Many great things have come out of the Inspiring Australia program, but the real achievement has been to establish a model for the national coordination of science engagement, with the challenge now for scientists and communicators to keep working together to make the most of this opportunity.
That was the message delivered by Inspiring Australia’s Simon France at the 2014 Australian Science Communicators National Conference in Brisbane, as he outlined the national strategy’s outcomes and what is planned for the future.
A vast number of partnerships and projects—including those funded by the Unlocking Australia’s Potential grants—has included an estimated 15,000 organisations around the country, reaching an approximate audience of 6 million people. Many of these projects can be seen on the new Sciencengage website (feel free to add your own activities!).
But just as most of these initiatives will continue after their Inspiring Australia funding is past, there were of course many worthy science communication initiatives before it even existed. However, there was a lack of leadership and coordination, which is where the national strategy came in.
With the foundation in place—comprising pieces like the Science Sector Group, evaluation tools and conversations between researchers and practitioners—we now need to build on it. Some ideas for the year ahead include:
- more industry involvement, including in the Science Sector group
- a consistent approach to science communication to politicians and policymakers
- streamlined approach to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities for youth
- regional hubs to support their own sustainable science engagement activities
- working with the Australian tourism industry, to provide science attractions for families driving around Australia
- science clubs in Australia
- National Science Week, which already reaches over 1.5 million people.
And of course, all those working in science engagement are encouraged keep in touch with the Inspiring Australia team, especially the officers in your state or territory.