Inspiring…ASC and friends

At a recent meeting, the ASC Canberra committee decided we had heard of the Inspiring Australia (IA) report, but didn’t know much about what it said, what was happening as a result or what the implications were for us as science communicators. So we asked Simon France from the Australian government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Resources and Margaret McIver, our local IA officer, to tell us all about it.

We had a good turn-out of over 30 people, including a few new faces and a few new members.

Simon gave us a national perspective in a polished way – he’s been touring the country presenting information sessions about IA recently. The full report is online (http://www.innovation.gov.au/science/inspiringaustralia/Pages/default.aspx) so I won’t repeat it here, but my five top bits of useful information from Simon were:

  • all Australian government departments have appointed IA contact officers to manage their organisations’ involvement
  • there are expert working groups in a number of areas, and plans for more (including an arid zone working group!)
  • the IA brand will hopefully be developed to a point where it’s a mark of ‘quality science communication’
  • the Scicommunity website has been developed to share stories and build collaboration about public engagement
  • the youth aspect will be a focus for an expert working group with representation from the various departments of education.

I hope Simon will correct me if my scribbly notes have not been translated correctly.

Marg gave us a run-down of local action, including presentations by Dr Fiona Wood, authentique Cafe Scientifique events in conjunction with the Alliance Francaise and a Science meets Art competition for Youth Week (which we got to admire over wine and cheese after her presentation). Marg has developed a calendar of science events in Canberra which she sends to her email list monthly (or so).

David George, from the ACT government’s Chief Minister’s Department, which supports Marg’s position, was also able to tell us about their recent move into the science communication realm, though which they are involved in a number of programs such as the Tall Poppy Campaign and CSIRO’s Canberra education centre.

Big thanks to our presenters, who have inspired us to get involved with Inspiring Australia. We’re watching that space with interest.

Liz Yuncken
ASC Canberra Committee