National Science and Technology Council: Twelfth meeting

The twelfth meeting of the National Science and Technology Council was held via videoconference on 24 March 2022. The meeting was chaired by the Council’s Executive Officer, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM.

The Hon Melissa Price MP, Minister for Science and Technology, opened the meeting and welcomed members and guests, including the Council’s two new expert members, Emeritus Professor Cheryl Praeger and Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie. Minister Price also acknowledged the service of former Council members Professor Barbara Howeltt and Professor Geordie Williamson. The meeting was also attended by guests from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), and the Office of the Hon Stuart Robert MP, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business and Acting Minister for Education and Youth.

The Council was briefed by a representative of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on the Government’s University Research Commercialisation Scheme and National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. Council members discussed a range of issues, including the value of industry-led national missions, how to best design and attract students to industry PhD programs, and the need to take a system-wide view of research and commercialisation to ensure that researchers’ experience in academia and industry are both recognised.

Led by Dr Foley and Emeritus Professor Debra Henly, the Council and guests discussed how improving awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career pathways can support future Australian industries. Key insights were provided, including the benefits of focusing on key skillsets, the importance of including sectors from across the economy, the role that Vocational Education and Training and postgraduate education, and the need for clear communication of pathways to students at all levels. 

Dr Foley invited members to share insights from their relevant fields of expertise. Members raised topics of interest including what tools could be used to plan for relocating or rebuilding in flood-affected areas, health science opportunities in the defence space, and the potential impacts of digital technologies that constitute the ‘metaverse.’

The next Council meeting will be held in mid-2022.