Science Meets Parliament 2017

Report by Joanne Hall

Science meets Parliament (SmP) is an annual event hosted by Science and Technology Australia (STA) with the aim of getting as many federal politicians as possible to meet with scientists. The Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS) is a member of STA and hence is permitted to send two delegates to SmP. Dr Joanne Hall (RMIT) and Dr Hayden Tronolone (Adelaide) represented AustMS. Prof. Jacqui Rammage (Sydney), Assoc. Prof. Natalie Thamwattana (Wollongong) and Prof. Geoff Prince (La Trobe) represented the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI).

We spent the first day at Old Parliament House learning about science communication, journalism, and politics. The second day was at Parliament House meeting politicians, watching parliamentary debate and engaging in discussion panels.

Joanne Hall met with Skye Kakoshe-Moore (Senator for SA), along with Karen Taylor-Brown (Refraction Media), and Rebecca Vivian (The University of Adelaide). They discussed encouraging high school girls to consider STEM careers and the need for more high school maths and science teachers.


L-R: Joanne Hall, Skye Kakoshe-Moore, Rebecca Vivian, and Karen Taylor-Brown at SmP 2017.

Natalie Thamwattana met with Peter Khalil (Member for Wills in Victoria), along with Christoph Breidbach (Melbourne), Tamim Darwish (ANSTO), and Stephen Horn (Statistical Society of Australia). They discussed the lack of support for mid career researchers, the size of the ARC application process, and the importance of NBN infrastructure.


L-R: Stephen Horn, Natalie Thamwattana, Tamim Darwish,
Peter Khalil, and Christoph Breidbach at SmP 2017.

Jacqui Rammage was scheduled to meet with Bill Shorten (Leader of the Opposition) along with Kylie Walker (STA), Andrew Peele (Australian Synchrotron), and Andrew Care (Macquarie). Alas, Parliament House is a busy place, and Bill Shorten could not make this meeting. Jacqui spoke to Bill Shorten’s Chief of Staff and policy advisors about the shortage of maths teachers in high schools and gender equity. Jacqui also discussed gender equity with Sharon Claydon (Member for Newcastle).

There were several opportunities for informal discussions with MPs and Senators at the Gala Dinner and the Friends of Science Cocktail Party. Science meets Parliament is an important event — consider applying next year.

National Science Statement

On March 22, Arthur Sinodinos (Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science) launched Australia’s National Science Statement. It sets a vision for what Australia values in STEM. However, there are no quantified goals, plans, predictions or policies.

PISA report shows Australian students are slipping behind

The latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report has shown that Australia’s school performance in science and maths is slipping behind the rest of the world.

Simon Birmingham (Minister for Education and Training) responded by asking for cooperation from state and territory governments.

This was widely reported in the media.


Cheryl Praeger Retirement Mini-symposium – April 13, 2017

Cheryl began her career at The University of Western Australia in 1976, and has recently retired after 40 years of service. To celebrate her amazing and influential career, there will be a mini-symposium hosted by The University of Western Australia on April 13. There will be four plenary lectures devoted to Cheryl’s legacy given by some of her closest colleagues:

The programme and the venue will be advised. There is no registration fee, but you should let the organisers (below) know if you are attending.

A/Prof John Bamberg
A/Prof Michael Giudici

Colloquium by Prof Cheryl Praeger at Monash University

  • Date: Friday 28 April at 3:00pm AEST
  • Title: Breaking down barriers in Mathematics

On the occasion of opening the exhibition “Women in mathematics throughout Europe” at Monash University. The colloquium will be followed by refreshments.

AMSI Winter School 2017

The AMSI Winter School 2017 on Computational Foundations of Data Science is run in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology and is designed for PhD students and researchers in the mathematical sciences and related disciplines.

Female ECRs may be eligible for a Choose Maths travel grant.

WIMSIG Conference 2017

Celebration of Women in Australian Mathematical Sciences

If you are considering going to the WIMSIG Conference 2017, then register your interest. This is the first event of its kind in Australia, so we don’t know just how popular the event will be. The expression of interest form also gathers information about potential childcare and lactation space requirements. If there are any other services that may enable your attendance, then please ask Lesley Ward. We want this event to be as inclusive as possible.

Plenary Speakers
Our four plenary speakers span statistics, mathematics in industry, pure mathematics, and applied mathematics.  


There were lots of good news stories coming out of Queensland during the past month. Queenslanders will need a lot more good news in the coming months as they clean up the damage from Cyclone Debbie.

Have you read an interesting article? Have some news? Have an opportunity available?

Please send items to WIMSIG-news@women.austms.org.au.

Note: Newsletters are published on the 1st day of each month (or soon after). The deadline for submitted items is the 27th day of each month.