ACCESS-NRI at Science Meets Parliament 

May 21, 2024

Last March, Science Meets Parliament (SMP), organised by Science and Technology Australia (STA) took place in Canberra. This annual two-day event aims to forge deeper connections between those working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the nation’s key decision and policy makers. 

Over 360 delegates and more than 90 parliamentarians participated in the event, including ACCESS-NRI’s Associate Director, Kelsey Druken, Atmosphere Modelling Team Leader, Heidi Nettelbeck, and Outreach and Engagement Manager, Natalia Bateman. 

Kelsey, Heidi and Natalia met with federal Parliamentarians to share and promote the work of the ACCESS National Research Infrastructure. These Parliamentarians included MP Tania Lawrence, Member for Hasluck, WA; MP Zali Steggall, Member for Warringah, NSW, and Janet Rice, Senator for Victoria. 

Our ACCESS-NRI Board member, John Byron, also participated in the event as a panelist for the session “Presence, prescience and poise: the role of policy advisors”, where he gave an insightful perspective onf his role and experience. 

SMP also offered the chance to upskill on how to engage effectively with government stakeholders, including pitching complex science concepts to parliamentarians and the media.  

As noted by Professor Brian Schmidt during his presentation, “SMP is a unique event in the world that links researchers with policymakers. Solutions need a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, and policy makers need to make sure their policies are evidence-based”. 

Climate change was present in almost every session as one of the major challenges we are facing globally. Professor Emma Johnston noted that “engagement with the government is vital, as we urgently need effective solutions to pressing global challenges like climate change”, and Minister for Science, Ed Husic, highlighted that “clearly one of our major challenges is to mitigate the ways climate change manifest globally.” 

CSIRO Professor Doug Hilton, a panelist in the session “How do Australia’s Parliamentarians and political parties see the role of science, expertise and evidence?”, pointed out that an important role of science is to “provide hope, optimism and wonder”.  

A highlight of the event was the Indigenous engagement session “Next steps to elevate and invest in First Nations Knowledges as a priority”, in which several indigenous STEM researchers discussed what we must do to ensure indigenous knowledge has dedicated attention within the National Science and Research priorities.  

Overall, it was an enriching experience and we would like to thank STA for putting together such an enjoyable program.  


SMP Useful Tips: Do and don’t do to engage with policymakers 

Do: Listen; think about your audience, ask yourself with discipline “so what?”; pick up the language they use; highlight the downside of inaction; provide 1-page briefs; follow up; be frank, succint, honest and kind; be clear about the purpose of your engagement. 

Don’t: be inflexible; assume they care about your issue; burn bridges, give up. 



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