Through a combination of government budget cuts and internal restructuring, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will slash funding to education and outreach functions – resulting in dozens of job losses, cuts to regional and remote student outreach and the end of popular school holiday programs.
Education funding and staff will be slashed
CSIRO management are expected to cut between 30 and 50 per cent of current funding into education and outreach.
The impact on jobs will be heavy, with 26 permanent staff to be made redundant and the sacking of the entire education casual workforce of 42 employees. A skeleton staff of less than fifty will remain.
The new operating model is expected to maintain regional teams in most capital cities in addition to headquarters in Canberra. However management concede that a future presence in Darwin and Townsville remains uncertain.
Regional Education centres will be hardest hit
While some regional jobs may remain, management believe that many regional programs will cease to operate in their current form. Currently, CSIRO manages a network of nine education centres across all States and Territories.
Regional centres operate as a base for outreach staff –casually employed presenters who deliver science education to regional and remote schools. These program will cease with management’s decision to sack the entire causal workforce.
The centres also host tours for students and teachers including science experiments and demonstrations, host community events and promote National Science Week activities – all under threat due to CSIRO’s education cutbacks
Popular programs will not be spared
CSIRO’s school holiday programs – a popular fixture for many generations of Australian students – have already ceased.
The Double Helix Club – which takes the science message to the community through publications, event and activities for kids – will close its doors after more than 25 years.
Management’s decision to wind back student programs comes amid calls from prominent figures such as Chief Scientist Ian Chubb and media magnate Rupert Murdoch for a greater focus on science education.