Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Four Academies Are Working Together

By Robin Batterham

Australia’s four learned academies are integrating their expertise in science, technology, social science and humanities to form a better evidence base for advice to government.

Professor Robin Batterham AO FREng FAA FTSE finishes his term as President of ATSE in December. He is a former Chief Scientist for Australia and was Rio Tinto’s most senior scientist before taking his current appointment as the Kernot Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

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The appointment of Professor Ian Chubb as the government’s Chief Scientist and the associated overhaul of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) have resulted in one of the most interesting – and potentially productive – intersections between science and policy in recent times.

It has resulted in a much more coordinated linkage between the four learned academies based on a recognition that many of the key issues facing the country depend for policy development on the skills and experience of scientists, applied scientists, social scientists and humanists.

It recognises that no one group has all the answers, and takes the bold step of encouraging integration of thinking and energy among them to support development of a better Australia for all Australians. One of the nation’s most exciting challenges has been the result.

This has been enabled by the developments associated with the announcement in June of an Australian Research Council grant of $10 million to the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), through which the learned academies cooperate. The purpose of the grant was to give the Chief Scientist and PMSEIC a strong evidence base on which to recommend new policies aimed at securing a strong, fair and productive future for Australia.

A major challenge for government is to identify mechanisms that...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.