Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program continues

Thursday, 25 February 2021

The Australian Science Policy Fellowship program, an initiative of the Office of the Chief Scientist, is now an ongoing program having been endorsed by the Secretaries Board of the Australian Public Service.

“I am pleased to champion this successful program, and acknowledge the work of my predecessor, Dr Alan Finkel, in initiating it three years ago,” says Dr Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist.

The Fellowship program launched in July 2018, and in that time has placed 31 Science Policy Fellows across 11 Commonwealth government departments. The program grows the diversity of expertise in the APS by providing a pathway for scientists to become policy officers across government. The Fellows bring a highly valued skillset, including data and analytical skills, and fresh perspectives on policy work.

The program evaluation showed that it delivered value to host departments, with host teams recognising that the Fellows’ transferable STEM skills aided policy analysis and development.

The Fellows also benefited though the unique experiences offered, increasing their knowledge and skills in policy making, and leading them to a career with a variety of opportunities. Since completing the Fellowship, the vast majority of Fellows have moved into ongoing positions within the APS.

“The program has made a huge difference because it allowed me to take my career in a new direction, while still recognising and valuing the skills I had developed as a research scientist,” says Dr Kim van Netten, an alumnus of the program’s 2018-19 cohort. Kim has remained in the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and is currently working as an Executive Officer.

Dr Bryant Gagliardi, also from the first cohort who has remained in the APS, moving from his original host department to the Chemicals Management Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

“Before the program, I wasn’t totally clear about how a science-trained person would fit into the policy workforce. The overall package of the SPF though, from the application and interview processes, to the on-boarding and training, to the work itself, helped to hone my understanding of the whole system,” Bryant says.

“It’s opened up a variety of career options in government science and policy work for me, all of which had seemed somewhat mysterious previously.”

Along with increasing diversity, improving the availability of science-related skills within government is one of the main priorities highlighted in the Independent Review of the Public Service.

“I’m inspired by the talent and passion of our Fellows and excited to see the how their contributions elevate and embrace the role of science in policy,” says Dr Foley.

“Continuing this program will make a difference to ensuring science advice continues to be at the heart of government policy making.”

Applications for the 2021-22 cohort will open in April, so please keep an eye on our website for more details:

Last updated: Thursday, 25 February 2021