Inspiring Australia: A national strategy for engaging with the sciences

This Inspiring Australia strategy aims to deliver a more scientifically engaged Australia where:

  • Australians are inspired by and value scientific endeavour
  • Australia attracts increasing national and international interest in its science
  • Australians critically engage with key scientific issues
  • Young Australians are encouraged to pursue scientific studies and careers.

The widespread support of our science and research agencies, our education providers, our industry and business sector, our cultural and community organisations and many others working together is required to make these goals a success.

To help achieve these goals the Government has provided $21m over three years in the 2011-12 Budget towards an Inspiring Australia program. This funded program is a key element of the overarching strategy towards inspiring Australians to lead the world in science.

Development of the strategy

The Inspiring Australia strategy was developed through national consultations with a wide range of science communicators, educators, journalists and scientists in all states and territories as well as the examination of recent national and international documents. It is a strategy that was developed by the science community for the science community.  Further to this at a meeting of federal, state and territory Innovation Ministers in December 2009, it was agreed to cooperate on developing a coordinated national approach to science communication.

This work of pulling this together was guided by a Steering Committee, comprising the Chief Scientist for Australia, the Chief Executive of CSIRO, the Director of Questacon, a senior representative of the ABC and a Deputy Secretary from the Department as chair.

The Inspiring Australia report proposes a national strategy for public engagement that will help realise the goals articulated in Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century. The report was announced by the Minister on 8 February 2010.

The report is available below.

The strategy in action

Leadership

Inspiring Australia has, in conjunction with the Australian Government’s Coordination Committee on Innovation, established an ongoing working group to provide a whole-of-government approach to supporting the Inspiring Australia strategy.

Another working group, similarly established with the Commonwealth, State and Territory Advisory Committee on Innovation, is facilitating a coherent approach by Federal, State and Territory governments in support of the strategy.

These groups are: 

  • sharing key ideas and programme information
  • identifying opportunities for collaboration and partnerships
  • providing a forum for strategy development and implementation. 

Inspiring Australia officers, located in each state and territory, are co-funded by the Australian Government in partnership with state and territory governments and local institutions.

These officers play a key role in enabling a ‘national framework – local action’ approach in support of the strategy. These officers are helping to: 

  • align local and national strategies
  • strengthen science communication networks within states and territories
  • identify partnerships and linkages to address priority needs and communities
  • build year-round opportunities for targeted audiences. 

In addition, Inspiring Australia has developed a Framework of Principles to support a unified and consistent approach to policy development and programme implementation by Australian organisations, businesses and governments towards advancing science engagement in Australia.

National Strategy

The Inspiring Australia Report provides, for the first time, an Australia-wide framework for engaging people and communities in the sciences. Ongoing development of this strategy is important to build partnerships and maximise impacts.

Six expert working groups have developed recommendations to strengthen science engagement in relation to: 

  • Indigenous Australians
  • Tropical regions
  • Marine science
  • Desert regions
  • Mainstream and social media
  • Developing an evidence base.

These reports provide a coherent, national approach for the science community and partner organisations to respond to the needs and opportunities identified in each of these key areas.

Inspiring Australia funding is now supporting national programmes which address recommendations of the ‘Science and the media’ and ‘Developing an evidence base’ expert working group reports. 

National Programs

  • Unlocking Australia’s Potential
    This new grants program provides a total of $5 million to 63 projects to increase Australians’ interest and involvement in science, including a focus on youth, Indigenous Australians and regional communities.  
  • National Science Week
    Australia’s annual celebration of science attracts more than 1.4 million people of all ages to over 1000 events across the length and breadth of the nation.
  • Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science
    Australia’s most prestigious awards for excellence in science research and science teaching are a key part of the Inspiring Australia strategy to recognise and tell the story of Australia’s achievements.
  • Science and the media
    Five projects are underway to provide media skills for scientists, to host topical science forums for the media, to develop resources for working journalists, to support professional development in science journalism, and to develop a focus on ‘science in the media’ in schools.
  • Developing the evidence base
    Three projects are underway to audit and collate data on science engagement activity and best practice, and to develop evaluation tools. 
  • Science and society
    The strategy recognises the importance of broadening society’s understanding of the value of science and research. Initiatives such as Science Meets Parliament, hosted by Science and Technology Australia, and the Human Dimension National Forum, hosted by the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, contribute to this element.

Contact Details

Please contact us for more information on the Inspiring Australia strategy.

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