Science Meets Parliament 2021
Diana Ramirez Garces, Australian National University
During March, I attended Science Meets Parliament (SmP). I am happy I did, and I am thankful for ASPS support. This year, except for the gala dinner and the speech of the Chief Scientist Dr. Cathy Foley at the National Press Conference, the event was online. Although this format imposed some challenges, it permitted to extend the program with workshops prior and after the main two-day event. All sessions were recorded and accessible on demand, which made easier to accommodate the SmP in a busy schedule. In addition, networking and meeting of delegates was facilitated by implementing an ‘open zoom bar’ setting on different days. I particularly enjoyed the pre-workshops ‘Understanding Machinery of Government’ and ‘How to Marie Kondo’ your writing’. During the session ‘How to engage with advisors’, Anna-Maria Arabia (The Australian Academy of Science CEO) and Harry Godber (a policy advisor of senior ministers) provided interesting insights into the advisory role and this motivated me to seriously consider a career change. Most sessions were organised as conversations and the speakers integrated discussions and questions from the audience. One of the highlights of SmP is the meeting of delegates with a Parliamentary. But no panic! To help you prepare the meeting, the organisers devoted an entire session to deliver key points to build your pitch, to rehearse it and get professional feedback. I participated in SmP because, over the past years, I became more appreciative of the role of policy makers and the impact of evidence-based decisions in our daily lives. The Covid-19 pandemic changed transcendentally my awareness towards science policy and made me reflect on my role as scientist. I wanted, therefore, to begin to understand policy processes and how science peak bodies and other organisations articulate with public service and Parliamentary activities. The event promised to be an excellent opportunity to picture the Australian science landscape, its leading voices, and institutions. I also hoped SmP woud be a good place to start exploring the idea of a career transition. The program met all these expectations. But you don’t need to wait to have a plethora of reasons to attend nor any prior knowledge. I had a wonderful experience and I highly encourage you to participate. If you are slightly curious about SmP, like I was a few years back when I first heard about it, then you must attend. All you need is a desire to get inspired by incredible people!
Photo: ‘New to Canberra’ session where experts explained how media, public service and advocacy groups engage to influence policy priorities. Top left panel: Misha Schubert (CEO, Science and Technology Australia); top right panel: Feyi Akindoyeni (Partner and Office Head, New Gate Communications); lower left panel: Rachel Obradovic (Director CT Group); lower right panel: David Fredericks (Secretary Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources).