Hannah Brown, a researcher in early pregnancy health from Adelaide, says that there is nothing else like Science meets Parliament.
A delegate in 2016 and 2017, Hannah connected with several MPs through meetings and the annual Gala Dinner, including Craig Laundy MP (then Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science), Terri Butler MP, and she met with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“You appreciate how genuinely engaged our leaders are when it comes to issues of science and technology,” Hannah said, “and you learn about the human behind the politics.”
“I was lucky enough to have Craig Laundy visit our Research Centre a few months after my visit to Canberra, thanks to Science meets Parliament, and host his tour around the University.
“Not only did I get the chance to speak to him about some of the important barriers and obstacle for research in Australia – like job security and unforgiving funding cycles – but we also bonded over our love of footy.”
Hannah said the most valuable lesson she learned from attending Science meets Parliament was to remember that even though politicians are passionate about their job and their responsibilities, they are humans with complex lives and other interests too.
“It’s possible to build real relationships and have influence by investing in getting to know someone first,” she said, “scientists and politicians are actually driven by common goals – we all want to make a positive difference in this world.”
“It’s the understanding that we’re all out to create solutions that really helped me focus my pitch when speaking with the leaders I met in Canberra. And I enjoyed the opportunity to explore the person behind the party and policy immensely! ”
She said on top of the professional development and the connections to politicians she gained as a delegate, the chance to meet other amazing researchers was an enduring highlight for her.
“The diverse list of attendees meant had the opportunity to meet scientists and communicators I may never have had the chance to meet if I hadn’t attended,” Hannah said.
“There were even people from my own University, who work in distant fields, who I managed to connect with at Science meets Parliament and have begun collaborating with since.”
“I am really grateful for the Science meets Parliament event. It’s created unexpected opportunities, friendships and relationships and I’m definitely looking forward to the next chat about footy (and innovation policy) with Minister Laundy again soon.”
Science meets Parliament is held annually in Canberra and all STA members are invited to select delegates to attend. Find out how you can be involved in the next SmP.