Australia’s National Science and Research Priorities

Posted in Submissions on 29 September 2023

DASSH welcomes the opportunity to give feedback on the draft Science and Research Priorities.

We commend the Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM and her team for their work engaging with diverse stakeholders. The identified priorities cover a wide range of critical challenges and DASSH Members welcome the focus brought to bear on the research requirements to tackle these problems.


The Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities represents more than 250 Deans, and Associate and Deputy Deans, from 43 universities across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, leading schools and faculties that teach tens of thousands of students and several thousand scholars. DASSH supports those who have responsibility for governance and management of research, teaching and learning across those member institutions.

Data Sovereignty

Engaging with Indigenous Knowledges and Peoples through this process has been and continues to be essential. Our members and First Nations colleagues have highlighted Data Sovereignty as one of the key issues facing the research sector.

Indigenous data sovereignty is crucial for effective data collection and governance in Australia. Current government data collection often fails to provide useful information for Aboriginal people, highlighting differences rather than aiding decision-making. Indigenous data governance, where Aboriginal people are not just in an advisory role, is key to operationalising data sovereignty and in turn to realising the potential for sector change that is sought in the Interim Report.

DASSH includes a Network of Associate and Deputy Deans which has a Special Interest Group Indigenous. It is comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues who gather regularly and often provide feedback to governments and other bodies. That network would welcome the opportunity to meet with Dr Foley and her team to provide direct feedback on issues around Data Sovereignty and other issues.

Enabling Capabilities

Colleagues at the Academies of Social Sciences and Humanities have provided extensive feedback on the importance of incorporating humanities, arts and social sciences into national and research priorities.

DASSH welcomes the clear emphasis placed on research that not only presents solutions but enables them to be implemented.

Research translation will not take place without the enabling capabilities provided by social scientists, anthropologists, historians and linguists to name a few.

Technological and scientific innovation is crucial to tackling climate change, making Australians healthy, creating a thriving economy and building a more resilient nation.

If we are to achieve the priorities proposed we must invest in research around:

  • Geopolitics
  • Ethics
  • Adaptation and social change
  • Economics
  • Indigenous Knowledges
  • Languages
  • Geography
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Social sciences
  • Communication
  • Community engagement
  • Creative arts
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Sustainability
  • Innovative design
  • Disruption
  • Innovation and technology
  • Anthropology

and many other areas of expertise provided by our disciplines.


The consultation paper outlines a strong focus on the need to defend Australia’s democratic system, particularly from the risks posed by mis- and disinformation. DASSH strongly endorses investment in research capacity and capabilities around cognitive and social causes of engagement with misinformation and disinformation. Understanding our society, the motivations of its citizens and the path to change and recovery are critical to a thriving democracy.

Climate Change

The rapidly changing climate poses an existential risk to all Australians, and it is essential we transition to a net-zero economy. Our members lead schools and faculties that teach more than 100,000 students and tens of thousands of researchers who are crucial to driving that change. We must take a wholistic approach to research on climate change. To achieve the priorities outlined in the consultation paper it will be essential to combine technological advancements with human, social and cultural dimensions.