The Australian 'National Research Priorities' (NRP) [download] were launched in 2002, and were almost entirely STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) based.
- An Environmentally Sustainable Australia
- Promoting and Maintaining Good Health
- Frontier Technologies for Building and Transforming Australian Industries
- Safeguarding Australia
A subsequent consultation in 2003 canvassed the HASS (humanities, arts and social sciences) sector, and resulted in one HASS goal being listed (of seven) under each NRP.
HASS researchers reported that it was often difficult or unconvincing to squeeze their research into any of these four additional goals for such purposes as research grant funding applications to the main public higher-research funding body, the Australian Research Council.
Since 2002 much work has gone into refining Australia's research and innovation infrastructure and priorities. Milestone reports from late 2011 Maximising the Innovation Dividend: Review Key Findings and Future Directions, and 2011 Strategic Roadmap for Australian Research Infrastructure, have led in part to a consultation to refresh the NRPs.
Not only this, but a fifth NRP is now proposed which is HASS based.
This has been a hard won battle in a climate of concerted reduction in policy and funding support for movable cultural heritage at the federal level (see other News Items on this website: 'Out in the cold - again' (Jan 2012), 'Have your say in Australia's future' (Sept 2011), 'Efficiency Dividend put to the vote' (June 2011), and 'Australia's collections at risk?' (Feb 2011)).
Significance International encourages cultural heritage colleagues to read the succinct NRP Consultation Paper and submit comments by 5 March 2012 in support of this proposal. For those living outside Australia, remember 'it's always tomorrow in Australia'.
Click here to read our submission to the inquiry which highlights the vital role of culture in achieving our collective future goals. Tracking highlights proposed changes, and brief explanations are given for these.