Statement of Intent
Dear Minister Husic,
On behalf of the CSIRO Board, I am pleased to provide CSIRO’s Statement of Intent.
We recognise the importance of CSIRO as a unique and special asset for Australia, here to solve the nation’s challenges and priorities you have outlined. We will work with you to ensure CSIRO’s Corporate Plan supports these priorities and direct our research to where it is needed most.
The Board warmly welcomes your aim of science being at the forefront of decision making and contributing to the benefit of society. CSIRO will continue to engage closely with departments to share critical information and provide access to its scientists and their research, particularly as it relates to the priorities of the Government and the formation of policy, for the health, wellbeing and prosperity of all Australians.
Contributing to the benefit of society is a sentiment embodied by CSIRO. Our research aims to improve the lives of Australians, to expand our industrial base with the potential to create wealth and jobs for the nation, to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in students, and to develop and support early career researchers as they embark on a lifelong dedication to discovery.
As a statutory agency, legislated by the Science and Industrial Research Act 1949 (Cth) (SIR Act), CSIRO will continue to deliver benefit to the nation and meet its functions stipulated in the Act, including to:
- Carry out scientific research to assist Australian industry
- Further the interests of the Australian community
- Contribute to the achievement of Australian national objectives and
- Support Australia’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.
You have clearly outlined your expectations of CSIRO, to which I am pleased to respond in more detail.
Applying science to advance our national interests
CSIRO will support Australia’s national interest through the delivery of innovative science and technology directed to our national challenges and to advance our national interests. We will continue to seek out ways to create new industries, to create value through our own innovation and the innovation we support of others, and help build the resilience of Australia’s supply chains by building sovereign capability.
Through large‐scale, impact focused initiatives, such as the Missions program, we will work collaboratively on the opportunities and challenges facing Australia. We will apply our globally recognised expertise in the areas you have outlined by:
- enhancing Australia’s ability to become a global leader in renewable energy;
- maximising opportunities from our wealth of critical minerals, essential to renewable energy;
- supporting Australia’s agriculture sector to test and discover new ways of production;
- helping government and industry address cybersecurity, to avoid societal and economic costs;
- leveraging the power of quantum computing, with its boundless applications like the fast and
accurate prediction of global and local weather patterns, or the design of new catalysts, materials,
or drugs; and
- supporting the home‐grown industry for space technology and the advances it can bring.
Taking Australian Science to the World
We will continue to contribute to the international priorities of the Government by working with leading international science institutions, attracting investment to Australian science and connecting Australian innovation to global markets. CSIRO’s research across the Pacific stands the agency in good stead to prioritise engagements across the region.
CSIRO will also continue to share its science and innovation with the world, building on long term collaborations in areas including climate and clean energy.
Advancing the Government’s policy priorities
Aligned with the Government’s priorities, CSIRO delivers large‐scale scientific and collaborative research initiatives, particularly through our National Challenges and Missions program. Working with all levels of government, universities, industry and other publicly funded research organisations and the community, we aim to solve Australia’s challenges and advance our national interests in:
Climate, energy, environment and resources
- Building the competitiveness, sustainability and security of our energy and valuable minerals resources while heading to Net Zero. Missions include
Hydrogen Industry, Towards Net Zero, Ending Plastic Waste, Renewable Energy Powerhouse (using critical minerals for renewable energy) and Smart Energy.
- Enhancing the resilience, sustainable use and value of our environments, including by mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate and global change. Missions include Drought Resilience, AquaWatch Australia and Climate Resilient Enterprises.
Health and wellbeing
- Enhancing the health of Australians through preventative, personalised, biomedical, and digital health services. Missions include Minimising Antimicrobial Resistance.
Food security and quality
- Working with the agri‐sectors to achieve sustainable security through new AgriFood products, technology and innovation for Australia. Missions include
Future Protein and Trusted Agrifood Exports.
- Helping safeguard Australia from threats across all areas including terrorism, regional instability, pandemics, biosecurity, disasters and cyber‐attacks. Missions include Catalysing Australia’s Biosecurity, Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience and Infectious Disease Resilience.
- Helping create Australia’s future industries and jobs by collaborating to boost innovation performance and promote STEM skills. Many of the missions programs are creating industries such as hydrogen, future protein and renewable energy.
When the National Science Statement and National Science Priorities are finalised, these will be reflected. CSIRO is already engaging in this work and participates in the National Science and Technology Council, discussions with the Chief Scientist of Australia and government activities where science can inform policy.
Advancing First Nations Science
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are Australia’s first scientists. We are committed to meaningful collaboration ‐ sharing ancestral ecological and cultural knowledge, elevating their voices and contribution. A recent example of this is as you note, is the collaboration with Wajarri Yamaji to enable Australia to host a Square Kilometre Array telescope.
Through more than 100 actions in our third Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, we aim to build stronger relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through scientific knowledge sharing, education, employment opportunities and mutually beneficial partnerships that can deliver a positive impact to all Australians.
We are building on more than 60 projects delivered with First Nations people to create ground‐breaking solutions. This partnership approach is already having impact. On the remote beaches of western Cape York, rangers are using AI, cloud computing and Indigenous knowledge to protect endangered sea turtle hatchlings from feral pigs. Under the direction of Indigenous rangers in Kakadu National Park, drone technology and AI are being used to monitor and preserve natural habitats. In Northern Australia, more than 1,000 feral buffalo and unmanaged cattle are being tracked and herded by satellites, while Indigenous partners drive efforts on the ground. And around the country, as part of our effort to prepare for bushfire seasons that are getting longer, dryer and hotter, we are working with Indigenous peoples to understand how Traditional Burning practices can contribute to better early‐season fire management. This is just the beginning as we explore how partnerships with Indigenous Australians can provide opportunities for the development of solutions for all Australians.
Achieving Net Zero Emissions and becoming a Renewable Energy Superpower
CSIRO will continue to direct critical research and technology development to meet the challenges of climate change, working and innovating across the ecosystem (government, industry, community, academia, research). We will keep you advised on the progress and significant developments in the Climate Change research space and any proposed material changes to program arrangements will be shared.
As you have outlined, Australia’s energy transition will benefit from research and technology. CSIRO’s energy research aims to improve the affordability, reliability and grid integration of renewable energy technologies; provide the transport sector with sustainable fuels and energy storage solutions; improve energy use with new technologies; and provide government and industry with tools, data and modelling capability to inform policy assessment and investment decision making. Our engagement with industry is aimed at decarbonisation.
In this regard, our Towards Net Zero Mission has brought together research, industry, government and the community to help Australia’s hardest to abate sectors – including steel, sustainable aviation fuel, and agriculture – halve their emissions by 2035. Another mission – hydrogen industry ‐ aims to build Australia’s clean energy hydrogen industry, lowering clean hydrogen to under $2 per kilo by 2030.
We are also investing in future science energy programs including Revolutionary Energy Storage Systems to explore how new grid management systems will incorporate more renewable energy; Permanent Carbon Locking to explore how to integrate carbon storage and carbon streams in new ways; Hydrogen Energy Systems to create new science, capabilities, and technologies across the hydrogen value chain.
Critical minerals are central to the world’s transition to renewables. As the largest minerals research and development organisation in Australia and one of the largest in the world, CSIRO is ideally placed to seize the opportunity for Australia and respond to critical mineral demand as well as working with global counterparts looking to accelerate their transition to clean energy.
CSIRO itself is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2030 and is leading Australian enterprises, already delivering a 70% emissions reduction. We are helping companies and communities across the country to reduce their emissions by applying what we have learnt.
Delivering a Future Made in Australia through the National Reconstruction Fund
For over 100 years, CSIRO has grown and supported Australian innovation. We have been able to create industries for Australia which have improved the lives of the community, and delivered prosperity for the nation. For example, Australian cotton has the highest yields in the world, and 100 per cent of it is currently grown from CSIRO varieties. CSIRO has been developing cotton varieties since the 1960s, that have underpinned the success of Australia's cotton industry; increasing productivity by more than $5 billion, reducing insecticide use by 85 per cent and cutting herbicide use by 52 per cent. Australian cotton is also the most water efficient in the world, producing an average of 430kg of lint for every ML of irrigation water.
The National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) details priority areas the Government sees as important to diversify and transform Australia’s industry and economy. These areas include where CSIRO will contribute expertise and innovation: renewables and low emissions technologies, medical science, transport, value‐add in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, value‐add in resources, defence capability and enabling capabilities.
Our research including roadmaps, future science platforms and missions will support the identification and development of new opportunities. Through our programs CSIRO can enable future growth for Australia ‐ from invention to innovation and commercialisation. In doing so CSIRO, will support the Government’s priority areas in building sovereign capability and bolster our nation’s supply chains to improve our resilience.
For example, the ON Accelerator Program gives researchers and entrepreneurs the opportunity to build new skills to take their venture to the public. The CSIRO Innovation Fund, Main Sequence, funds deep tech innovation. We also provide access to our world‐leading research facilities for the development of prototypes for example, and testing services.
Research translation and commercialisation
To achieve impact, the translation and commercialisation of research is critical. It has delivered strong returns for Australia, with significant increases in licensing fees, royalties and equity holding gains. CSIRO acts as a bridge between research and industry to translate research to products and services. CSIRO is also leading the way in unrestricted access to our reports, ensuring publications are available to everyone.
We will continue to share our expertise in managing IP for the benefit of Australia, aligned with the Government’s priorities, particularly those detailed in the National Reconstruction Fund. CSIRO will continue to make available a pipeline of opportunities for investment, partnership, licensing or joint venture.
CSIRO aims to ensure IP is protected but also available to be used to work collaboratively in managing coinvestment opportunities and equity‐based arrangements. We will continue to focus on the translation of science to a solution for the benefit of the nation, with the appropriate return and protection of its value.
CSIRO’s engagement with industry is assessed through the lens of the SIR Act, ensuring alignment with national interest and delivered by CSIRO researchers who maintain their independence. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for three times CSIRO’s engagement compared with large industry, supporting innovation through funding, expertise and resources.
Australia expects CSIRO to conduct its activities ethically and with integrity and CSIRO does not take the trust placed in it lightly. This expectation demands we comply with all applicable laws, regulations and Australian Government policies; maintain high standards of scientific, professional and business practice; be an impartial, authoritative and respected source of independent information and advice on science for the community and government, a trusted advisor; and conduct our affairs in a way which enhances the reputation of CSIRO and Australia.
Supporting the health of Australians
Health and wellbeing is one of CSIRO’s six National Challenges, aligned with Government priorities. Research includes that which prevents illnesses, develops a better understanding of diseases, and improves detection, treatment and recovery in a range of medical conditions.
National facilities managed by CSIRO, including in health, assist in helping the nation understand and meet the health challenges across a broad range of areas. They include the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, Nutrition and Health Research Centre, National Vaccine Therapeutics Lab and the Australian eHealth Research Centre. CSIRO is also working closely with government on the consultation for the creation of an Australian Centre for Disease Control.
Focusing on emerging health issues for the nation, other developing missions include: Minimising Antimicrobial Resistance – to halt the rising death rate and economic burden of antimicrobial resistance; and Infectious Disease Resilience – to enhance the Indo‐Pacific region’s ability to detect and respond to infectious diseases threats.
A number of future science programs are also underway: Immune Resilience to develop the next generation of health interventions for animal and human diseases; Precision Health to proactively manage a person’s health throughout their life; and Probing Biosystems to enable real time analysis of the processes occurring within the human body.
Managing research infrastructure and national facilities
CSIRO is proud to design, build and operate National Labs as part of Australia’s world‐class research infrastructure, facilities and collections. Science is undertaken by researchers in these facilities from across Australia and the world and underpin much pure basic research. The facilities also play a central role in safeguarding Australia’s health and industries. In addition to National Labs such as the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness and the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre, CSIRO also makes critical laboratories and facilities available for research including the National Bushfire Behaviour Research Laboratory, a share in the NovaSAR‐1 Earth Observation satellite, ‘Moon in a room’ and the National Vaccine Therapeutics Lab.
We will ensure these facilities are well utilised and the results from the science initiated there is shared. These facilities also contribute to enabling Australia to meet its international science and research obligations and deliver impact through science diplomacy.
CSIRO’s broader property footprint is managed through the 2019‐2029 Property Strategy which details investment and divestment principles to ensure our property portfolio provides fit‐for‐purpose efficient, sustainable and affordable infrastructure. As requested, CSIRO will work with the Department and your office with regards to property considerations including Lindfield, in a timely manner.
CSIRO plays an important role in developing STEM skills in our school‐aged community and university students as well as celebrating and promoting STEM and STEM literacy in the wider community.
We appreciate your passion for STEM and your recognition of its importance to Australia. CSIRO will continue to create education programs, to equip the emerging workforce with tomorrow's skill sets, and to strengthen collaboration between industry and classrooms across Australia.
We will deliver high quality STEM education programs for teachers, students and the community to bring science to life in our classrooms. We will continue to align our resources to the curriculum and use best practice STEM teaching methods, catering for primary to secondary schooling, and on to tertiary education and early career opportunities.
We will continue to provide career paths within CSIRO and increase the skills of researchers, particularly in relation to digital. CSIRO has recently undertaken a recruitment campaign called “Impossible Without You” to showcase careers at CSIRO and attract early career researchers.
Through the Industry PhD program, we bring together an industry partner, a university and CSIRO to undertake a co‐designed research project, to develop the ability to translate research into commercial outcomes and get real‐world experience and access to specialised expertise, equipment and training.
Diversity in science is essential, and CSIRO is committed to gender equity, inclusion and diversity. We contribute to two significant national programs to advance gender equity: Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) and the Champions of Change Coalition. CSIRO is a Bronze accredited SAGE member. We welcome your commitment to this area and look forward to engaging in the Government’s Diversity in STEM review. We will incorporate any additional actions to support increased diversity.
Communication of CSIRO’s science and research
CSIRO will continue to communicate science in a clear and engaging way through social media, traditional media and reaching audiences through our network of physical education centres such as the Parkes Observatory Visitors’ Centre. We welcome engagement with your department and office to promote and raise awareness of CSIRO’s work and the national facilities we operate.
We will ensure research delivered at CSIRO’s national research facilities such as the RV Investigator, the Square Kilometre Array and the ‘Dish’ are shared widely – it is often the big science stories at that happen using big infrastructure that are of great community interest.
CSIRO Publishing will continue as Australia's leading science publisher of books, journals and magazines, communicating the outcomes of research and demonstrating the value of science from around the world. It also has an Open Access approach.
Citizen science attracts interest and participation in science. The Atlas of Living Australia’s programs such as the Bushfire Recovery Project Finder ‐ where the public are asked to observe, monitor and record the postfire environment in a way that’s never been done before ‐ have been highly successful.
Driving the organisation’s performance
CSIRO will perform the functions and exercise the powers set out in the SIR Act. We will meet our performance commitments and the financial, reporting and planning requirements, as governed by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (PGPA Act). With respect to transactions that attract reporting obligations in accordance with the PGPA Act, we will ensure you are notified as soon as is practicable.
We will ensure resources are used most effectively and that unnecessary overlaps are removed to ensure CSIRO operates well. We will continue to operate with a long‐term sustainable perspective, to ensure the Agency is well managed with clear responsibilities and direction. The annual report will convey our achievements and performance, and the Corporate Plan the scientific direction of the organisation, reflecting the Statement of Expectations and obligations of the SIR Act. We look forward to engaging with you on this important document.
Agency staff and health
CSIRO’s greatest asset is its people, who come to work every day to achieve impact in service of the nation. The effective management, safe operation and use of laboratories, and other work areas are key elements in preventing people being injured, property damage, and harm to the environment. The work we do is incredibly diverse, and because of this we also have a diverse risk profile. So, it is paramount we address our most common safety hazard areas and ensure we deliver against safety standards.
Donesafe is a key tool in our HSE management system, through which we encourage anyone to report hazards, near misses and incidents easily. Our HSE Plan drives improved systems, capability and proactive care for our people. Enabling projects already underway support delivery of the Plan and strengthen safety in CSIRO.
Although we have achieved the highest diversity levels on record, we will refresh this strategy. A safe, positive, supportive work environment, with access to high quality facilities and opportunities for learning and development is area the Board and Executive team place high priority upon.
With respect to key workforce planning matters, CSIRO will continue to engage with staff and in accordance with the CSIRO Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
Working with your Department and office
CSIRO is a trusted advisor and will continue to be available to government to provide evidence‐based research to support the priorities of the nation. We will proactively communicate all areas relevant to policy formation as you have outlined, and make our researchers accessible for independent, trusted scientific information.
We will work closely with your office and department, sharing key matters of importance and interest, many of which you have detailed in your Statement, on a regular basis and in a timely manner. For those matters of a sensitive or complex nature, we will engage early and provide appropriate briefings, including for decisions that may impact CSIRO staff. Board members will meet their legislated requirements, and the Chair and Chief Executive will meet with you every six months, or as required on potential structure changes or significant matters.
We will provide prompt advice to your office and the department, about potential relationships with large or private organisations which may be considered sensitive or controversial. Significant scrutiny, assessment processes and ethical evaluation is undertaken with every potential proposal to undertake research with an industry partner.
The Board, Chief Executive and the Executive Leadership team and the rest of CSIRO look forward to working with you and your department, to achieve the priorities outlined. Your support for science, technology and innovation and the nurturing of Australia’s STEM talent is greatly appreciated.
Katherine Fagg, AO