News & Views item - February 2010



President of CHASS, Praises Inspiring Australia: A National Strategy for Engagement with the Sciences. (February 9, 2010)

Professor Linda Rosenman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Provost of Victoria University, and president of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) has praised the report, Inspiring Australia: A National Strategy for Engagement with the Sciences, released yesterday by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, for opening the way for a strong and open relationship between science and society.


In Professor Rosenman's view: "The report recognises the contribution of the humanities, arts and social science disciplines in problem-solving, and notes the social sciences and humanities are critical to the interface between science and society," and says that CHASS is already developing proposals for a national forum in the humanities, arts and social sciences, to boost Australia's research and innovation work: "The forum will provide a platform for transdisciplinary approaches to major issues - and the science communications strategy will allow the Council and its member organisations to ensure it also extends to public engagement."

The Chair of the Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Academy for the Social Sciences in Australia, Mr Dennis Trewin added: "Social scientists agree that young Australians must be encouraged and inspired to study mathematics and other core sciences so that they can aspire to research and knowledge based careers."


The fifteen recommendations in Inspiring Australia: A National Strategy for Engagement with the Sciences are listed below. To retrieve the complete document Click here.


It remains to be seen what will come of these recommendations, and what effect, if any, it will have in increasing support for the staffing of universities' STEM faculties.



Recommendation 1

That DIISR’s terminating Science Connections Program (SCOPE) be replaced with a broader

national initiative designed to increase the level of public engagement in the sciences.

Such an initiative would provide ongoing support for existing, successful activities while

developing innovative approaches to effectively engage a wider audience.


Recommendation 2

That the Australian Government strongly articulate the goal of a scientifically engaged

Australia and support development of strategic national priorities for communicating

science and its benefits.


Recommendation 3

That leadership for this national initiative be provided by Questacon within DIISR, with

input from a broadly constituted national advisory group to guide implementation,

monitoring and evaluation, and reporting.


Recommendation 4

That a science communication summit be convened to secure buy‐in from the diverse

range of organisations and individuals in the science communication sector and to identify

strategic priorities and the optimal roles for different agencies and institutions.


Recommendation 5

That the national initiative include continued funding for the highly regarded Prime

Minister’s Prizes for Science, with an enhanced promotional strategy targeting the wider

Australian community and international audiences.


Recommendation 6

That the national initiative support promotional and awareness‐raising activities, including

travelling exhibitions showcasing Australia’s capability in the sciences and promotional

materials for scientists, science policy makers, overseas counsellors and other potential

Australian science ‘ambassadors’ to use abroad.


Recommendation 7

That a national Science and Society forum be held annually to focus on the priorities for

community engagement in science and key issues where science can serve the needs of



Recommendation 8

That the national initiative provide continued funding to extend the successful

community‐based activities of National Science Week, stimulating and leveraging further

contributions by organisations across Australia and targeting new and under‐served



Recommendation 9

That the national initiative include collaborative projects that stimulate science

organisations and networks across Australia to work together to promote information

sharing, including holding ‘Hot Science’ briefings for elected members and policy officers

of Federal, state and local governments, and leaders in the legal and business sectors.


Recommendation 10

That the national initiative support science communication and media training for

scientists and that a short‐term working group be established to review mechanisms for

further developing Australian science media content.


Recommendation 11

That a key focus of the national initiative should be raising awareness among young

people of opportunities in science and research. The Australian Government’s investment

in schools, higher education and research should be harnessed to achieve this.


Recommendation 12

That the national initiative support science communication exhibitions and programs that

target under‐served groups, such as those living in outer metropolitan, regional and

remote areas; Indigenous communities; people for whom English is a second language;

and people who are disabled or have limited mobility.


Recommendation 13

That a ‘national framework—local action’ approach be adopted, led by a national hub

collaborating with federal and state jurisdictions, business and the community. Such an

approach should aim to increase cooperation amongst organisations involved in science

communication down to the regional level, and drive partnerships and complementary



Recommendation 14

That the national initiative include development of a national Web presence to increase

the visibility of Australian science to national and international audiences, and to promote

links to other relevant science‐related sites.


Recommendation 15

That the national initiative support a program of research in science engagement—such as

baseline and longitudinal attitudinal and behavioural studies, activity audits, program

evaluations and impact assessments—to inform future investment decisions by

government and its partners.