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Decadal Plan for Chemistry

The National Committee for Chemistry (NCC) of the Australian Academy of Science is currently carrying out the first Decadal Plan for Chemistry. The goal of the Decadal Plan is to understand the role of chemistry in Australian society - its strengths, its weaknesses and its challenges. The Plan will outline how the discipline will move forward over the next 10 years. The Decadal Plan will explore teaching and research, the role of Government, the nexus with industry, employment and outreach within Chemistry, as well as the role of Chemistry in advancing Australian society, for example through improved environmental awareness, by expanding our capability in advanced manufacturing and by increasing our understanding of the world around us.

Background

Chemistry is the largest scientific discipline, and is often termed the central science. At present, 29 of Australia’s Universities have dedicated Chemistry departments[1]. Contrary to popular belief there is close to gender balance with just 55.7% of all graduates in chemistry being male[2]. Mean salaries are $50,000 p.a. with a mean graduation age of 22. Around 50% of chemists work in industry, 25% in Universities or teaching and 24% in Government laboratories[2]. The peak body for Chemistry is the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), which currently has some 4,000 members [3]. Chemistry is strongly coupled to industry. For example, chemicals and plastics supply 109 of Australia’s 111 industries. There are 60,000 people employed in the chemical industry and it is our second largest manufacturing sector. The sector contributes $11.6 billion dollars annually to Australian GDP[4,5].