Chief Scientist to place science at the heart of Government policy development

Health Industry Hub | March 19, 2021 |
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Medical News: Dr Cathy Foley delivered her first major address at the National Press Club since commencing her role as Australia’s ninth Chief Scientist in January 2021.

She will set out a path for Australian science in a world rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic and on the cusp of unprecedented digital disruption. As it faces these challenges, Australia is seeking to place science at the heart of Government policy development and is making a significant investment in manufacturing and development of new industries.

Dr Foley said “The Prime Minister has given me instructions to ‘drive collaboration between industry, and the science and research community’ to support the COVID-19 recovery. And Science Minister Karen Andrews has asked me to pursue opportunities to place science  at the heart of policy development.

“The question for me is how to strengthen the connections – connecting the work of  scientists, researchers and innovators, with industry and policymakers,” she added.

Science will underpin the nation’s drive to become a global leader in low-emissions technologies and to transform manufacturing with the help of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other digital technologies.

Dr Foley noted “We have passed the baton smoothly from researchers to pharmaceutical companies and to medical manufacturers. Governments have moved quickly and invested significantly, and have been able to capitalise on their decades of support for medical research.  

“We know where to focus our attention. The government is investing in modern manufacturing, low emissions technologies and has identified priority industries,” she said.

Dr Foley is the second woman appointed to the role after Professor Penny Sackett who was Chief Scientist from 2008 to 2011. 

“Diversity. This is something I am passionate about, but despite some great initiatives, progress is painfully slow. And it’s clear that this is an incredibly complex and difficult issue.  

“More women in science, engineering and technology is only part of the diversity equation. It shouldn’t need saying that we are more likely to succeed if we use our full human potential. If we call on as many different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds as we can, including the knowledge base of Indigenous Australians.  

“Simply put, diversity of ideas and experience equals better results,” she added.

With a long career at the sharp edge of science, Dr Foley’s experience sees her uniquely placed to bring stakeholders together to advance commercialisation and investment of Australian research.

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