The Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) is a national scientific not-for-profit organisation with a mission to ‘bring science to people and people to science’. It opened in October 2009.
The concept of a Royal Institution of Australia was proposed by Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield CBE, as Thinker in Residence for the South Australian Government during 2004 and 2005. Greenfield was Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain from 1998 to 2010. The South Australian Premier Mike Rann was receptive of the idea and secured State, Federal and private sector funding for the building and the programs. The Royal Institution of Australia’s inaugural Chairman is Peter Yates AM.
As a national hub for science communication, The Royal Institution of Australia promotes public awareness and understanding of science. The Institution highlights the importance of science in everyday life through Cosmos (print and online), the SCINEMA International Film Festival and the Australia’s Science Channel Education platform.
The Royal Institution of Australia foundation partners were the Government of South Australia, the Commonwealth Government and oil and gas company, Santos. It has a paid membership program, including both corporate and individual members.
The Royal Institution of Australia is the first and only sister organisation outside of the UK of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (RiGB).
The establishment of The Royal Institution of Australia was amongst the recommendations Professor Greenfield made during her Adelaide residency, which included initiatives to encourage collaboration and complementary research programs across South Australian universities, science communication programs for children, professional development for school teachers and the establishment of the Australian Science Media Centre. A key recommendation was the Bragg Initiative, which encouraged a relationship between South Australia and the RiGB and was taken up by the South Australian government.
In June 2008, work commenced to convert the former Adelaide Stock Exchange building, which had remained empty for many years, into The Science Exchange.
The Royal Institution of Australia was opened on 8 October 2009 by the President of the Council of RiGB, HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.
The Bragg Initiative, which led to the initial development of The Royal Institution of Australia, was named for William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg. This father and son team won the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics for their ‘services in the analysis of crystal structures by means of X rays’. The Braggs hold a unique place in Australian and international history, as the only father-and-son team to be awarded a Nobel Prize. William (Henry) Bragg was the first Professor of Physics at the University of Adelaide and his son (William) Lawrence was born and educated in South Australia. Both returned to the UK and were subsequently Directors of The Royal Institution of Great Britain. Both father and son had an enormous passion for communicating science to the broader community. The Bragg Initiative was a program within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, South Australian Government and was managed by Linda Cooper, Project Director.
Each year The Royal Institution of Australia celebrates this Bragg connection that links Australia and The Royal Institution of Great Britain (RiGB) and invites outstanding Australian scientists and science communicators to become Honorary Bragg Members. This prestigious award recognises their distinguished contribution to science and their support as ambassadors for The Royal Institution of Australia.
The Royal Institution of Australia has developed a variety of world-class products and platforms that allow scientists, researchers and media to connect with the community. These programs spotlight local, national and international scientific talent and develop public awareness of scientific topics.
The Royal Institution of Australia uses innovative and engaging platforms to engage including cultural fusions with the arts, hands-on activities, workshops, forums, debates, and presentations.
RiAus receives financial and in-kind support from members, corporate partners and donors.
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