The Australian Academy of the Humanities sees the 18 May federal election as an opportunity for all political parties to make a new and increased commitment to ensuring a humanised future for Australia. Today it has released its 8-point plan to address years of neglect and cuts to funding to the humanities sector.
‘A human-centred approach to policy-making requires all government agendas to be informed by ethical, historical, creative and cultural perspectives, but Australia is failing to effectively mobilise the sector which provides this expertise’, said Academy President Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA.
‘Governments have invested in STEM for Australia’s future, but have neglected the sector which employs almost 50% of researchers and educates 61% of Australia’s university students – the humanities, together with arts and social sciences. This is a sector under serious stress from declining government investment’.
‘This approach has resulted in a two-speed research system where one half of the sector is advancing at a much more rapid rate than the other’, said Professor Damousi.
The humanities not only build the cultural literacy of the nation, they provide foundational skills of a competent and agile workforce – problem solving, adaptability and creativity, critical thinking, ethical judgement and the ability to appreciate multiple points of view.
‘We are at the half-way point of the campaign and there has been little to no discussion of the importance of the arts, culture, music, history, language and literature to our national life. This is a sector which provides huge social and economic benefits. In 2016-17, the contribution from cultural and creative activity grew to $111.7 billion or 6.4% of GDP’.
‘Australia is now at the crossroads. We have an opportunity to invest in the expertise that will give a human face to our digital future, find solutions to our most pressing social challenges, and provide vital skills for growth industries. However, this requires a new focus, genuine commitment, and real action from whomever forms government to urgently address what is now becoming a desperate need for this sector’, said Professor Damousi.
The Academy calls on the next government of Australia to:
- Ensure ethical, historical and cultural expertise informs all government agendas
- Abandon the siloed approach to policy-making which separates STEM and HASS
- Review the design and effectiveness of publicly-funded schemes for HASS research
- Return the $4.2M stripped from ARC research funding to the humanities
- Expedite infrastructure investment to drive technological innovation for the HASS sector
- Incorporate creative, cultural and digital sectors in industry development programs
- Invest in intercultural capability through comprehensive language education
- Develop clearer national policy settings to guide investment in a culturally confident Australia
Further details on the 8-Point Plan are listed below and can be found on our website.
Executive Director, Dr Christina Parolin