Act and Rules

The Royal Society of NSW originated in 1821 as the “Philosophical Society of Australasia”. After an interval of informal activity, it was revived in 1850 as the “Australian Philosophical Society” and was known by this name until 1856, when its name was changed to the “Philosophical Society of New South Wales”. In 1866, by sanction of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, it assumed its present name. The Society was incorporated by an Act of the Parliament of New South Wales in 1881.

Formal ‘Regulations’ were adopted at the second meeting of the Philosophical Society of Australasia held on 4 July 1821. A set of ‘Fundamental Rules’ and ‘By-laws’ were published at the time of the creation of the Royal Society of NSW in 1866/7. Revisions of these Rules and By-laws were published in 1870, 1875/6, 1900, 1912, 1943 and 1968, with subsequent minor amendments.

The Rules and By-laws under which the Society has recently operated were approved at an Annual General Meeting on 19 November 2003 and amended on several occasions thereafter. A review of the Rules and Bylaws, undertaken during 2020, removed inconsistencies and redundancies and brought them up to date, given the significant increase in membership of the Society and advances in technology since 2003. These Rules, incorporating the By-laws, were approved by the membership of the Society at the Ordinary General Meeting held on 9 December 2020.

Although the Rules that were approved in 2020 worked well, the Council reviewed them in 2023 to ensure they continued to meet the needs of the Society and its members and that they reflected contemporary governance practice. In accordance with Rule 32(b) the recommended changes were put to members with voting conducted by electronic ballot which commenced on Monday 23 January 2023 at noon and closed on Monday 13 February 2023 at noon. The current Rules take effect from noon on 13 February 2023.

The Act of Incorporation and the Rules, as approved at the close of the electronic ballot at noon on 13 February 2023, are shown here: Act and Rules (PDF).

Strategic Plan

The Royal Society of NSW is an inclusive learned institution that encompasses a diverse group of people who are dedicated to ideas that matter. It draws together people who span and cross a wide range of disciplines and knowledge, creates a focus for sharing and applying expertise, and delivers an independent and authoritative voice. Valuing the notion of the public intellectual, the Society encourages its Members and Fellows to speak out on important issues that shape the future of NSW and the nation. It is a collegiate enterprise, providing a meeting place for people with common interests in advancing knowledge and contributing to a better future.

The 2021-23 Strategic Plan of the Society, approved by the Council on 4 February 2021, builds upon the directions of previous plans while also responding to the imperatives of today’s upheavals. The plan articulates an inclusive and progressive vision, refines the mission, and sharpens the initiatives required to enhance the relevance of the Society’s contribution to our modern state and nation.

The strategic plan is based on a vision of enriching lives through knowledge and inquiry for a mission of contributing to a just, secure, and sustainable society.

Society Policies

In accordance with Rule 29, the Council of the Society may from time-to-time formulate policies on any relevant subject matter and publish these on the website.

The current policies are listed below:

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