colleague and a person,” Mr Pennay said.

“While I’m honoured, the accomplishments the nominators noted were not mine alone — they reflect the exceptional quality of our team at the Social Research Centre.

“I’ve been fortunate to spend my career with talented methodologists and researchers who are committed to using high quality data for positive social impact.

“Producing accurate facts has become increasingly challenging over the years as technology advances and reduced trust in government have made it more challenging to conduct surveys.

“Together we have worked to predict and respond to these changes, rigorously testing new methods and bringing best practices to our clients and the industry.”

Mr Pennay has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry and heads the panel for the Inquiry into the Performance of the Opinion Polls at the 2019 Australian Federal Election (the AMSRO Polling Inquiry).

He is an expert survey methodologist and has worked in social research and survey design since 1984. From 2010 to 2015, Mr Pennay played a lead role in the introduction of dual-frame telephone surveys to Australia.

He was also key in establishing Australia’s first probability-based online panel Life in AustraliaTM. In 2014, he was awarded the Research Industry Council of Australia’s Research Effectiveness Award for Innovation and Methodology. He is an Adjunct Professor with the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR), a co-founder of the ANU Centre for Social Research Methods, a Fellow of the Australian Market and Social Research Society and has QPMR (Qualified Practicing Market Researcher) accreditation.

The Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO) is the peak body for Australia’s market and social research, data and insights organisations.

The Jayne Van Souwe Research Industry Leadership Award was introduced this year to pay tribute to those professionals who have dedicated significant time, energy and expertise on behalf of the wider research community.

Award judges said the lineup of nominees was exceptional, with all five research industry leaders having made a significant and long-term contribution to the growth, promotion and advancement of the Australian research, data and insights industry.

Nicola Hepenstall, one of three judges and former AMSRO President, said: “It was a real privilege to work on this project and to have such an impressive, talented group of individuals who have all given so much to our industry over many years. Of course, the decision was very close, however in the end it was Darren’s work in the academic space and its long-lasting impact on research around the globe that we felt should be recognised.”

AMSRO has been promoting and protecting the research industry in Australia for almost 30 years, including obtaining Australia’s first and only industry privacy code and obtaining research industry exemption from the ‘Do Not Call’ Register. These protections and successes could not have been achieved without the voluntary efforts of people who care not only about their own business but about the entire industry.

AMSRO Executive member Craig Young said: “The thriving research, data and insights industry that exists in Australia today has been built on the activities and efforts of individuals who, over the past 50 years, have devoted their time and energy to building businesses, lobbying government and advancing our research practices to drive the industry forward.

“As the industry increasingly embraces technology, digitisation and automation, it is important that we continue to recognise and value the critical contributions that people make to ensuring that data and analyses are accurate, timely and relevant.”

/Public Release.