About Lisa Bailey

ASC President 2019

Members Q&A series June – July 2020

After our first Q&A with Norman Swan in May, we’re excited to bring you more in our Q&A webinar series.

These are free for all current ASC members, click on the links below to register.

Like many events around the world, Pint of Science Australia earlier this year cancelled their festival in support of physical distancing.

By mid-April they realised they could still bring science to your local … local house of course!

Join us for a Q&A with Jirana and Tom, co-CEOs of Pint of Science Australia, to learn more about how they quickly adapted their festival and took it online with talks, quiz nights, AMAs and podcasts for an audience from across the country. Pick their brains as to what worked, what didn’t, and their biggest learnings from taking their sci-com festival online.

Register here

From catastrophic bushfires to pandemic coronavirus, 2020 has thrown science into the spotlight in ways that it often isn’t in day to day media coverage.

Join us for a Q&A with the ABC Science Editor Jonathan Webb to learn more about how and why the team covers the science they do, and what it’s like to work for one of the most trusted brands in Australian media.

Register here


Members Event: Q&A with Dr Norman Swan

COVID-19 presents one of the largest science communication challenges ever, with rapidly evolving science, enormous social and economic impacts and a rising global death toll. Access to timely and trusted information is critical, and for a huge number of Australians Dr Norman Swan of the ABC has been one of the key respected journalists covering this through a range of media.

Join us for a Q&A with Dr Norman Swan to find out how he and the ABC team have been tackling the issues around communicating such a complex issue.

You can submit your questions in advance through your event registration, or submit through the zoom chat function during the session.

When: Friday 1 May, 12.45pm AEST

Where: Zoom Webinar

register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_qVEK_NP8Quu5dm3x90W0qw

*please note this event is available for current ASC members only, check your membership or sign up at http://www.asc.asn.au/join/

COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

The now designated global pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus is having unprecedented impacts across the world as authorities attempt to contain transmission and manage cases. At the time of writing this, Australia currently has 197 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), including 3 deaths.  The Prime Minister announced yesterday that gatherings of more than 500 people should not go ahead from Monday as part of social distancing measures to prevent peaks of new cases and ease the strain on health services.

It’s a time when, more than ever, people need ready access to clear, timely and relevant information that is evidence-based.

For science communicators – we may be able to help contribute to creating useful resources for our audiences, or pointing to and sharing trusted sources through our networks.  For some of us, the impacts are already being felt with the cancellation of major events like the World Science Festival in Brisbane and the PCST Conference in Aberdeen.

Below is a collection of reputable resources that you might find useful.

Official advice is to follow these simple steps to help slow the spread of the virus and to reduce the risk of infection:

➡️ Wash your hands with soap and water before and after eating, and also after using the toilet

➡️ Avoid physical contact with others when possible

➡️ Cough into your elbow or into a clean tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin

➡️ Seek medical attention if you’re feeling sick. Be aware that most people currently experiencing cold and flu symptoms won’t have COVID-19

For science communicators who would like to delve deeper into the research, the WHO have compiled a downloadable database of all current COVID-19 research: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/global-research-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov


Keynote presentations at ASC2020

The upcoming conference program is looking fantastic with a huge range of speakers sharing experience and expertise across health, environment, media, research, creativity, behaviour change, gender equity and more.  We are very pleased to announce and highlight some of our keynote sessions for ASC2020 below.

Monday opening plenary – Can we save our grandchildren? Inspiring change in an age of denial and despair

The planet is in melt down. Since the 1970s scientists have issued repeated warnings about global warming and of the catastrophic impacts on our planet and our survival unless we reduce carbon emissions . Yet as the scientific evidence mounts, the facts are deliberately obfuscated by political and institutional restraints and vested interests .No wonder many scientists report feelings of frustration, depression and despair.

How do scientists and science communicators can overcome these obstacles?

How we can present the facts about the climate emergency and the array of interconnected existential threats in a way that resonates with people across all sectors of society and make a compelling case for taking action?

Produced by Alison Leigh, past Editorial Director and current consultant to the World Congress of Science and Factual producers, featuring

Tuesday lunchtime plenary – Broadcasting for Impact

Stephen Oliver, ABC

In this session Stephen will discuss producing broadcast content that has far reaching impacts from attitudes to recycling, to senate inquiries on seafood labelling, and how lessons learned are being translated to current ABC projects on climate change including The Fight for Planet A: The Climate Challenge documentary.

Stephen Oliver has written and directed many award -winning films and series, developing two distinct strings to his bow – making entertaining comedic docs about popular culture like “Skippy: Australia’s First Superstar”, “Chateau Chunder: A Wine Revolution”, “The Secret History of Eurovision” and “Stop Laughing this is Serious”, alongside hard-hitting campaign shows like “What’s the Catch?” which led to a Senate Inquiry on seafood labelling, “How to Save the World” on climate change which broadcast to over a million viewers on the opening day of Paris COP21 and “For the Love of Meat”. He has since launched his TV commissioning career at the ABC with notable success, looking after some of the national broadcaster’s biggest hits including Logie and AACTA winning War on Waste, Venice TV prize and AACTA winning Employable Me, Love on the Spectrum, Don’t Stop the Music, Can we Save the Reef? and Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane. Stephen introduced impact campaigns to the ABC, with notable success, including on two series of War on Waste, with 68% of the huge audience declaring to have changed behaviour after watching the show. He has two major climate shows in production for 2020, but his tireless environmental campaign shows have since persuaded him to give up his habit of eating exotic and endangered animals.


Tuesday afternoon plenary – Effective engagement with Policy Makers

Subho Banerjee, Research Program Director, Australia & New Zealand School of Gov’t (ANZSOG)

How do policymakers come to decisions? Why do scientific “truths” sometimes get ignored? What influence if any can scientists have on the process?

This session from a science-trained policy wonk will help you get inside the head of a policymaker and understand what is going on in there. Learn how to get on the agenda and have fruitful discussions that create real change.

Dr Subho Banerjee is the Research Program Director at ANZSOG. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the ANU, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University. He works on the interface between academia and public policy practice.

Subho was previously a Deputy Secretary in the Australian Public Service, and has served in a range of strategic policy and program implementation roles spanning economic, social and environmental policy areas. He has also worked as a management consultant in the private sector, and for an Indigenous policy thinktank.

Subho holds a BSc and PhD in Physics from ANU. He also holds Masters qualifications in economic and social history, and environmental change and management, from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar.


Registrations are still open for ASC2020 – click here for registration options.

The Big Science Communication Challenges: Alison Leigh

This post is part of a series which asked past presidents of ASC: What are the biggest science communication challenges Australia faces right now and over the next decade?
Response from Alison Leigh


When I was ASC president 25 years ago , my day job was running Quantum,  ABC TV “s iconic science program, so my perspective on science communication is from the point of view of a science TV producer .

Back then it was already becoming clear that the biggest issue of our time , and the biggest issue for science communication was the threat to the environment on all fronts: global warming ,mass extinction of plants and animals, dwindling water resources, deforestation, soil degradation, air and water pollution, the list goes on. We launched a sister series  A Question of Survival , which aimed to go beyond doom and gloom and tell stories about potential solutions – renewable energies , recycling waste materials , habitat protection , resource management  and so on.

At the time a dedicated audience of around a million a week used to tune in to Quantum, so on the face of it we were in a good position to reach the hearts and minds of a large proportion of Australians.

But it turned out that we were stymied by what turns out to be the biggest challenge for science communication then and now – people are tribal. We identify with the belief systems of our cultural groups. We get stuck in our own echo chambers. Our ABC audience was already interested in and curious about science – so we were preaching to the converted , but when people are confronted with scientific evidence that appears to undermine beliefs associated with their group identity – they refuse to accept it.

Of course the internet has revolutionised science broadcasting , which in theory means that  we can reach broader audiences these days. Anyone can be a broadcaster any time any where. And consumers of information can pick and choose. But now we are up against fake news , and filter bubbles. If you want to hear that human induced climate change is a load of nonsense, sophisticated algorithms will continue to connect you with  information and opinions that conform to and reinforce your beliefs.

The extent of the deliberate misinformation that these algorithms can draw on is staggering and depressing.

A few months ago a working group of ASC past presidents agreed on some initiatives that we would like to push to communicate the  impending global environment emergency. The trouble is we have no budget. Compare that to the billion dollar climate denial campaign run for the last three or four decades by  the late and unlamented billionaire David Koch of Koch Industries, whose main business is the processing and selling of fossil fuels. A combination of  Koch funded lobbying groups, think tanks , political donation and even university centres have convinced a series of USA governments not only to refuse to consider action on climate change but continue to deny that the problem is real. *

As in  the USA,  similar campaigns in Australia  are many and varied. We are being governed by vested interests.

The big challenge for Australian  science communicators everywhere is to convince the public  of  the integrity of the science that tells us the old playbook is dead and we have to change course.


*: See Christopher Leonard

Mr. Leonard is the author of “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America.”




A handy guide to running an ASC Branch

Frequently ASC-ed questions

Download the Guide here

If you find yourself running an ASC state or territory branch, there are some questions you might have.

  • How do we get funding?
  • How do you run an AGM?
  • Do we have public liability insurance?
  • What kind of communications channels are open to ASCers?

I’ve put together a first draft of a guide to help answer these questions, with links to lots of templates (e.g. treasurer’s report) and how to guides (how do you run an AGM?)

I hope you find it useful, and if you think of something missing, drop me a line to let me know president@asc.asn.au


Nominations are now open for the 2019 Unsung Hero Award of Australian Science Communication.

The Australian Science Communicators is proud to offer the Unsung Hero Award of Australian Science Communication

The award will be announced at the ASC Conference in Melbourne in February 2020.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 January 2020.

ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry WORD
ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry PDF

The Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication is an initiative of the Australian Science Communicators.

Previous recipients are Kylie Andrews (2017) Kylie Walker (2015), Frankie Lee (2014) and Craig Cormick (2013). The award was launched by the 2011 National Executive and realigned from the previous ‘Unsung Hero of Science’ award (read some background here).


The criteria for nomination for the Unsung Hero Australian Science Communication are:

  1. Nominees (an individual or group) must be resident in Australia and actively engaged in science communication, interpreted broadly to include, but not limited to, pursuits such as:
    • teaching,
    • research,
    • broadcasting,
    • script and book writing,
    • science and policy,
    • science shows,
    • science promotion and
    • interpretation of science within cultural institutions.
  2. The work the nominee is being nominated for must have been carried out in Australia.
  3. Nominees should have not yet received significant recognition for their contribution to science and its promotion. This will almost certainly rule out a ‘top’ or popular science communicator. The nominee should have shown that they regard science communication as an integral part of scientific work.
  4. Nominees should have a considerable or prolonged record (at least several years) in science communication.
  5. The award is intended to recognise those whose contribution has been so significant over a period of time that they should by now have been recognised. It is unlikely that this would apply to a candidate whose contribution, however significant, is of short duration.
  6. Nominators must give careful consideration to what counts as ‘science’ – for example, nominees from technological or environmental fields should be nominated not just on the basis of their contribution to those particular fields, but because the scientific side of their work is strong and their communication contributes to a better understanding of the process and practice of science.


This award may be made to a candidate whose work is specifically in science education, promotion or communication in one or many fields where the science component of their work is highly significant.

Benefits of the award

Ideally, the award may assist the recipient in their work, for example by publicising a difficult issue or by recognising that they have been a ‘lone and unpopular voice’ in spite of their scientific achievements being strong.

The award may also help a recipient to focus attention on their efforts or give them greater credibility and help them overcome adverse or unfair criticism.

Selection Process

Selection is based solely on the written information provided on the nomination form.

A selection committee of representatives from the Australian Science Communicators will assess all nominations and determine award recipients.

In some instances the selection committee may request further information before making their final decision.

The Australian Science Communicators reserves the right to make no awards should the judges consider that the quality of candidates does not warrant awards, or should the nominated candidate(s) not satisfy the selection criteria.

Requirements for Award Nomination

The nominator must be a financial member of the ASC, but the nominee need not be a member. The nominator should first consult with the nominee and referees to ensure the nominee is aware of, and gives consent, to the application.

Each nomination must comprise a fully completed award nomination form. Preferable length: 2 pages.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 January 2020.   

Nomination enquiries to:
Lisa Bailey
President of the Australian Science Communicatorspresident@asc.asn.au

Send completed nominations to:
Kali Madden
Executive Officer – Australian Science Communicators

Nomination forms

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 January 2020.

ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry WORD
ASC Unsung Hero Award 2019 Nomination Form – Entry PDF

2019 AGM – President’s Report

Presidents report

2019 has seen us celebrate 25 years of the ASC.  It’s been my first year as President, and I’d like to thank everyone who has been invaluable in helping me throughout the year, especially the executive committee and Kali as our invaluable executive officer.

Activity over the year:

  • Regular communication through the ASC Channels including SCOPE, our member newsletter, the ASC-list and the Facebook Group. These avenues continue to provide useful ways for members to promote, seek collaboration or advertise and find new job opportunities.
  • ASC has celebrated our 25th anniversary with a recording on the future challenges for Science Communication, recently broadcast on ABC Big Ideas. We’ve also been collating reflections from past ASC presidents on not only the past but future challenges for Australian science communicators in the coming decade, currently being published through the ASC site.
  • We were represented at the Eureka Science Awards.
  • I participated in the World Conference of Science Literacy held in Beijing in October 2019 in my capacity as ASC President. In a plenary session to the conference I outlined the scope of science engagement activity in Australia and our future challenges including increasingly fragmented audiences, and ability to translate scientific knowledge into policy outcomes in a climate (no pun intended) of increasing environmental threat.
  • Also as part of this conference ASC has been invited to participate in a working group to establish an international organisation – the World Organisation for Science Literacy. I will approach this with interest in the spirit of fostering international collaboration.
  • We have also been busy preparing for the next National Conference, to be held in Monash in February 2020 with the generous support of our host partner the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. With a wide range of submissions I look forward to our (almost) annual conference event, the only of its kind for our unique mix of science engagement practitioners and researchers.

I’d like to acknowledge our outgoing Secretary Teresa Belcher for her contribution to ASC over the last 3 years.

I’d like to congratulate the state branches on supporting a wide range of diverse activities for our membership including

  • The Storytelling for Science Communicator’s workshop in Melbourne in July
  • The Friday Al Desko events in Canberra
  • The 2019 ASC Careers event in Brisbane
  • Communicate to Inspire event in Perth

And many many more.

Challenges have been expressed about the difficulty branches face in understanding what kind of support or processes they have access to in order to support their state based activity.  I appreciate the work that goes in from all our dedicated volunteer committee members, and so we look in 2020 to take action on this feedback with

The Big Science Communication Challenges: Craig Cormick

This post is part of a series which asked past presidents of ASC: What are the biggest science communication challenges Australia faces right now and over the next decade?

Response from Craig Cormick

I feel the biggest science communication challenge facing Australia is the fact we all eat different biscuits but don’t know enough about those who eat different biscuits to us, nor why they prefer them and who they talk to about them.

Let’s call that biscuit diffusion. Its Latin scientific name would be: bis cotus diffusion.

In plain English, without the biscuit metaphor, that means there are more and more diffuse audiences that are further and further apart from each other, and there are more and more diffuse messages that we need to target those different audience with, and there are more and more diffuse mediums that we need to use to best reach them.

Many of us get that. But many of us don’t.

For as target audiences diffuse it is harder and harder to see the other audiences who do not sit somewhere near us. In a supermarket it is pretty plain to see that not everyone likes the same types of biscuits as us, because all the other biscuits are there in front of us – and if we stay there in the supermarket aisle long enough we will even see some people choosing Iced VoVos and some choosing Wafers and some even choosing Ginger Nuts (yeah, I know, what are they thinking?)

But in a more diffuse landscape the different biscuits are nowhere near each other, and might even be in different shops in different suburbs. So our capacity to know what other biscuits exist is diminished, and our capacity to know anything about those other biscuit buyers is diminished ever further.

And we tend to work with people who like the same biscuits as us, and we tend to prefer simple messages over complex ones. This means we know just how to reach those other people who prefer the logic and reason of Scotch Finger biscuits, and we spend much of our time talking to them. But we just can’t really understand those crazy Iced VoVo eaters! I mean, we’ve showed them the data and facts about the superiority of Scotch Fingers but they just keep on buying and eating Iced VoVos! What is wrong with them?

We really have to admit our biscuit failures and we need to really work harder to better understand those other biscuit eaters, and know what messages and what mediums and what influences they respond to. We need to better understand not just the Ice VoVo eaters, but those who prefer Honey Jumbles and Tic Tocs and Vita Wheat and yes, even Tiny Teddies!

It is no good saying the problem is with them. No more than we can say the problem is with those who refuse to accept our facts on climate change, or that we were taken by surprise by the outcome of the US Presidential election, or the Australian Federal election, or the Brexit vote.

We should have been talking to those people who don’t think like us and know where they are and know what their preferred mediums and influencers are.  And we should be working with them to frame messages to best reach them.

They are not the enemy – regardless of their different views – they are just different biscuits eaters to us,  and the biggest challenge for science communications is to stop doing things the way we have traditionally done them, and concentrate on how to best reach them, understand them, and successful communicate with them.


2019 Australian science communicators remuneration and skills survey

As a science communicator do you ever wish you could find out how much your skills are worth on the job market?

We do, which is why we have teamed up with ANU’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science to develop Australia’s first profile of Australia’s science communicators.

We’re looking to hear from anyone who plays a role in science communication, including people who communicate about science as part of their role, including scientists, academics and volunteers.

By answering the questions in this five to ten-minute survey you’ll help you and others benchmark the salaries that different kinds of science communicators get for the different skills and services they provide.

We’ll release a report of the results from this survey at our annual conference in February and hope to publish relevant findings in an academic journal.

To start the survey just click here – https://anu.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_a9SJvGelO387mLP


The survey will be open until 5pm, Monday 23 September.

Once you’ve finished please consider sharing this survey with any friends or relatives you may have who also communicate about science so we hear from all kinds of science communicators.

Lisa Bailey

President, Australian Science Communicators