Australia proposes National Strategy for Science Engagement
On February 8th, the Australian Minister of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr, released Australia’s first national Science Communication report. Her opening words were " Inspiring Australia: a national strategy for engagement with the sciences affirms the critical importance of a vigorous, high-quality national strategy for public engagement with the sciences for Australia's innovation agenda."
The points the report raises are highly applicable to Canada's situation. Key findings are that:
- Communicating science effectively is important in achieving an innovative Australia and that national leadership and coherent action are required.
- Australia is a high-performing country in a wide range of areas across the sciences, and this should be acknowledged and attract appropriate reward and recognition.
- Australia has a small population in global terms and cannot afford to squander its brain power. Therefore, it is important to develop the potential and interest of Australians irrespective of geography, ethnicity, age or social condition.
- A capable science workforce is a prerequisite for the Australian Government's Innovation Agenda. Thus, students need enhanced experiences in science and mathematics to help ensure an adequate supply of professionals with appropriate skills
- To build on national leadership and coherent action, a national framework – local action approach, a strong web presence and improved information flow and organisational networking are required to achieve the goal of a scientifically engaged Australia. A supportive research and evaluation program is also needed to monitor progress and inform investment decisions.
Sadly, this report is further evidence that other countries are moving ahead with comprehensive strategies in science engagement while Canada, with its ad hoc approach, continues to fall behind.
The summary and complete report are available from http://www.innovation.gov.au