[HASN logo] No. 33, August-September 1994 ISSN 0811-4757
Edited and published by Tim Sherratt (Tim.Sherratt@asap.unimelb.edu.au) for ASAP.

[News logo] Centenary of Federation

The millenium approacheth, and with it the centenary of federation. Some of you may have noticed that a Centenary of Federation Advisory Committee was established early this year to advise the Council of Australian Governments on ways of commemorating our commonwealth conjunction. Ever vigilant in its quest to raise awareness of Australia's scientific heritage, ASAP made a submission to the Committee on the value of the history of Australian science and technology. We were therefore pleased to note that the Committee included a section on 'Celebrating our scientific heritage' in their final report. It's in Chapter 3, 'Achievements and achievers', part of a discussion of the general goal:

To ensure Australians - especially the young - have access to information about Australia's achievements in the first hundred years since federation, and about the people responsible for those achievements. Through this, to build a greater sense of national pride and purpose.
A few examples of scientific glory are recounted and your none-too-modest editor is captured in full rhetorical flight:

An understanding of Australia's scientific heritage might help prise open the grimly locked jaws of narrow-minded pragmatism. The portrait of the Australian who merely responds to circumstances could be replaced by one of the imaginative thinker, the long-term strategist, the creative spirit, the visionary. The history of Australian science can provide a reservoir of images and examples to build this new identity, and establish a creative environment for future growth and prosperity.
Feel free to slip this classic quotation into your next dinner party conversation.

Practical means of developing this understanding are less well delineated. However, there are a couple of initiatives in which the history of Australian science community might play a role. The 'Australia 100' proposal is planned as a 'research and publishing project to provide popular access to information about Australian achievement and achievers'; while 'Access 2001' would 'fund the development of databases on federation topics, primary reference material and educational and resource material for use by schools and parallel education outlets'. These are only recommendations at this stage, but it's something we should all be keeping an eye on. All too often science is left out of these sorts of programs.

[ Contents | Previous article | Next article | ASAPWeb HAST | ASAPWeb Home ]