The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Australia’s economy hard.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 2.7 million people
(around one in five workers in Australia) either lost their job or
had their paid work hours fall between March and April 2020.
Australia’s scientists have been on the frontline of our nation’s
response to the public health crisis and the global race for a
Yet they have also faced job losses, cuts to paid work hours,
and a vast unpaid workload of caregiving and distance learning
supervision for children at home amid school closures.
This survey of 1,059 scientists, taken in May 2020, gives
further insights into the early picture of the impact of the
pandemic on Australia’s scientific workforce.
One in 20 scientists in the survey had taken a pay cut,
and one in 10 (10.3%) said their paid work hours had
Around 7 in 10 had been instructed to work from
home, and almost one in three said physical distancing
and home isolation had limited their work.
One in seven said their work role had changed during
the pandemic, and nearly one in four said anxiety/
mental distress caused by the pandemic was affecting
their ability to work.
One in five said caring for children/home schooling had
limited their ability to work.
Without extra support, further science job losses are
anticipated, as the economic impact of the pandemic on major
science employers such as universities and research institutes
One survey participant told us they fear the loss not only of their
job, but also of their home.
Many laboratories, fieldwork sites and research centres were
shut down in the early stages of the pandemic, with some
research trials and projects lost entirely.
Other research efforts were set back profoundly with major
disruptions and delays.
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