Notice of the ASC Annual General Meeting, Adelaide, 22 February 2017

This is the official notice of the Australian Science Communicators’ Annual General Meeting, to be held in Adelaide, South Australia on 22 February 2017.

The AGM is an opportunity for members to hear about the year’s events at the national level, and also to have their say about what should happen in the year to come. It also includes reports from the President and Treasurer.

When: Wednesday 22 February 2017, 6.00pm ACDT
Where: The Historian Hotel, 18 Coromandel Place, Adelaide CBD
Only financial ASC members are eligible to attend the AGM.

Members also have the chance to elect a new National President. Proposed agenda items, notices of motion and presidential nominations must be received by Wednesday 15 February 2017 and can be sent to Sarah Lau, National Secretary (

Note that notices of motion require a proposer and a seconder, and nominations for President need to be agreed by the nominee.

Members unable to attend the AGM in person are able to give proxies to other members attending the meeting, or alternatively, send them to Sarah Lau, National Secretary. Instructions for nominating proxies and voting instructions will be circulated prior to the AGM along with the final notification of official business.

The following items are current as of 6 February 2017:


ASC Constitution, 2015 Special General Meeting and 2015 AGM

The ASC Constitution was reviewed and adopted at a Special General Meeting in Canberra on 18 November 2015.
The Constitution is available here.
The minutes from the Special General Meeting are available here.

The ASC Annual General Meeting was held on 19 November 2015.
The minutes from the Annual General meeting are available here.

For queries and corrections, please contact

President’s update

ASC—its future

  • Conference! Brisbane, 11 March 2016
  • We are focused on serving members better
  • Fees to rise following epic audit

Executive Summary

Australian Science Communicators is the national forum for science communicators and science journalists. We are independent from government and run by members, for members.

Going forwards, our mission is to:

  • Better support our national network of science communicators and science journalists by providing professional development and networking opportunities;
  • Increase our direct support for branches and members located in both metropolitan and regional areas; and
  • Strengthen partnerships and relationships with our corporate members, partner organisations and key stakeholders.

In recent times, volunteer-driven associations like the ASC have come under pressure from growing operating costs and a greater need for regulatory compliance. Some have failed to overcome these challenges and have ceased to exist.

For this reason, throughout the past year we have invested a lot of time and effort into ensuring our finances and regulatory compliance are robust and up to date. Recently, this process came to an end and we have been given a clean bill of health after a professional audit and bookkeeping services.

Free of risk and uncertainty in these areas, the association has a strong platform on which to grow, but we do have some challenges to overcome.

This month the ASC executive, along with nominated representatives from state branches, met in Canberra for a special general meeting, a 2-day strategy meeting and our 2015 AGM. During these discussions we scrutinised the ASC’s operations, reworked the constitution and developed a strong plan for the future. I thank the branch and committee representatives for their time and energy in helping define the future of ASC.

  1. We now have a legal constitution – over the years and in response to all kinds of issues, the constitution had been ‘tinkered with’, with parts added and removed. Unfortunately, because of the shape it was in, our not-for-profit status was very much at risk. Thanks to Toss Gascoigne for his time in helping us craft a compliant constitution and lodging it.
  2. We have had a robust audit of the ASC finances (18 months in the doing). We’ve updated our processes and identified areas where we need to change or even eliminate suppliers and services. Importantly, we now know where we stand financially and at this month’s AGM were able to present the financials and show that the ASC cannot survive based on its current membership dues. Thank you to Pete Wheeler, our treasurer, and Kali Madden, our executive officer, for getting ASC in a much better place after a white-knuckle ride.
  3. The strategy meeting was incredibly useful for talking about what members want and how, as a volunteer organisation, we can deliver that. Here were the key discussions and outcomes:
    1. Networking. The ASC is a valuable network of communication professionals, academics, freelancers, students, and journalists.  We want to better support the network and bolster the channels through which we communicate as a network. ASC has one of the best mailing lists (as in listserve) in the science engagement world.  Through it our members announce events, job opportunities and occasionally have heated discussions. We also have a Facebook group, individual Facebook pages, and 2 LinkedIn groups (one public, one private). Then there’s the ASC website which supports members and we’re also currently hosting various other sites with premier content that our members want (sciencengage, no funny business etc.). These activities all have associated costs for which we now need to budget.
    2. Conference. We’ll be holding our next conference in 2016 on March 11 at QUT’s fabulous ROOM360 (for the views it has over Brisbane) during the World Festival of Science.  The conference is an extremely valuable networking and professional development activity, but it is volunteer driven and like any national conference has significant costs involved to make it happen.
    3. Professional Development. In the past year we have initiated a professional development grants program that has already generated benefits for members around the country. We want to expand this, and again it requires time, energy and some funding to make that possible.
    4. Webinars. ASC has the capacity to host web based events on topics of interest to our members. As part of our commitment to delivering benefits to members wherever they may be, we will be rolling out 6 of these across 2016.

However, our finances reveal that the ASC has been operating at a loss for some years, propped up by extraordinary and unsustainable volunteerism generating some profit from conferences.  We cannot continue to do this—it undervalues the ASC and the important work that our members do.  This means the cost of membership needs to increase for the ASC to be a viable association that can actually support branches and members.  We are still committed to our non-profit status, but it is illegal for non-profits to operate at a loss. We need to be sustainable and set the membership fee at a sustainable level.  So, as of 1 January 2016 the new membership fee will be $185.00 for members, $85.00 for students and associates.  We will honour current rates until then.

We appreciate that some members will be disappointed by an increase in their membership fees. But at this critical time for the ASC, we hope that the majority of members will choose to show their support by renewing their memberships and in so doing, help us to build a better, more sustainable and professional association that can deliver greater outcomes for professional science communicators and science journalists throughout the country. Of course, we would like to be thoughtful about our approach and we invite comment from members by emailing

Thanks to all for your ongoing support.

Professor Joan Leach

ASC President


President’s Update

Thank you to Joan Leach for the President’s Update.

Save the date! 11 March 2016

I’m very pleased to announce that the next ASC conference will be in Brisbane in March 2016. We have tried to tie in our next meeting with the World Festival of Science so that our members who are involved can make their travel dollars go further. Also, we hope that as the WFS announces its program ASC members might satisfy their curiosity at the festival and enjoy networking time with ASC members as well. Our venue and program will be announced shortly. But, circle that date and plan to be in Brisbane. We’re going to organise the 2016 conference into one packed day for ASC and break out events during the World Festival of Science. More news coming…

Issues for AGM?

ASC is gearing up for its AGM and a SGM to consider the ASC constitution. If you have any queries you would like to put to me personally, please do so at I’m also very interested to hear about colleagues who would like to join the executive of ASC so please get in touch if you’d like to get more involved.

President’s update

Thank you to Joan Leach for the President’s update.

Season’s Greetings

It’s that time of year when every organisation needs to get in its AGM, settle its accounts, and clear its books! While this is not the most festive of activities, it does signal the end of the year and time for a bit of reckoning. I’m very pleased to say that the ASC is going very well indeed. We held the AGM at ANU CPAS (Centre for Public Awareness of Science) in the famed green couch room on the 5th of December. Some highlights from the AGM:
  • On behalf of the membership, I thanked our voluntary executive for 2014—Pete Wheeler (Treasurer), Sarah Lau (Secretary), Claire Harris (VP and Communications team), Ian McDonald (Grants program), Will Grant (VP), and our amazing executive officer, Kali Madden.
  • We learned that we are solvent and our treasurer and executive officer (with help from our bookkeeper/auditor) are looking at the details of our tax situation and our status as a not-for-profit. We hope to finalise our books by the end of the year.
  • Ian McDonald announced the winners of our inaugural grant round (see more on this in this issue of SCOPE)
  • We discussed upcoming conference opportunities and an ASC strategy to give our members more chances to interact
  • We learned about some of the stellar events our branches have put on this year—this gave us a lot to think about as the most successful branches are hitting the sweet spot of offering members a few signature events each year, not overloading the calendar, but putting their best into some quality networking events.
  • I was delighted to accept the Presidential nomination and will serve as ASC president for 2015.
The year has ended on a very high note for me, though continued reports of cutting in the area of communications from many organisations is gloomy. I’ll address the ‘highs’ here and ASC will continue to try to tackle the lows by advocating for science communication at every opportunity. My ‘end of the year event’ was a science policy workshop run at the Academy of Science on the 5th of December.  You can check it out here. It was a rather incredible day where scholars, communicators, and policy-makers discussed some of the key features of using humanities and social research to effect policy and communicate effectively (spoiler: go to Cameron Muir’s talk about narrative; powerful stuff!). At the event, I was struck at the  number of science communicators in the audience and very pleased to hear sci comm concerns getting equal billing on the day. That day underscored for me the need for science communicators and this was clearly endorsed by the policy makers in the room.

I hope that everyone takes a bit of time out at the end of the year to recharge and connect with friends and family.  I look forward to starting afresh in the New Year.

Official Notice of ASC National AGM – Canberra, 5 December 2014

This is the official notice of the Australian Science Communicators’ Annual General Meeting, to be held in Canberra, ACT on 5 December 2014.

The AGM is an opportunity for members to hear about the year’s events at the national level, and also to have their say about what should happen in the year to come. It also includes reports from the President and Treasurer.

When: Friday 5 December 2014, 6.00pm
Where: Physics Link Building, Building 38A at ANU (Ground Floor)
RSVP: via Eventbrite
Cost: free for ASC members (only currently financial ASC members are eligible to attend the AGM)

Presidential Nomination

I am pleased to announce Associate Professor Joan Leach, from the University of Queensland and current ASC President, has been nominated for the role of ASC President in 2015. Read Joan’s nomination statement.


Members unable to attend the AGM in person are able to give proxies to other members attending the meeting. This means that unless members are at the physical meeting in Canberra, you will need to designate a proxy to vote.

To designate your proxy:

  • Download and complete the proxy form, and ensure a copy of this form is with your proxy to take to the AGM (Appointment of Proxy 2014)
    • Check one box only for the proposed Constitutional amendment
    • If you do not provide voting instructions in these sections, you authorise the proxy holder to decide how the proxy will vote
    • Notify the National Secretary, Sarah Lau ( – this must be done or the proxy and vote is not considered valid
    • Ensure that the proxy form is completed prior to 4.00pm ADST on Friday 5 December 2014

Please note that votes will remain confidential at all times. All voting instructions and proxy forms will be collected and destroyed at the conclusion of the AGM.

Australian Science Communicators
Annual General Meeting 2014

Items for Discussion

  1. Confirmation of members attending, apologies
  2. Notification of proxies
  3. Minutes of 2013 AGM
  4. President’s report
    1. Discussion: ASC national conferences
    2. Discussion: Branch management and national support during periods of decreased activity
  5. Treasurer’s report
    1. presentation of statement of accounts
    2. determination of annual membership fee
    3. determination of capitation to be returned to branches
    4. determination of honoraria
    5. appointment of auditor
    6. appointment of public officer
    7. preview of 2015 budget
  6. Election of 2015 ASC President
  7. Motion to amend the Constitution
    1. 4.3 Membership: “Membership fees will be adjusted annually in line with the Consumer Price Index”
  8. Branch matters and annual reporting
  9. Announcement of ASC Grants Program recipients
  10. Any other business


Further information

2014 AGM agenda 141127
ASC AGM 2013 Draft Minutes Web
ASC AGM Constitution Change Notice 141127
Appointment of Proxy 2014


Victorian 2014 special general meeting

15 April 2014
6:00 pmto8:00 pm
6:00 pmto8:00 pm
6:00 pmto8:00 pm
6:00 pmto8:00 pm

Missed the ASC conference? Haven’t yet caught up on all your podcasting? Join your ASC Vic colleagues and share the best bits of the conference together.This is your chance to continue discussions started at the conference, chat to your fellow ASC Vic members and have a say in the ASC Vic branch committee.

Continue reading

South East Queensland AGM 2014

27 February 2014
6:00 pmto7:00 pm
6:00 pmto7:00 pm

Save the date!

The south east Queensland AGM will be happening 27 Feb 2014.

Time: 6-7pm

Venue: TBC in South Brisbane or West End

RSVP and suggestions:

Please watch this space for further details.

Updates from the ASC AGM 2013 – minutes and amendments to the Constitution

The draft minutes from the 2013 AGM can now be viewed via this link:

131129 ASC AGM 2013 Draft Minutes

The 2013 AGM voted in favour of the proposed amendment to the Constitution regarding two additions to address the Not-For-Profit status of the organisation. The updated Constitution showing all the changes since it was adopted in 2003 can be viewed via this link:

Constitution amended 2006, 07, 08, 10, 11, 12, 13 with wording as of 29 Nov 2013

Sarah Lau
National Secretary

President’s update: reflecting on a successful AGM

Thank you to Claire Harris for this president’s update.

This is my last update from the 2013 President chair.

For this last edition of Scope I wanted to briefly summarise the AGM but also have a bit of a muse.

The AGM, held in Canberra on the 29th November, covered a range of important items including reviewing the year that was and discussing the future that could be. I posted a summary to the ASC mailing list.

The AGM elected Joan Leach as new President for 2014 and I congratulate her on taking on the role. Our finances are stable, we have made significant upgrades to our online infrastructure and our administration, and our branches have run a range of events and activities this year and I congratulate them for all they have achieved. We honoured David Ellyard as ASC life member. David was National Treasurer and President for over ten years.

Joan Leach is probably well known to many of you. Particularly if you are from Brisbane or studied at The University of Queensland. I first met Joan when I studied my Grad Dip in Communication at UQ. Joan was inspirational and energetic and really opened my eyes to science communication as a discipline and some of the great scientific debates and controversies of our time (such as health effects from silicon breast implants and mad cow disease).

I have recently been wondering if times have gotten tougher in sci comm. We are all advocates of communication/education/engagement/journalism etc. as a vital part of society’s relationship with science, technology, engineering, maths, innovation etc.. But some people I talk to are concerned about how challenging it is to keep up to date and not feel fragmented and how to keep going against the strong tides of apathy, hostility, politicisation, exhaustion and decreasing science (and sci comm??) funding… (If anyone has some stats – please let me know or comment below.)

I reflected on the ‘Science engagement in Australia is a 20th century toy’ article in The Conversation, published earlier in the year. Many I talk with agree with the need to ‘do better’ but that often the challenges around securing resourcing and support for more ‘well-rounded’ science engagement are too great. How can we shift the valuing of science engagement effectively without burning people out in the process? I’m very buoyed by what will be covered at the conference and am hoping the ‘impact’ part of our theme: Insight, Impact, Innovation comes out strongly.

Thinking about the ASC backyard, something that I have come across in most ASC members is a real integrity and spark of energy. Quite often there is a heady mix of creativity, nous and drive. There is undoubtedly passion.

Also undoubted, in my mind, is that we (the wider collective) are progressing in the right direction, with a national Inspiring Australia strategy for science engagement (which ASC continues to contribute to), science communication research and networks of people sharing their ideas and experiences to continue to push boundaries. Members of this community are contributing to expert working groups and are helping to pull together ground-breaking assessments. Just have a browse through the Inspiring Australia site full of stories and events or explore this website a bit more.

I think this particular member-based organisation is gaining strength at its 20 year anniversary – but this is not without challenges. Can the ASC explore different benefits or directions? Definitely. So a request to you, if I may, is (and this isn’t new) connect with others about what you think and what you will do to make a difference and change things. Will you canvass members near you to put forward an idea for funding or support? Will you start that special interest group (SIG) you’ve been talking about for ages? Will you help as an expert in your field to help others around you rather than expect that they will be able to get up to speed themselves? We know that many of the branches are canvassing members to find out how to offer what is needed, so will you work with your state branch reps to figure this out?

The ASC, only has one paid, part-time employee. But this doesn’t cancel out that there are brilliant opportunities for ground-up collective action. ASC provides a thread that connects you to 20 years of people (and their contacts) who are passionate and creative and value discussion of science and how it can be more effectively communicated in these times… Just like you.