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Science Meets Parliament Scholarships

Scholarships available for Indigenous, LGBTQ+ and regional STEM professionals

  • Indigenous STEM Scholarships for people with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage
  • STEM Pride scholarships for people who identify as LGBTQI+
  • Regional STEM scholarships for STEM practitioners who work in remote or regional Australia (>150km from a major capital city)

Scholarships will cover full registration including the gala dinner in the Great Hall at Parliament House, as well as travel, accommodation, meals and transfers. Financial assistance for childcare is available upon application.

Science meets Parliament brings around 200 Australian scientists and technologists to Canberra for professional development, networking, and to meet face-to-face with MPs and Senators. It is a highlight of the annual parliamentary calendar and has enhanced mutual understanding between parliamentarians and scientists as well as fostering enduring partnerships and collaborations.

Please note that to be eligible for these scholarships you must be a member of or employed by an STA member organisation. AIG members are eligible to apply through AIG’s membership of the Australian Geoscience Council.

The Indigenous STEM Scholarships are proudly supported by the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems(EQUS).

Applications will close on 15 June 2019, with recipients to be contacted by 30 June 2019 and an announcement made shortly after.

For organisations interested in supporting one or more scholarships through sponsorship please get in touch with us at info@sta.org.au.

The scholarship application form is available here.

AIG 2019 Annual General Meeting

The 2019 Australian Institute of Geoscientists Annual General Meeting will be held at the Transcontinental Hotel (Mezzanine Level), George St, Brisbane on 14 May 2019 in conjunction with the Queensland Branch monthly technical talk.  

The formal notice of the AGM has been sent to all members by email, along with instructions for voting in a secure, on-line election of Councillors.  Members will also be asked whether they endorse a proposal to update AIG’s Code of Ethics and Complaints process by on-line poll..

If you have not received the notice of meeting please ensure that your registered email contact details are up to date, please check and update them using the AIG membership portal, also accessible via the Member Login button at the top of the AIG website home page.  A copy of the AGM notice will be sent again tomorrow (26 April) and are also available in the Membership Portal.  Please contact AIG’s Executive Officer, Lynn Vigar, if you require assistance.

AIG’s newsletter and member email lists are seperate – if you receive this newsletter it does not mean that your email contact details for official members correspondence (AGM notices and membership renewal notices) are up to date.

The Council election results and resolution to update AIG’s Code of Ethics will be announced at the AGM.

Latest Australian geoscientist employment survey open

The latest instalment in AIG’s Australian geoscientist employment survey series is open for contributions. Click here to complete the survey.

This survey will provide data on trends in geoscientist employment in Australia during the first quarter (January, February, March) of 2019.  In the final quarter of 2018 quarter, the Australian geoscientists unemployment rate continued a gradual, downward trend, but increased from 8.3% at the end of September, to 9.1% at the end of December.  Underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists increased markedly. There is still a general perception that exploration and mining investment is strengthening in Australia, but this may not be flowing through to strongly improved employment prospects for geoscientists.

The survey takes only two or three minutes to complete.  You do not need to be an AIG member to contribute.  No data that could personally identify respondents is collected.  Contributions to the survey are required from both employed and unemployed geoscientists to ensure the relevance of results.  Your completing the survey really helps to make a difference to the standing and knowledge of our profession.

The survey will be open for contributions until 28th April 2019.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.  

Sincere thanks in advance for your continued support.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Nominations for the seven prizes are open—they range from the Prize for Science to a prize for New Innovators, and prizes for science teaching excellence. Entries close Tuesday 12 March. More information available on the website.

The initial entry process has been simplified.

Again, applications close: 12 March 2019 5:00 pm AEDT

Overall improvement trend in geoscientist unemployment continues, but self-employed geoscientists still doing it tough

Australian Geoscientist employment survey results for Q4 2018 released.

  • Call also made for greater political action to ensure more equitable and timely access to land for exploration
  • More women also forging geoscience careers

The latest quarterly Australian geoscientist unemployment survey for the final quarter of 2018, conducted during January 2019, revealed a slight increasein geoscientist unemployment, from 8.3% at the end of September, to 9.1% at the end of December 2018. Underemployment amongst self-employed geoscientists, however, rose significantly from 12.9% to 18.5% for the same period.

However, despite the dip for the past quarter, the new results pointed to evidence of an overall improving job trend since June 2016.

“This latest quarterly result is disappointing”, Australian Institute of Geoscientists spokesperson, Mr Andrew Waltho said today, “coming at a time when there was genuine optimism regarding an improvement in exploration activity, several, significant new mineral discoveries, and speculation regarding potential skills shortages facing the exploration and mining sectors”.  

Geoscientist employment in Australia June 2009 – December 2018

“Both the Federal Government and Opposition have announced initiatives to support mineral exploration research if elected in the May Federal election, but no-one is talking about improving processes facilitating equitable and timely access to land for exploration,” Mr Waltho said. 

“In fairness, this is a state issue, but we are still seeing bureaucratic and lengthy processes in operation that disadvantage the junior exploration sector in particular, with little sign of change,” Mr Waltho said.

The unemployment and underemployment situation varied widely between states.  Unemployment was lowest in South Australia (5.3%), NSW and ACT (5.6%) and Victoria (5.9%), followed by Western Australia (8.3%).  The results for Victoria and South Australia represent marked improvements on the previous, September quarter survey.  Unemployment in Western Australia was 8.3%, up from 6.5%. Unemployment in Queensland jumped from 11.5% in the September quarter to 15.1% in this survey.

Employment state by state. Too few survey responses were received from South Australia and the Northern Territory for inclusion.

All states except South Australia saw little change or an increase in unemployment in the 12 months between December 2017 and December 2018, but an overall improving trend since June 2016 remains evident.

The underemployment rate in South Australia took some gloss off the positive unemployment figure, coming in at 36.8% for the quarter, followed by Queensland (24.2%), NSW/ACT (16.9%), Western Australia (14.9%) and Victoria (11.8%).  

The survey attracted 391 individual responses.  Too few responses were received from Tasmania and the Northern Territory for the reporting of state results.

Junior exploration and mining companies employ 29% of Australia’s geoscientists according to this survey, almost as many as major and mid-tier companies combined.  

Cultural shift needed

“This amply demonstrates the importance of measures to help small employers avoid burning precious capital waiting for approvals before conducting productive exploration activities” Mr Waltho said.  

“Small companies have a limited capital base on which is difficult to raise further funds and must be used productively if they are to survive,” Mr Waltho said.

“Early career geoscientists tend to be employed in greater numbers by major mining and exploration companies but this soon changes as geoscientists gain professional experience, suggesting that major companies need to look more closely at retaining talent by providing a more dynamic and professionally rewarding professional environment for their staff,” Mr Waltho said.

Sources of employment for Australian geoscientists
Geoscientist employment in mineral exploration, by company tier

Women are represented almost equally in the geoscience staff of major, mid-tier and junior exploration companies.  The overall proportion of women in the workforce remains low, but large, mid-sized and junior companies don’t appear to either discriminate or be preferred sources of employment.

“Gender diversity in exploration and mining, long-considered to be a male dominated profession in Australia is changing rapidly” Mr Waltho said. “Almost half of the early career geoscientists (0-5 years’ experience) who responded to this latest survey were women,” Mr Waltho said.  “The sector is clearly creating career opportunities for women that are being taken up and we need to ensure that this trend continues through measures to promote and preserve gender diversity,” he said.

 “A drop in the proportion of women in the 5 – 10 year experience range is evident, but the proportion of women in the profession increases again in the 10 – 15 year range, suggesting, perhaps, that we are seeing the benefit of measures such as flexible employment and favourable parental leave provisions that enable geoscientists to mix raising a family with pursuit of a career. “This again, is something we need to build,” Mr Waltho said.  

Gender diversity amongst survey respondents. Women comprised 45% of early career geoscientists responding to the survey – signs of a very welcome trend towards more women taking up geoscience as their career

“The fact that we are seeing evidence pointing to this is a real positive for both the exploration and mining industry and our profession,” Mr Waltho said.