A new survey by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) has found one in five Australian scientists experienced death threats and/or threats of physical or sexual violence after speaking to the media about COVID-19.
Professor John Shine, President of the Australian Academy of Science, said the results of the survey are shocking but not surprising.
“The Academy has also received a number of anecdotal reports from researchers who have been bullied, harassed or the subject of death threats during this pandemic, simply for doing their job,” said Professor Shine.
“It is unacceptable that scientists have been subject to this abhorrent behaviour, particularly while many have been working tirelessly for the public good and providing their expertise and advice on COVID-19 as Australia has navigated the pandemic.
“This is a global issue with researchers around the world also facing serious threats to their personal and professional lives as a result of their research on COVID-19, as highlighted recently by the International Science Council.
“All scientists should be free to go about their work, share their expertise and promote their research in appropriate fora without fear of intimidation or violence from individuals, groups or governments.”
“Despite these attacks on scientists by a vocal minority, it is important to note that Australian’s trust in scientific bodies remains high as evidenced by a number of surveys.”
© 2021 Australian Academy of Science