Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter—Issue 12 May 2023

Science Policy and Diplomacy Issue 11 December 2022

The Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter of the Australian Academy of Science highlights important science policy discussions and events in Australia and around the globe. We report on the involvement of science in national and international policy and diplomacy, and the Academy’s contributions to these discussions.


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Foreword from the Policy Secretary

Professor Ian Chubb AC FAA

The Australian Government has commenced a long overdue revision of our national science and research priorities.

In my view, identifying research priorities remains as important as ever.

Australia remains a middle power in global science. We cannot do everything and should not spread thinly our already inadequate support for research, in contrast to the major powers such as the US, Europe and China. The pandemic, geopolitics and technological competition have made this argument even more critical.

Australia needs scientific sovereign capability just as much as we need sovereign industrial and defence capability.

More than ever, the world cannot be relied upon to provide the science we need—especially in a world where the global science system is increasingly fractured.

Australia needs scientific sovereign capability just as much as we need sovereign industrial and defence capability.

There are three areas that we should recognise as the base of our national research effort:

  • firstly, matters that are uniquely Australian, such as our environment and biodiversity—and only we will have the need, incentive and the talent to pursue them
  • secondly, matters that are global such as health, energy and global warming, where we have the capacity and talent to contribute to international efforts
  • finally, there is a critical need to build intellectual capital through the pursuit of the most basic understanding of the very nature of things, which is fundamental research that can provide the knowledge we need for reasonable and sustainable futures.

From this foundation, we must identify what, where and how we will focus our efforts.

The first two require specific details, including the need for particular basic research. We must consider where we have comparative advantages, such as our skill sets, geographical space, regions encompassing multiple climatic and other conditions, and the terrestrial and marine environment.

The third area would benefit from a review of our research framework, with clear and unambiguous support for research leading to knowledge and separately for the use (translation) of the knowledge.

As we embark on the exercise of priorities again, we should bear in mind those identified in 2015 had little impact, apart from a tick-a-box on some forms. This was not helped by the rapid rotation of science ministers.

If this round of priorities is to influence what we support, where and how, it needs a thorough implementation plan.

There is, however, a danger with targets or objectives or goals. It is tempting to be limited, or overly influenced, by what we know can be measured now, or by what we presently know.

This national conversation is important. Scientists need to spend a significant effort talking to the public. Building community support for the risks and benefits of science is vital.

When science outstrips community acceptance, we invite over-regulation, which can lead to the end of innovation.

Policy and diplomacy news

International Science Council deplores the exclusion of women from university education in Afghanistan

The International Science Council (ISC) has released a statement on the decision of authorities in Afghanistan to ban women from participating in university level education. Equality of access to education is imperative to the cultural, social, economic and scientific progress of any country and vital to the wellbeing of its citizens. You can read the full statement here.

The Ukraine-Australia Research Fund is now open

Applications for The Ukraine-Australia Research Fund are now open. Ukrainian scientists who have fled the war with Russia or who have been unable to work due to the destruction of their workplace can apply for funding to enable the continuation of research and technology activities.

This is made possible by an A$800,000 donation from the non-profit Breakthrough Prize Foundation to the Australian Academy of Science.

S20 India: Disruptive Science for Sustainable Development

This year's Group of 20 (G20) and associated S20 are hosted by India and will be held on 9 and 10 September 2023 with venues across the nation. The program is split across three key themes:

R&D investment boost needed in Federal Budget

In the lead up to the May Federal Budget, the Australian Academy of Science has called for the Australian Government to commit to a bold and ambitious structural reform agenda for science, including a target to boost investment in research and development and an independent review of the Australian science system. Read more.

Science Academy responds to AUKUS

Academy president Chennupati Jagadish AC PresAA FREng FTSE has commented on the Albanese Government’s proposed details of a nuclear-powered submarine deal with the UK and US, emphasising Australia’s nuclear science skills crisis. Read the statement here.

Spotlight on STEM Women Global pioneers for International Women’s Day

For International Women's Day, the Academy spoke with two inspirational women from the STEM Women Global network, asking them to share their experiences and examine the impact that initiatives such as STEM Women Global are likely to have on the STEM landscape.

Science policy and analysis at the Academy

The Academy brings together leading Australian experts to consider and advise the nation on scientific issues, providing authoritative information and advice on current science, technology and emerging research to inform discussion and assist evidence-based policy development and decision-making.

Experts deliver evidence in long COVID parliamentary hearing

On 17 February experts from across disciplines and sectors, as well as patients with lived experience, participated in a roundtable discussion on long COVID. The Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences organised the roundtable to inform the House Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport’s Inquiry into Long COVID and Repeated COVID Infections. Read more

Greenhouse gas removal in Australia

On 1 March, the Australian Academy of Science published a new report that explores the scientific capability, research and collaboration needed to support new breakthroughs in greenhouse gas removal. Read more

Reef Futures Roundtables underway

The Australian Academy of Science has hosted the first two of three expert roundtables to inform a synthesis report on the likely impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water engaged the Academy to convene the roundtables that will support the Reef 2050 Independent Expert Panel in its role of advising government. Read more

Academy submissions

Australia’s science and research priorities

On 6 April 2023, the Australian Academy of Science made a submission to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources’ consultation on developing Australia's science and research priorities and national science statement.

The Academy’s submission focuses on the strategic context and requirements of the National Science and Research Priorities. It draws on discipline-specific sector analysis carried out by the Academy’s National Committees for Science. Read the submissions here.

Other recent Academy submissions

  • Australian Universities Accord Panel Discussion Paper: Submission to the Australian Universities Accord Panel.
  • Discovery Program Grant Process Review: Submission to the Australian Research Council.
  • Nature Repair Market Bill exposure draft: Submission to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
  • Migration, Pathway to Nation Building: Submission to the to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration.
  • Critical Minerals Strategy 2023 discussion paper: Submission to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.
  • National Reconstruction Fund Corporation Bill 2022: Submission to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee.
  • 2023-24 Federal Budget: Submission to the 2023–24 Federal Budget.
  • Plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways: Submission to the House Standing Committee on Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water.
  • Australia’s illicit drug problem: Submission to the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement.
  • Removing nuclear energy prohibitions: Submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee.

Community showcase

EMCRs join International Science Council

  • Fifteen young Academies have been recently welcomed as members of the ISC. These academies and associations represent young scientists, and early- and mid-career researchers and professionals. The Australian Academy of Science is proud to share that the EMCR Forum is among these new members.

Grand support for Future Earth Australia

  • Grander’s Trust, a legacy trust acknowledging Mr Richard Stevens, or ‘Grander’ to his grandchildren, has donated $50,000 toward supporting Future Earth Australia, a national initiative based at the Australian Academy of Science that enables Australian researchers, governments, industry, peak bodies and civil society to connect and collaborate on sustainability transition.

Emerging Indigenous women scientists recognised with Academy award

  • Emerging scientists Michelle Hobbs and Stephanie Beaupark were the recipients of the 2023 Australian Academy of Science Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award. Ms Beaupark will use the award to further her research, which combines her passions of chemistry and visual art. Ms Hobbs will use the award to provide new insights into the management of Australian freshwater ecosystems and freshwater mussels.
  • The award recognises research by outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander PhD students and early- and mid-career scientists.

NBN Co champions women in STEM with unique partnership

  • NBN Co has joined the Australian Academy of Science’s Women in STEM Decadal Plan Champions—the first Government Business Enterprise to champion the initiative. The commitment aligns with nbn’s target of achieving 40% female representation in management positions.

Upcoming events

Looking back, moving forward: Indigenous knowledges informing our modern world

Date: 13 June
Time: 5.30 pm – 7.00 pm
Venue: The Shine Dome and online
Event website

The Academy’s Public Speaker Series will highlight how Indigenous knowledges are informing our understanding of key science areas in modern Australia. From climate change to agriculture and astronomy. The series of six events are spread across the year and will unite Indigenous knowledge holders with researchers, innovators and industry experts to explore the power of combined ideas in 2023!

Empowering EMCRs to Lead the Future of the Science of Nutrition

Date: 26 July
Time: 8.30 am – 5.30 pm
Venue: Melbourne
Event website
This one-day symposium will focus on accelerating the implementation of Nourishing Australia, with EMCR participants having the chance to review the plan’s progress to date, set new objectives, and collaborate with key organisational influencers and stakeholders to develop implementation strategies for key recommendations and priority areas

International Political Science Association (IPSA) Congress 2023

Date: 15 – 19 July 2023
Venue: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Event website

The Congress will provide great opportunity to present work and discuss political science and international relations with global scholars. It will also include local and regional representation. For the very first time, the Local Organizing Committee is composed of colleagues from five regional countries, with the aim of strengthening ties with the global community.

International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) 2024

Date: 6 – 9 May 2024  
Venue: Kigali, Rwanda
Event website

The International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) is delighted to announce that their fifth Global Conference will take place in Kigali, Rwanda! This is particularly exciting as this will be the first INGSA global conference to take place in Africa and the first hosted in the Global South. Make sure you sign up at to receive updates on the conference and opportunities to be involved. More information on themes and speakers will be released in due course.

The Australian Academy of Science occasionally partners with Australian Government departments and other science and research organisations to produce independent research reports and science advice, and facilitate international science linkages on their behalf. If you are interested in working with the Academy please contact us.

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