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News from Science & Technology Australia

23 Sep 2022 3:29 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

Australia’s National Science and Technology Council met last week for the first time with Science Minister Ed Husic in the chair. The Council brings together outstanding scientific leaders and experts - including former Science & Technology Australia President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie - to give scientific advice on government priorities.

The Minister’s keynote to the AIIA Tech & Sustainability Conference later that day emphasised the importance of technology to help Australia to reach its net zero emissions goal. It also telegraphed vast opportunities for our country by tapping into Australia’s world-class scientists and technologists.

A new National Quantum Advisory Committee will draw together eminent science and business leaders to guide Australia’s development of these transformative technologies. Chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley, its 15 members include Defence Chief Scientist Professor Tanya Monro and STA’s Treasurer and FAR committee chair Mark Stickells in his role as Executive Director of the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre.

Sleeptite CEO Cameron Van Den Dungen, STA Policy Chair Professor Sharath Sriram and STA member Women in STEMM co-chair Professor Madhu Bhaskaran also hosted a Ministerial visit to showcase how their world-first flexible lightweight sensors were created - an Australian innovation to help revolutionise patient safety and well-being in aged care. Shadow Science Minister Paul Fletcher has also been out and about visiting leading science teams and facilities across the country and highlighting their inspiring work.

This week, Australia’s annual STEM Equity Monitor was published. It confirms crucial progress is being made by the array of programs and initiatives to boost the participation of women in STEM. But there is still a long way to go - especially in enabling women into senior leadership in STEM. Just 23 percent of senior managers and only 8 percent of CEOs in STEM-qualified industries are women. Here's our media release.  

STA STEM Ambassador Meg Panozzo was profiled in an Australian Financial Review story on this topic. Meg is an engineer working as an Infrastructure Advisory Consultant at RPS and she’s spent her career driving significant cultural change for women in engineering.

Meanwhile, the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) is powerfully transforming our country’s manufacturing future. We are delighted to welcome them this week as our newest STA member. ANFF plays a crucial role in the Australian research community. It delivers world class expertise and access to micro and nanofabrication equipment to the country’s science sector. We are thrilled to add their voice to the 105 member organisations we represent. Together we are a powerful voice for the sector.

It was terrific to see Professor Lesley Hughes, Sam Mostyn and Dr Virginia Marshall appointed to the board of the Climate Change Authority last week. They are three hugely experienced and highly influential experts. Wiradjuri-Nyemba woman Dr Marshall - a legal scholar with deep expertise in water - will bring a powerful First Nations perspective to the board’s work.

Education Minister Jason Clare has opened applications for the 2022-23 round of the STEM mentoring program for Year 9 and 10 girls, Curious Minds. This inspiring program is run by STA member Australian Science Innovations. Applications are open until 30 September.  

What a moving obituary for trailblazing Australian global speech scientist Professor Anne Cutler from STA members at the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University. She championed the cause of women in academia, advocating for quotas to address gender imbalance and inspiring new generations of female researchers.

Finally, STA has launched a newsletter on LinkedIn, sharing science and technology policy and advocacy news with an even wider community of opinion shapers. It will be published every second Monday following our Member Update. Please subscribe and share if you know others who would find this resource valuable.

Until next time, 

Misha Schubert 
CEO, Science & Technology Australia 

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