Expertise & evidence are our best defence against future terrors

After a hellish summer of bushfires, floods, drought and coronavirus, the big challenges facing humanity are “at an alarming juncture” – and evidence and expertise will be crucial to solve them.

In a speech to the National Press Club today, Universities Australia Chair Professor Deborah Terry AO will today warn that tapping into expert advice will be crucial to avert future disasters.

She will note experts have been sounding the alarm for decades over threats such as climate change, and recent events have brought home the need for action.

“Something is changing. That’s not just the lived experience of everyday Australians over this longest of summers. It’s also the evidence-based warning of our most informed experts.”

“The expertise in our university communities is essential to find clever solutions to our biggest and most complex challenges,” she will say.

Professor Terry will urge Australians to act on the advice of fire chiefs, scientific researchers and public health officials because “their expertise is our best defence against future terrors”.

“They have helped us understand more about what is happening across our country – and its implications for the future.”

And she will highlight how university researchers have turned their expertise into practical tools to help Australians in their daily lives.

“University fire experts teaching us about the changing scale and behaviour of fires. Social scientists sharing expertise to support our communities in grief and recovery. Conservation scientists sharing knowledge in the race to save endangered species.”

“Our water scientists helping us to protect our drinking water sources and dams from the risks that follow bushfire – when heavy rains risk flushing ash and pollutants into our drinking water.”

“So, to the Government and to the Parliament, we say: we’re here to help.”

“The expertise of our university research community is a resource for the nation. And we want you to tap into that resource,” she added.

Last year, new research found Australian university researchers and experts are the most trusted group in society to ensure facts and evidence are part of important public debates.

University researchers were the single most trusted group on this question – rating higher than doctors, business leaders, politicians, journalists, and churches.

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