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It’s great to be back here, this time for the launch of the partnership between Griffith University and Sea World.
The last time I was here, I had my previous ministerial cap on—that of vocational education and skills.
During that visit, I announced a program to help apprentices develop their skills in industries undergoing structural change.
Today’s event is also important in a time of structural change—the shift occurring in the Australian economy.
A key part of this shift is how skills are trending towards science, technology, engineering and maths.
It is estimated that by 2030 Australian workers will spend 77 per cent more time using STEM skills.
The partnership we’re launching today highlights the importance of STEM skills for Australia’s economy.
It underlines the need for our researchers and industry to work together to create more STEM opportunities and encourage young people to take up STEM.
Much of our world-class research is also kept from public view.
Taking research from the lab to the public domain is essential for inspiring our future STEM workforce.
And I can’t think of a better place to bring science to our young people than Sea World, a place where leisure goes hand in hand with work and education.
What you’ve done here at the Sea Jellies Illuminated Exhibition is to bring a laboratory to the people.
That’s why the Griffith Uni–Sea World partnership is so important.
I’m excited about the educational and outreach STEM activities this partnership will create for schools.
The expanded research opportunities it will provide.
And, more importantly, how it will engage the public, in particular young Australians, in research activities.
This initiative is a great example of industry working with our scientists to add more value to Australian research.
Greater collaboration between Australian researchers and industry is a high priority for the Coalition Government.
Such collaboration allows us to go beyond discovery to create commercial opportunities and open new markets.
The benefits to business can be significant, as research by my department’s Office of the Chief Economist shows.
That research tells us businesses that innovate and collaborate, including with universities, are more than twice as likely to lift productivity as those that don’t.
We know that the marine sector is one area that can benefit substantially from greater collaboration.
It is estimated that by 2025, the industries derived from Australia’s vast oceans will contribute some $100 billion each year to the Australian economy.
But as the National Marine Plan tells us, collaboration between scientists and industry is crucial to making the most of the opportunities our oceans present.
Around $747.9 million in funding has been committed to Cooperative Research Centres since the Liberal National Government came into office in 2013 – showing our commitment to strengthening Australian industry.
I know Griffith Uni and Sea World have also been leading the way for many years when it comes to universities collaborating with industry.
Indeed, Griffith Uni participates in several CRCs.
I’m pleased you’ve now formalised your partnership with Sea World.
You have an opportunity to showcase the amazing work of Australian scientists to the wider public.
To show how our scientists can take the things they’ve studied in the theoretical realm and apply them in real life so everyone can benefit from them.
This is absolutely important.
As a government, we don’t just want to encourage young people to take an interest in STEM.
We want to see them engage with STEM in a way that is exciting, makes them more curious about the world around them, and inspires them.
The partnership we’re launching today provides an innovative means to helping achieve that outcome.
I’m particularly keen to see as many girls as boys take up STEM as their preferred study and career area.
The evidence tells us participation in STEM subjects is divided along gender lines, with boys much more likely to choose STEM subjects.
That is why increasing the participation of girls and women in STEM studies and careers has been a high priority for the Coalition Government.
We’ve committed $4.5 million over four years to support a long-term strategic approach to tackling this issue.
This funding has enabled us to do a couple of things.
First, we’ve appointed Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith as Australia’s first Women in STEM Ambassador.
This award winning astrophysicist is now advocating for girls and women in STEM.
She’s helping increase their understanding of the STEM opportunities available to them.
We thank her for taking on this important role.
Second, we’ve funded the development and delivery of the Girls in STEM Toolkit.
This innovative educational toolkit will also help school-age girls understand what a STEM career can involve and help them match their interests to a STEM Career.
Ultimately, these initiatives come down to one thing: the absolute necessity to draw on the entire talent pool available to us—boys, girls, men, women.
It is the best way to harness all our potential human capital in STEM to support a prosperous economy.
It’s great to know that we have a number of women-in-STEM role models here in our midst, including;
- Prof Kylie Pitt, Head of Marine Science, Griffith Uni
- Ms Marnie Horton, Acting Head of Marine Sciences, Sea World, and
- Mrs Meta Goodman, Director, The Moreton Bay Foundation; among many others.
Thank you all for being an inspiration to our girls.
I congratulate everyone involved in bringing this partnership between Griffith University and Sea World to fruition.
I look forward to seeing many of the thousands of young people who visit Sea World every year inspired by the Sea Jellies Illuminated Exhibition to take up STEM.