Key points
from Australia's National Science Statement

The National Science Statement sets a long‑term approach to science, providing guidance for government investment and decision making and clarity on strategic aims.

What is meant by 'science'?

Natural, physical and life sciences, including medical and health sciences, mathematics, engineering and technology‑related disciplines.

This includes the full spectrum from basic to applied scientific research in both the public and private sectors, and the infrastructure, skills, institutions, knowledge and policies that make it possible.

The government's vision is for an Australian society engaged in and enriched by science

This means achieving four objectives:

engaging all Australians with science

building our scientific capability and skills

producing new research, knowledge and technologies

improving and enriching Australians' lives through science and research

To realise its vision, the government will act in three leadership roles:

supporting science by providing funding and other resources for the spectrum of basic to applied scientific research, critical scientific infrastructure and equipment, and science and mathematics education, directly investing in Australia's future
participating in science by producing, using and sharing research, data and information, operating scientific research infrastructure and engaging with science internationally
enabling science by setting institutional arrangements that shape the science system and its interactions with business and the community, including the translation of research into economic and other benefits.

In supporting science, developing science policies and carrying out science-related activities and decisions, the government will:

  • recognise that science is fundamental to the economy and social wellbeing, and core to the mission of the government, as part of a multidisciplinary research ecosystem
  • ensure that scientific research investment is focused on high‑quality research, Australia's scientific strengths and agreed science and research priorities
  • ensure that support across the spectrum of basic to applied research is stable and predictable
  • encourage and support collaboration across disciplines, across sectors and across international borders
  • ensure that opportunities for all Australians to engage with all aspects of the science process are maximised
  • show and promote leadership in actively addressing inequality in science education, participation nd employment
  • measure and report performance of the science system as a whole and government agencies individually
  • seek advice from experts in their respective fields in assessing priorities and research quality and in making policy.

The government has two major advisory bodies in science policy

The Commonwealth Science Council connects the leaders of our academic and business communities, including Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, to the Prime Minister and relevant senior ministers. It advises on the ways that science, research and innovation can contribute to productivity, health and wellbeing, setting priorities for research, and building the evidence base for future areas of science policy development.

Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) is an independent statutory body, chaired by Mr Bill Ferris AC, with the Chief Scientist as deputy chair. It has responsibility for providing strategic whole‑of‑government advice on all science, research and innovation matters. ISA has audited the innovation and science system, and this year is developing a 2030 Strategic Plan with recommendations for government.

The government has introduced a number of strategic science‑related initiatives:

The National Innovation and Science Agenda is delivering initiatives to support innovation and science, across the full spectrum of science education and engagement, research and research infrastructure, translation and commercialisation.

Innovation and Science Australia’s Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System has provided a performance baseline ahead of the 2030 Strategic Plan for innovation, science and research, to be prepared in 2017 in consultation with the community.

The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap identifies national priority research infrastructure needs over the next 10 years.

The Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2016–2021 and the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2016–2018 will guide decision making for disbursements under the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which will commence in 2017.

In partnership with states and territories, the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016–2026 is taking action to lift foundational skills in STEM learning areas, develop mathematical, scientific and technological literacy, and promote the development of the 21st century skills of problem solving, critical analysis and creative thinking.