Professional Scientists Australia formally launched the “Still the Clever Country?” campaign yesterday in Canberra at the Australian Academy of Science’s Shine Dome with Professor Ian Chubb delivering the keynote address. The aim of the campaign is twofold – to help show the community the value and importance of the work professional scientists do, and to convince decision-makers that investing in science and the science workforce is fundamental to ensuring Australia remains a clever country.
In his address, Professor Chubb noted how fundamental maintaining our status as a clever country was not only to our economic sustainability but to ensure a fair and just future for Australia. Chubb also detailed the progress towards a strategic approach to Australian science policy further to the recommendations set out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future. He noted that the Commonwealth Science Council which met in late 2014 had asked his office to transform the recommendations into actions and a meeting is scheduled for report back in April. If the Science Council endorses the actions, Australia would, for the first time under the Abbott Government, have a Strategic Plan for Australian Science.
In his address, Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton highlighted:
- the critical role of the science workforce in driving innovation, collaboration and competitiveness
- the fact that professional scientists are part of the solution, not part of the problem or a cost to be cut
- the need to not only invest in STEM education but the STEM workforce with a focus on education and training offering workers career pathways, not just skills for initial jobs, and
- the need for ongoing investment in the science capability of the workforce rather than deprofessionalisation.