ARMI Student Meets Parliament

23 Apr,2024

ARMI Student Meets Parliament

Dialogue between scientists and policy makers is fundamental in informing our country’s leaders on the latest challenges facing the sector, in supporting funding for research and in ensuring experts are heard when making decisions on important issues. “Science Meets Parliament” is an event where a program of tailored training is delivered “to forge deeper connections between federal Parliamentarians and those working in science and technology.

ARMI social media ambassador and PhD student Oliver Anderson from the Zenker Group made the trip to the Australian Parliament House in Canberra to attend the 2024 edition of the event, not only as a representative of ARMI but also of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research (ASSCR).

Parliament House (Image credit: Oliver Anderson)

Day one of proceedings saw welcome speeches from the Hon Ed Husic MP (Minister for Industry and Science), as well as the Hon Paul Fletcher MP (Shadow Minister for Science, Arts, Government Services and the Digital Economy). This was followed by the opening keynote delivered by Professor Emma Johnston (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research at the University of Sydney and marine ecology expert) and Professor Brian Schmidt (an astronomer at the Australian National University who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of dark energy). They discussed how to secure Australia’s future in the global research and development space by staying competitive and reaping the benefits for all of Australia. Attendees were then led to the famous National Press Club for, according to Oliver, “an amazing and harrowing speech” from the Science & Technology Australia (STA) President, Professor Sharath Sriram. In the speech, Professor Sriram outlined the urgent need for increased funding of scientific research, and the dangers of not doing so.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley (Image credit: Oliver Anderson)

As a true highlight of the event, STEM attendees were matched with a Parliamentarian to meet in person. Oliver was able to flex his knowledge in a discussion with Sam Lim MP about the importance of stem cell research and imaging technologies. The day closed with a fantastic dinner featuring speeches from the Hon Ed Husic MP, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP and Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley. The second day began with a number of stimulating panel discussions, with one focusing on “getting science into the news cycle” featuring science journalists from major national outlets, such as the ABC and The Guardian Australia. STEM attendees were then invited to visit Question Time in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and experienced a heated discussion between the Government and Opposition. The event then closed with an address from the US ambassador Caroline Kennedy.

Oliver commented, “Science Meets Parliament 2024” was a truly amazing experience. I’ve learnt so much over these two action-packed days and had such a great time. Huge thanks to ARMI and ASSCR for supporting my attendance.”

Science Meets Parliament 2024 (Image credit: Oliver Anderson)

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