About Lisa Bailey

ASC President 2019

Members Q&A Webinar Friday 28 August – Fred Watson

Join us for the next in our series where we will be hosting Australia’s Astronomer-at-large, writer, science communicator, good lighting advocate and traveller Fred Watson.

Fred has had a long and distinguished sci-com career, well-known for his astronomy slots on ABC radio, and his books include “Stargazer – the Life and Times of the Telescope”, “Why is Uranus Upside Down? and Other Questions About the Universe”

Send through your questions on writing, broadcasting, the universe and just what an Astronomer-at-large does anyway?

Friday 28 August

4pm AEST

Free, register via zoom webinar here.

Note – these sessions are free for all ASC members.  To join, or check your membership, visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/

Volunteer Positions – apply now!

We need your help!

ASC would love your help.  We’ve got a few new volunteer positions available.  Click on the position below for the full position description:

·         Social media strategist volunteer – Express your enthusiasm for the face of #scicomm, hone your skills and make a difference to the Australian science communication community.

This role shapes the voice of ASC. Take the reins of our social channels and provide strategic direction to our communications. Provide recommendations to the ASC Committee as to where and how we should focus our efforts and assist in developing and implementing social campaigns where they can be most effective.

·         Digital Systems volunteer – Bring your troubleshooting mastery and your eye for detail to deliver a better experience for our members.

This role is all about giving members an intuitive, user-friendly experience when they interact with ASC.

·         Awards coordinator volunteer – Help ASC shine a light on those who have been doing great work, often without recognition, in science engagement in Australia.

This role provides the coordinating link between members and the committee for awards collation for the presentation of the Annual ASC Unsung Hero Awards. There is also scope within this role to review current and potential future ASC Awards.

Each role is remote, and can be done from anywhere in Australia, and comes with an honorarium in acknowledgement of the time and effort. For more information please visit the website for full position descriptions, and to apply send a short (2 page maximum) CV and a few sentences outlining your interest in the role to office@asc.asn.au with VOLUNTEER in the subject header by Monday 31 August.

Each role is 12 months.



Members Q&A series – Bobby Cerini 7 August 2020

What is the future of interactivity for hands-on science discovery centres like Questacon? There are huge challenges ahead as museums, science centres and galleries adapt to ‘the new normal’.
Join us for the next installation of our Q&A series with Dr Bobby Cerini, Deputy Director and General Manager of Science and Learning at Questacon as we explore the challenges and opportunities 2020 has thrown at this sector of science engagement.

Friday 7 August

4pm AEST (BYO knock off drinks!)

via Zoom webinar

Register now via this link

This event is free for all current ASC members – to join or check your membership status visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/

Members Q&A series – Joan Leach 24 July 2020

Join us for the next event in our members Q&A series where we will be joined by Joan Leach, Director Director of the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the ANU (colloquially known as ‘CPAS’) since January 2016.

CPAS’s research and teaching interests are varied and interdisciplinary- covering science communication, public engagement, policy, knowledge brokering, risk, and ethics. We’ll explore how CPAS is responding to the challenges and opportunities this year has thrown at us, what sci-com research we should be paying attention to and how sci-com teaching at CPAS has translated to online delivery.

Friday 24 July

4pm AEST (BYO knock off drinks!)

via Zoom webinar

Register now via this link

This event is free for all current ASC members – to join or check your membership status visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/




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