Good morning and thank you for this opportunity to speak to you all.
While the pandemic continues to provide hurdles and obstacles, I am heartened to see crucial events like this continue.
Australia needs young people like yourselves, who are passionate about science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies and careers.
So it’s pleasing that we get opportunities like this to come together – albeit at such an early hour!
The pandemic certainly isn’t going away – we all know that.
We’ve had to adapt and we will continue to adapt.
Our vaccination and support programs have been enormously helpful and successful in strengthening protection for health and households.
And I want to pay tribute to a former Science Minister, now Health Minister, Greg Hunt, for his leadership, drive and innovation to help get us through this period.
Scientists and engineers have also helped us to solve problems that have allowed us to transition to new ways of living, learning and working.
Some organisations, like the National Youth Science Forum, have turned the challenges caused by the pandemic into an opportunity, and are thriving.
This morning, we celebrate their success.
Commitment to science
After a trying two years, I think we understand more than ever the critical role science and related fields play in Australia’s economic and social wellbeing.
As we have all witnessed, STEM capabilities improve our ability to seize opportunities – and face challenges.
STEM capabilities increase business competitiveness by delivering better processing techniques.
They can improve people’s quality of life through technological innovations.
They can also deliver medical breakthroughs, like COVID vaccines.
The Morrison Government fully understands the importance of STEM in terms of increasing productivity, creating jobs and growing the economy.
All these priorities are tied to skills that drive a competitive and inventive workforce.
There is good news for young people passionate about studying and working in STEM fields.
Jobs in STEM areas are growing significantly faster than other jobs.
Over the five-year period up to May 2024, data projections show STEM occupations are expected to grow by 11.6 per cent.
Other jobs, by contrast, are projected to grow by 7.5 per cent.
To meet this demand, we are encouraging a diverse range of students and young people to consider a STEM career.
More than $11 million dollars has recently been committed to Questacon to improve its building, create new exhibits, and extend the popular Questacon Science Circus.
The commitment also includes $800,000 dollars for a short-term extension of the Engineering is Elementary Program, delivered with the Department of Defence, which supports teachers to introduce engineering and technology subjects in primary school.
In particular, the Morrison Government recognises the critical need to increase the participation of women in STEM education and careers.
This is why we have committed $154 million dollars to achieve greater gender diversity in STEM.
This includes investing $42.4 million dollars over seven years to boost the next generation of women in STEM by supporting up to 500 industry co-funded university scholarships.
It also includes $13 million dollars for the fourth round of the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grants program.
This round will expand existing projects that support women and girls, regardless of their background, to build STEM and entrepreneurship skills and succeed in high growth employment areas.
Round 4 closed earlier this month and applications are currently being assessed by my department.
And in February, on the International Day of Girls and Women in Science, I announced $6.7 million dollars to extend successful initiatives, including the Superstars of STEM, the Women in STEM Ambassador initiative and the Ambassador’s Future You digital awareness raising initiative.
The Morrion Government is immensely proud to support programs like the National Youth Science Forum that encourage participation and engagement of young people in STEM.
Programs like the annual N-Y-S-F Year 12 Program, for example, help build our future STEM workforce.
This year’s successful pivot by N-Y-S-F to a record-breaking hybrid program increased the event’s accessibility, diversity and impact.
I would like to congratulate N-Y-S-F on the success of this year’s program.
Maker Projects grant
In keeping with our support of STEM engagement, I am really please to announce today the opening of the biennial Maker Projects – Community STEM Engagement grants.
Up to $2 million dollars in grant funds are available.
This grant opportunity aims to foster creativity and inquiry-based learning, and support the development of STEM skills in design, engineering and programming in students and youth through hands-on learning.
Grants of up to $100,000 dollars are available for organisations to use towards their projects.
We are particularly keen to see applications that engage groups traditionally under-represented in STEM, including girls, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, people living in regional, rural and remote locations, people with disability and people from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.
Grant applications closes on May 9.
Thank you again to the National Youth Science Forum team for your outstanding work, and for hosting this event.
I look forward to meeting and speaking with many of you at the end of proceedings.
Enjoy the morning and I can’t wait to catch up.