The AUKUS agreement about Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines is “the single biggest investment in our defence capability in our history and represents a transformational moment for our nation, our Defence Force and our economy,” according to a joint release in March from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for Defence Richard Marles.
AIP President Prof Nicole Bell responded to the announcement to highlight Australia’s need to build nuclear physics skills to support the program.
“Australia has a critical skills shortage in nuclear physics. We have an urgent need to develop our capabilities to support the development of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program,” says Prof Bell.
“Our universities have very few personnel with the expertise to deliver the training programs that will be required. Funding for new positions in nuclear physics is urgently needed,” says Prof Bell.
“These skills are also needed for many other applications including medicine, such as radiotherapy treatment, and in the space industry, such as developing satellites that can withstand radiation in space.”
In December, the AIP called for urgent action to train a nuclear savvy generation.
A government statement has said that as part of the Agreement, the Albanese Government and South Australia have pledged to work together to realise, “An increase in Commonwealth Supported Places to South Australia Universities over the next four years, focused on STEM disciplines in professional engineering (mechanical, electrical, chemical), computer science, mathematics, chemistry, physics, psychology and management.
“The Commonwealth will allocate an additional 800 places to South Australia Universities over the next four years, with the first 200 places commencing in 2024.” Read the full statement.