Aussies back science as a critical part of society

| August 13, 2021

The key findings from a major new study to launch National Science Week reflect the pivotal role science has played to help Australia to tackle COVID-19.  Australians strongly trust science and scientists, think science strengthens the country, and want more investment in science to speed our post-pandemic recovery.

The 3M State of Science Index measures public attitudes to science in 17 countries. In 2021, it asked Australians for their views on science and its role in our lives. The new data will be released at the launch today of National Science Week.

The launch – to be delivered by Science & Technology Australia for the Australian Government – features a panel of leading experts speaking to ‘The Science of Recovery, Resilience and Renewal’.

The survey reveals Australians have very strong levels of trust in science – higher than in many other nations – as nine in ten of us say we trust science and scientists.

Australians also strongly support more investment in science – 19 in 20 of us think it will make the country stronger. And amid daily reminders of the vast value of science to inform public understanding of the COVID and climate challenges, nine in ten Australians say science should help drive policy-making.

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Officer Misha Schubert – who will chair today’s launch and expert panel – said the new data confirms the very strong levels of trust from Australians in science and scientists.

“Science has been our saviour in the pandemic. Scientists around the world have worked round the clock on safe and effective new vaccines, careful public health strategies to save lives, and real-time data to support our frontline healthcare heroes,” she said.

“It’s heartening to see how strongly Australians recognise, respect, and are reassured by the powerful contribution science and our scientists have made. Australians also clearly want science to lead our social and economic recovery.”

Chris LeBlanc, Managing Director of 3M Australia and New Zealand and one of the expert panellists on the National Science Week event, said science is viewed as essential to shaping, strengthening and improving Australia.

“Since 3M started the State of Science Index four years ago, trust in science globally remains at the highest level we have recorded. The Index has captured a moment in history when the impact of science on our lives has never been more visible,” he said.

“While the pandemic has been a truly unpredictable hurdle for people in Australia and around the world, we have had some remarkable achievements due to the power of science. People once considered to be hidden away in labs have become the heroes of our society.”

In other key findings, 17 in 20 Australians think there are negative consequences for society if we don’t value science; 19 in 20 Australians see scientists as critical to our future wellbeing; and two in three parents think that during the pandemic, scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career in the future.