Director’s Update – May 2022

The 2021 Roadmap recommends step change to create world-leading environmental and climate infrastructure.

Welcome to our Newsletter this May – the first since elections in Australia and with everyone still wondering what a new Government means for prioritisation of investment in environmental and climate programs, and from TERN’s perspective, continuing long term ecosystem monitoring.

Early in April, before the elections in Australia, the 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap was released by the former Australian Government.  We are still analysing the document but of immediate note for those interested in the environment is its suggested investment in step change to create world-leading environmental and climate infrastructure to underpin Australia’s national climate adaptation strategy and Australia’s national science priorities. It is great to see that continuing continental-scale environmental observations is covered in the Roadmap.

The step-change investments and other responses to the Roadmap’s recommendations will be fully developed later in the year as the team responsible for National Research Infrastructure in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) develops its 2022 National Research Infrastructure Investment Plan (also known as the “RIIP”).  

Of note to TERN and other NCRIS grant-funded projects was the announcement with the launch of the Roadmap of $900 million funding over five years to support the staff, facilities and services which form Australia’s suite of National Research Infrastructure (NRI) projects. This allocation, which comes from the $4 billion committed by Government in earlier years to NRI from 2017-18 to 2028-29, will create better job security and certainty for current NRI providers. TERN welcomes this announcement and thanks those in the TERN community who have participated in the Roadmap process. We will continue to keep you updated on our contributions to the 2022 Research Infrastructure Investment Plan as we respond to the Roadmap suggestions.

The Roadmap’s release was high on the TERN’s Advisory Board’s agenda at its first meeting for 2022 on 8 April and allowed consideration of the need to refresh the conceptual framework which guides TERN’s decision-making about funding allocations. The framework was initially established by the TERN Advisory Board with advice from its Science Advisory Committee after the 2016
Roadmap and comprises several strategic modules whereby each module leads to a series of principles essential to providing transparency for the way in which TERN sets out to support the research infrastructure needs of researchers and decision makers now and in coming decades. With the aid of its conceptual framework, priorities for addressing gaps in TERN’s infrastructure and partnerships are determined.

The Advisory Board agreed that it is time for the TERN conceptual framework to be expanded so that TERN includes commercial opportunities and support for industry in its principles, along with recognition that TERN supports and collaborates with a wider range of Australian environmental
observing activities than occur within NCRIS projects. More emphasis will also be given to the role TERN plays in ensuring there is a safe repository for long-term data.  These modifications will
be reflected in TERN’s 2023-2028 five-year plan, which will be uploaded to the TERN website in the coming weeks.

Before I leave you to start enjoying the stories in this month’s newsletter, I thank outgoing TERN Advisory Board members, Professor Joe Shapter (UQ) and Dr Dan Metcalfe (CSIRO) for the wonderful service they have provided to the ecosystem community over the past years via their contributions to the TERN Advisory Board.  I also welcome several new faces to the TERN engagement, science communication and education and training team. Dr Eleanor Velasquez is the new Education and Training Manager, Mr Wayne Decker joins us as Science Writer, and Ms Jazmin Malcolm and Mr Jayden Hausfeld are the new team providing our digital and social media services, respectively.  You will be hearing more from and about them in the future.  In the meantime, we wish you happy reading of this May newsletter. 

Dr. Beryl Morris

TERN Director

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