Professor Ingrid Scheffer.

Around 1 in 5 Australian scientists recently surveyed by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) said they experienced death threats and/or threats of physical or sexual violence after speaking to the media about COVID-19. 

Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences President Professor Ingrid Scheffer said it was completely unacceptable that scientists and healthcare professionals were being harassed for sharing their knowledge.

“Scientists speak to the media and public because they want to educate and empower people with the information to make good choices for their health and safety,” she said.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many researchers and healthcare professionals are going above and beyond, working tirelessly to keep Australians safe and contribute to the pandemic response.

“Scientists are not above criticism or questioning – robust debate has always been part of the scientific and learning process – but they should be able to do their jobs without harassment and abuse.

“It’s particularly disappointing that women scientists, and scientists from diverse backgrounds, experience abhorrent abuse that targets their gender and background. This stifles important voices and valuable contributions to science.”

Several Fellows have spoken to AusSMC about their experiences. Read their statements here.