How do you inspire and support the many science communicators spread across a 2.6 million kilometre-square state? Bring them together with experts, trainers, leaders and mentors for a professional development and capacity building conference in Perth, organised by Inspiring Australia.
In March 2015, 80 science communicators from across Western Australia descended on Scitech to network, learn new skills, and be inspired by stories from those who communicate science to the public. They came from universities, key science organisations, natural resource management groups, private enterprise and regional science hubs.
WA Chief Scientist Peter Klinken gave the opening address for the inaugural Communicate to Inspire conference, summing up the importance of science communication for Australian research:
“At the end of the day, who’s paying for the research? Taxpayers. Every person is contributing towards our ability to do science. We need to bring them along, so they’ll be our supporters.”
Australian of the Year and burns specialist Professor Fiona Wood spoke about pitching your message at the right level. Susannah Eliott provided an overview of the Australian Science Media Centre and encouraged people to be bold but not inaccurate. And the WA branch of Australian Science Communicators facilitated a session on understanding audiences.
In 2016, over 100 people attended the conference, with a focus on communicating science to government and policy makers.
Catriona Jackson, CEO of Science Technology Australia, provided tips to engage politicians and an understanding of their backgrounds and busy schedules. Former WA Premier Carmen Lawrence—now a professor at the University of Western Australia School of Psychology—discussed the challenge of behaviour change, And workshops provided opportunities to learn about running citizen science programs, using data to tell stories, social media, and connecting with innovation and science start-ups.