National survey results: Australian beliefs and attitudes towards science

In both 2017 and 2018 over 1000 members of the Australian public were surveyed on their beliefs and attitudes towards science. These surveys aimed to gain insights into the Australian community’s overall interest and engagement with science; and understand how the community perceives the benefits of science.

Overall, the results of the surveys are positive.

Both the 2017 and 2018 surveys found that the vast majority of Australians feel science is beneficial, and that overall science has made life easier. Those who feel more informed about science are generally more likely to be broadly positive about it. Each survey included some different questions.

Key findings of the 2018 survey include that respondents were interested in science or science-related topics above others such as sports and politics, and the most commonly used sources for science information are online news websites, television news and newspapers.

The 2017 survey found the majority of Australians are using science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills regularly at work. Additionally, more than 90 per cent of people used technology at least a few times a week, more than 80 per cent needed maths skills, and more than 50 per cent used science skills in their jobs.

The surveys also explored the attitudes of Australians to specific issues, including access to experimental drugs, vaccination, the use of animals in scientific research, genetically modified foods and climate change. Some findings showed a clear divide in public opinion, including whether access to experimental drugs should be allowed prior to full clinical trials, and whether eating genetically modified foods is safe.

To access the full reports and data:

The surveys were commissioned by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science from the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the Australian National University.

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