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A positive future for the enabling sciences.

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MEDIA RELEASE DR DAVID KEMP, MP Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs K231 20th September, 2001


The Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp, is confident that concerns expressed today about the future of the enabling sciences - Science, Mathematics and Technology - are unfounded.

“The Commonwealth Government has recognised the importance of these sciences and placed them at the heart of its plan to assure Australia’s future in innovation, Backing Australia’s Ability,” said Dr Kemp.

Promoting Public Awareness of Science, Mathematics and Technology

“I agree with the four associations about the importance of raising public awareness of Science, Mathematics and Technology and the opportunities which these disciplines provide. That is why the Government has committed $35 million over five years for a national innovation awareness strategy to promote the commercial potential of science and technology.”

Science and Mathematics in Schools

“To gain a better understanding about the extent to which our school systems are equipped to provide a high quality science education, this Government commissioned the report on the Status and Quality of Teaching and Learning of Science in Australian Schools,” Dr Kemp said.

“In response to the report’s findings, the Government is providing some $2.5 million for a National School Science Project over the next three years to support a package of initiatives that will raise the awareness of science education and improve the resources available to teachers in providing high quality science programmes to all students.”

These initiatives will be made up of activities to:

• promote awareness of science education;

• develop and trial curriculum resources and professional development models; and

• develop a resource bank of assessment tools for teachers.

“I have also moved to increase the number of teachers trained to work in our schools with these subjects through the additional university places announced within the Backing Australia’s Ability package. An additional 280 first-year places each year are teaching places.”

“There are longer-term issues about the supply of mathematics and science teachers for our schools. The Government is committed to review the attractiveness of teaching as a career for our talented young people. But the suggestion that there will be no university academics or secondary students in the enabling sciences in 20 years time is quite simply a projection without reality.”


“On the contrary, there is every reason to believe that we will see growth in these crucial areas,” Dr Kemp said.

Research and Science, Mathematics and Technology

“This morning the Howard Government announced that 1284 new research projects would commence next year at universities and other research institutions.”

“The package includes record funding levels, a record number of international partnerships, a record number of Fellowships (with substantial salary increases) and a record number of industry partners.”

“These projects will feature cutting edge research in areas as diverse as information technology, biotechnology, stock market analysis, agriculture, environment, health, e-commerce, literacy and other education issues, engineering, architecture and housing, assisting people with disabilities and new technologies in the arts.”

“The Howard government is providing $105 million in 2002 through grants administered by the Australian Research Council, including an extra $11.2 million through Backing Australia’s Ability.

ARC grants in this round to research in Physics, Chemistry and Maths totalled over $15 million or nearly 20% of the grants,” Dr Kemp said.

“Encouraging a wider interest in science, mathematics and technology is a key strategy in Backing Australia’s Ability, launched earlier in January this year. Support for research and innovation are vital to Australia’s future prosperity.”

Backing Australia’s Ability is a comprehensive and integrated package of measures, costing $3 billion over five years, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to Australia’s research and scientific efforts.

Major initiatives in Backing Australia’s Ability that support the enabling sciences include:

• Providing an additional $736 million for Australian Research Council competitive grants, doubling funding by 2005-06;

• Boosting research infrastructure funding by $583 million;

• Providing $155 million to support investments in major national research facilities;

• Committing an additional $176 million for world class centres of excellence in the key enabling technologies of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and biotechnology;

• Encouraging the Cooperative Research Centres Program with an additional $277 million and encouraging greater access by small and medium sized enterprises;

• Increasing funding to universities by $151 million to create 21,000 additional fully funded undergraduate university places over five years with priority given to ICT, mathematics and science; and

• Delivering $144 million to foster scientific, mathematical and technological skills, and innovation in government schools in those States where the Enrolment Benchmark Adjustment (EBA) is triggered.

The measures announced in Backing Australia’s Ability were developed following extensive consultation and the support of the research and scientific community.

Media contact: Catherine Job 02 6277 7460 or 0408 648 400