The Australian Research Council (ARC) is administering the Australian Government’s Special Research Initiative in Excellence in Antarctic Science (SRIEAS), which is worth $56 million over seven years. The Australian Antarctic Division is providing support to the process through consideration of an application’s strategic fit to the Australian Antarctic science strategic plan and feasibility of requests for logistics support.

Strategic fit

The Australian Antarctic Division will hold a special meeting of the Expert Assessment Panel Strategic Assessment subgroup to review relevant parts of the application and provide input to the Australian Research Council’s deliberations. Panel members will use Criterion 1 from the Australian Antarctic Science Program (including Grant Program) 2018–19 round guidelines to make their assessment. The panel will include an Australian Research Council representative as observer.

As part of this support, Australian Antarctic Division end-user contacts identified as part of the Australian Antarctic Science Program (including Grant Program) 2018–19 round will be available for discussions with Special Research Initiative applicants about the strategic fit of proposals.

Logistics context statement

The Government’s major injection of funding to revitalise the Australian Antarctic Program will require a period of significant rebuilding over the next five years as new capabilities are implemented.

The new capabilities will enhance our capacity to support world-leading Antarctic and Southern Ocean scientific research into the future. However their scope and complexity will reduce capacity to support other activities during this rebuilding phase.

During the next five years there will be severe constraints on the support available for new field based projects.

Our focus over the coming period will be:

  • Casey research station will be fully committed to the inland traverse/million-year ice core project and infrastructure upgrading work for the 2019–24 period.
  • Davis research station will be fully committed potentially for a decade or more due to infrastructure upgrading and year-round aviation work (depending on the timing and scope of the latter, and subject to approvals).
  • Macquarie Island with the research station rebuild to take place over the 2019–24 period.
  • Marine science on the Aurora Australis in 2019–20 and the RSV Nuyina during the vessel commissioning period (2020-21 to some extent in 2021-22).

There will be enhanced opportunities to undertake terrestrial science at Mawson research station over the next 5-10 years.

Once the RSV Nuyina's commissioning is complete, it will be capable of serving as a platform for an unprecedented level of marine science research and as a floating station for expanded levels of activity in rarely visited areas of the Australian Antarctic Territory, Heard Island, and other campaigns and expeditions for the coming decades. World-class scientific research will continue to be a pillar of the Australian Antarctic Program with research over the next 5–10 years capitalising on existing data and samples, remotely-sensed data, and expanding research collaborations with other national programs, while the new Australian Antarctic scientific capabilities become operational.

Acceptance into the Australian Antarctic Science Program

Successful applications with requests for Australian Antarctic Division logistics or other support will be considered for inclusion into the Australian Antarctic Science Program and notified by Science Planning and Coordination. The Australian Antarctic Division Director will give final approval as the decision maker, per the Australian Antarctic Science Program (including Grant Program) 2018–19 round guidelines.

Successful applicants will be required to enter relevant information into the Antarctic application online system required for Australian Antarctic Division management of the projects; this includes logistics requests, permits, medicals, team members and reporting. All participants in the program are subject to conditions of participation in the Australian Antarctic Science Program, as outlined in the Australian Antarctic Science Program (including Grant Program) 2018–19 round guidelines.