The Academy's response to COVID-19

April 03, 2020

The Academy responded quickly to and continues to be very active regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The learned academies of Australia—representing over 3,000 of the nation’s best and most eminent scientists, researchers and other experts—have launched a searchable database of experts to help Australia tackle COVID-19. Led by the Australian Academy of Science, the academies created the COVID-19 Expert Database to provide a mechanism for governments, the business sector, the research sector and other decision-makers to easily access the expertise they need across many fields. The database is championed by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO.

The Academy has called for data underpinning COVID-19 decisions to be made public by the Australian Government. In a statement, Academy President Professor John Shine said that open data would allow Australia to make full use of leading scientists’ expertise to deepen our understanding of COVID-19 and to sharpen our response.He said that transparency must be at the core of government responses, so that the public has confidence that governments are basing their decisions on the most up-to-date scientific advice and evidence.

The Academy also supports international calls for science to form the basis of decisions worldwide, including a statement from the science academies of the G20 to the leaders of the G20, and a call for global solidarity from the Interacademy Partnership.

Information for Australians

The Academy is focusing its communications expertise on providing fact-checked and reliable public information about the virus and its effects. By the end of March it had published 14 videos and one article, with many more in production. Videos cover interviews with experts on a range of topics, and iunclude extended interviews with Academy Fellows Professor Peter Doherty, Professor Ian Frazer and Professor Eddie Holmes.

Collectively, the videos have been viewed by primarily Australian audiences more than 240,000 times on Facebook and 30,000 times on Twitter.

Uptake of the videos by the media has also been significant, with videos that answer questions including the effect of COVID-19 on children and transmission of the virus especially popular. Academy videos have been embedded in news stories by Australian and international media more than 140 times with an additional 315 references to the videos and their content in news stories (including syndications).

Videos have been embedded by news.com.au and the News Corp and Nine stables of metropolitan mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian Australia, Pedestrian TV, New Daily, ABC News, Kidspot, the New Zealand Herald and more.

Supporting science and mathematics education

The Academy is ready to support teachers and students. Its Australian Curriculum linked Foundation to Year 10 science and mathematics education programs are available online and remain free of charge. Plans are underway to customise these resources for the current circumstances. This involves liaising with teachers and state and territory education departments, as well as national agencies such as Education Services Australia and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. The Academy is also scoping how else it can provide practical and engaging content and assistance for schools, teachers, students and families.

The Academy enjoys a long history of developing and delivering effective programs which make a positive difference to science and mathematics teaching and learning for teachers, students, and schools across the country.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science

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