Statement on the Russian war

From the Co-Presidents

We are a group of science communicators. Many of us act in roles that require impartial observation and conscientiously unbiased reportage. We therefore typically avoid declarations of support for either side in an ongoing debate. A journalist should not advocate. A public servant should not lobby. A scientist should not express subjective opinions.

Regardless of our professional roles, as a community we can agree: war is devastating.

We are devastated by the loss of life and the grievous suffering inflicted upon the Ukrainian people. We are devastated by the pointless death of Russian soldiers, caused at the decree  of their leaders. We are devastated by how this conflict has impacted the global community and will continue to harm humanity for years to come.

The Australian Science Communicators thoroughly condemn this war and the Russian leaders who continue to choose to not end it.

The Australian Science Communicators thoroughly condemn this war and the Russian leaders who continue to choose not to end it.

We call on our members (and those who are not yet members) to join us in finding ways to voice our abhorrence of the unnecessary harm caused to those impacted by this conflict. We call on our friends here and abroad to do whatever they can to support those in need. We call on all international governments to contribute in whatever way possible to end the suffering.

We know a statement won’t suddenly halt the conflict. Other, bigger organizations with greater geopolitical relevance have delivered statements on massive platforms, with sadly little impact, to date. But we also know that words can create powerful bonds between people.

Communication is, at its core, a bridge between people; a way to convey understanding, share perspective, and build compassion.

In Australia, ANZAC day is only a few short weeks away. Lest we forget the horrors caused by conflict, let us not slide into the error of glorifying battle. The true cost of war is not limited to the sum of dollars, hryvnia, ruble, or even the sum of land and material possessions lost. It is the countless lives ruined, the immeasurable pain inflicted upon generations, and the incalculable loss of progress toward a brighter and more prosperous future for humanity.

Finally, we know that many in or coming to Australia have ties to either Ukraine or Russia. Our community sees you. We remind ourselves and encourage others to resist the emotive reaction of blame and hatred towards an entire culture whose current leadership has failed them and harmed us all. The creation of an ‘other’ can only lead to further division and pain. While it will feel too soon for many, communication and compassion is the path to recovery.

The ASC Working Groups

We know that we can do things better – but what do we need to do first?

As the Executive Committee, we were elected by you to represent the membership in its decision-making. Over the past few months, we’ve initiated a process of reviewing the current situation that the ASC finds itself in, and to prioritise short, medium and long term activities that will make the ASC more resilient to external pressures, more valuable to its members, and more relevant within the sector.

There’s so much opportunity for us to grow the ASC into an even more vibrant community and an association that gives back to members.

To this end, we are in the process of standing up seven working groups to support the Executive Committee and the broader membership, in the hope of establishing some momentum into the future.

We know that the best ideas come from diversity. We ask that you consider supporting the community by contributing to these working groups over the coming months.

It is still early days, but we are seeking expressions of interest from the membership to support this work. Soon, we will have formalised terms of reference for these groups and role description/expectations. For now, please put your details into this form even if you don’t think you’ll have time to be a formal member of the working group, but have something that may be worth contributing to one or more of the groups.

The seven working groups are:

  • Strategy Group
    • To discuss the strategic priorities of the ASC, where the association should strive to be in 10 years, and to develop a forward looking and aspirational strategic plan.
  • Finance Group
    • To discuss financial issues and set a forward plan for stability, recommend income generation to fund projects and staff, and support other projects with the Treasurer.
  • Membership and Branch Group
    • To determine who the members are, why they become members, and how we can better provide value for their membership. In addition, this group will make recommendations on how to support local branches more effectively.
  • Communications Group
    • Building off the work from other groups, this team will seek to find ways we can better communicate with each other and the wider community.
  • Stakeholder Engagement Group
    • To discuss international and national engagement with other businesses and organisations, and to develop recommendations on key relationships to foster to best support our strategic goals.
  • Awards and Bursaries Group
    • Investigate the current awards and bursaries landscape in the sector, recommend a suite of supports, and recommend on sponsor opportunities for supporting the awards.
  • Events and Conference Group
    • To recommend and curate a series of nationally relevant and accessible events, and to contribute to conference coordination.