The research sector is experiencing the longest delays to Australian Research Council (ARC) funding announcements in history .
Leaders of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector – representing tens of thousands of STEM professionals from across Australia – are meeting in Melbourne today, and have collectively called for urgent action from government to address this delay.
The ARC funding announced this year will support projects required to begin on 1 January, and researchers have turned to Twitter to share their frustrations as the window for adequate preparation closes.
President of Science & Technology Australia, Professor Emma Johnston AO, said the delay was unacceptable and now presented a significant risk to the national interest.
“Not only will we begin to lose researchers to more secure jobs offers from overseas, but there will also be delays in project start dates,” Professor Johnston said.
“If we want to attract the best staff to keep Australian research ahead of the curve, we cannot treat them this way.”
“We have seen many women and men turn to social media to vent their frustrations, and we hope that their voices are being heeded by decision-makers.”
The hashtag #ARCdelay has gathered momentum as the delay extends further and job security becomes an urgent issue for scientists coming to the end of their funding cycle.
“We must act on this delay immediately – we need to reward researchers for their hard work and dedication,” Professor Johnston said.
“We understand the delay is due to a new ‘national interest test’ being introduced by the Minister for Education, and we feel it is unfair to retrospectively develop and implement such a test.”
“Researchers already describe the benefits of their research and align their work with National Priorities as part of their application, and this is considered as a part of the peer-reviewed assessment process.”
She says STEM leaders call on the Minister for Education to develop and implement any new ‘national interest test’ in 2019, and refrain from further delaying research funding announcements.
“This delay is having significant negative effects on people lives, and it’s grossly unfair to string them along without a clear reason for doing so.”
 since the ARC was made an independent body by the Australian Research Council Act 2001
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