Inspiring Tasmania

Tassie marine mapping project to go Australia-wide, public to join hunt for rare and endangered plants Aboriginal elders on podcasts and more.

Tasmanian winners amongst 63 Unlocking Australia’s Potential science communication grants announced today by the Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans.

A Tasmanian project to map the distribution of marine life around the state is expanding to take in Australia’s entire coastline.

The Redmap ( project is an online portal where users report the fish and sea creatures they encounter – particularly those suspected of living outside of their typical waters.

Its expansion has been aided by a $300,000 Unlocking Australia’s Potential grant.

Our project will “unlock the potential of millions of eyes-on-the-water from Australia’s 3.5 to 4 million fishers and divers”, says University of Tasmania senior research fellow Dr Gretta Pecl.

“Participants can be directly involved … by simply submitting an observation or photograph of a marine species that they think (or know by looking at our website) to be unusual for a given area.”

All reports are verified by a scientist, and the data is used to map a species’ distribution and to track any changes.

“This also allows people – who are often out doing something they love – to be at the generating end not just the receiving end of science,” Dr Pecl said.

Media contact: Dr Gretta Pecl – – 0408 626 792

Plant Hunter – public invited on hunt for rare seeds

Australians will be given an opportunity to participate live online – via live web broadcasts and, in some cases, in person – with horticulturists and botanists searching for rare and endangered plants in the Tasmanian Wilderness and with horticulturists growing plants in the Gardens itself. The “Plant Hunter … Treasure Hunter!” project will open an engaging public window on the science behind collecting, conserving and growing plants in the state.

“It’s unique for people to have engagement directly with a professional in the field, and to be able to engage and ask them questions, when they’re in the depths of the Tasmanian wilderness,” says Marcus Ragus, from the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. “We also want to show there’s more to horticulture than just turning a compost heap – there’s vitally important work there, in science.”

The project will use unique technologies to engage the community including QR trigger codes with mobile tablets for interactive interpretation trails in the garden. A virtual online garden will also allow people to interact directly with various online garden landscapes.

The project, which will also see new interactive displays introduced to the gardens, received a $44,960 Unlocking Australia’s Potential grant.

Media contact: Mr Marcus Ragus – – 03 6236 3086

Other grant recipients include:

  • Aboriginal elders will appear in podcasts, and video, in a project focussed on Tasmania’s historic Risdon Cove. Elders will discuss botanical and geographic features of the area with assistance from a professional science educator. This project received a $5000 grant.
  • Around 3,500 Tasmanian secondary school students, and interested public, will weigh anchor for an “on-the-water” experience with local marine scientists. The boat tours will be held state-wide and are hoped to inspire some budding marine scientists. The University of Tasmania project, which also features material online and at community events, received a $45,000 grant.

Close to $400,000 ($394,960) in funding was awarded directly to Tasmanian-based projects in the Unlocking Australia’s Potential grants program. Sixty-three projects have been funded across the country. Many of other projects will also involve Tasmanian communities.

About the grants

A total of $5 million has been awarded across three levels of grant categories, small, medium and large, for projects to be delivered in 2012 and/or 2013 and/or 2014.

The prime objective of the program is to increase the engagement of Australians in science and it has prioritised projects that engage people who may not have had previous access to or interest in science-communication activities. Inspiring Australia is an initiative of the Australian Government.

For a complete list of grant recipients go online to

For more information: