It was the 20th year of Science meets Parliament, an important occasion for science, policy and parliamentarians to come together in Canberra: twenty years of enduring connections, conversations and sparking change.
Day 1 of Science meets Parliament gives delegates the opportunity to listen, learn, share and inspire.
Hundreds of researchers and innovators from across the country came together to hear from key figures in Australian science, connect with passionate and curious colleagues, learn about the policy and decision-making process, and participate in professional development.
Conversations bubble from the very first steps delegates take into this conference. The moment people enter this space it becomes clear that we are all here for one reason: to communicate.
There’s a real excitement in the room. You can see the passion that people hold for science, innovation and solving real world problems.
In the keynote address, Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood, 2004 Australian of the Year, highlighted the need for crucial communications. She encourages us all to learn, to communicate well, and to connect with each other.
“To communicate is another challenge. It’s an extraordinary challenge.
“We’re living in the communication age. Why is it then, that we find it so hard to communicate?
“It’s because we have so much to say. Science and technology has so much to say.”
The message of the need for communication was throughout the day. Science Chiefs Professor Gary Evans and Dr Alan Finkel talked about what we can learn from working across the Tasman, and shared insider knowledge on being effective science communicators.
Their advice? “It’s a two-way conversation and listen before providing advice.”
The theme of communication weaved throughout the day. There were exciting success stories about science and technology on the Hill, a lay of the land working inside and outside of politics in Canberra, tough questions at mock Parliamentary enquiries, quick tips for communicating science in every context, a recipe for how to form an effective pitch, hints and tips for networking like a pro, and real-life advice for using social media to promote science.
The day centred on preparing delegates for meetings with Parliamentarians. Delegates heard practical tips for meeting with politicians: “Be prepared, be personable and be passionate. Remember you’re speaking to another person who is genuinely giving you some of their time – they are listening.”
Finally, there were hands on workshops for delegates to practice their pitches so they were all shiny and ready for meeting Parliamentarians the next day.
Day One ended in style with the Science meets Parliament Gala dinner. Parliamentarians, VIPs, invited guests and delegates came together for a celebration of science, which included addresses from Minister for Science Karen Andrews MP and Shadow Minister for Science Brendan O’Connor.
Communication skills were truly put to the test on Day Two. 247 STEM professionals participated in more than 60 meetings at Parliament House, starting essential conversations and collaborations between the worlds of Science and Politics.
It was encouraging to see the mutual respect between scientists who intensely prepared for these meetings and the politicians who have kindly given their time to listen, engage and ensure that science stays on the political agenda.
The annual Science meets Parliament National Press Club address was a powerful and important speech by Women in STEM Ambassador Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith encouraging us all to inspire the next generation of women scientists.
Amongst all these meetings, Science meets Parliament continued to deliver a packed schedule with a variety of talks, panels, parliamentary tours and networking sessions. Highlights included: Meet the Chiefs, Parliamentary Panel, Parliament House beekeeping and geology tours, and concluded with a Parliamentary Friends of Science drinks.
Thanks to all of our sponsors, delegates, member organisations and speakers – we couldn’t do it without you!