New Australian Antarctic Division Director takes up role

New Australian Antarctic Division Director takes up role

Video transcript

Dr Nick Gales

It's a very complex organisation, the Antarctic Division, and the whole program, and I've been lucky enough to have worked in quite a few different areas. I wintered way back in the 1980's, and then the recent experience on the Executive and running the science branch really does help me understand why we do what we do and how we do it.

The role of the Director is really challenging, it's very exciting. I think it's really important, and I think it's important to everyone in Australia that the Antarctic program delivers really well for them and for the government. Australians have always been really interested in Antarctica, so there's an important historic context.

The climate systems that affect everyday life in Australia, the drought patterns in the agricultural belts, through to just enjoying coastal living, they're born in the Southern Ocean if you like, those systems. So understanding how Antarctica works helps us understand what kind of weather we'll have regionally around Australia and indeed globally.

I've had a very lucky career, I've been involved in taking science directly into policy and management through most of my career, that's where I get my greatest enjoyment.

Australia's a really well respected nation internationally, we've earned that respect by being a major player in all of the major initiatives around especially in eastern Antarctica, the part of Antarctica to the south of Australia, and you know certainly in my new role I'll be wanting to ensure that Australia remains highly influential and a real leader in the science, policy and operations space.

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Director Dr Nick Gales
Director Dr Nick Gales (Photo: David Parer)

Dr Nick Gales has taken up his position as Director of the Australian Antarctic Division. The former Chief Scientist of both the Antarctic Division and the Department of the Environment, said he considers his appointment a privilege.

“The role of Director is varied, challenging, exciting and also very important,” Dr Gales said.

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead the Division in its work.”

Dr Gales has worked in a scientific role at the Division since 2001, and as a member of the Executive since 2012. Dr Gales said his first-hand experience and knowledge will prove invaluable. 

“The Antarctic Division is a complex organisation and I have been lucky enough to have had a long and varied association with it.

“From wintering in the 1980s to my most recent experience on the Executive as Chief Scientist – experiences such as these help me understand the role and responsibilities of the Division, and how we work to achieve them.”

Dr Gales takes on the role at an important time for Australia’s Antarctic program. As Director, he will support Government in its delivery of a 20 year strategic plan for Antarctica, and finalise the acquisition of a new icebreaking research vessel, scheduled for completion in 2019.

“These two significant projects will enable Australia to continue its leadership in Antarctic science, policy and operations over the coming decades,” he said.

Dr Gales will also lead Australia’s engagement with the international Antarctic community to maintain and further develop relationships with other nations to achieve operational, environmental and scientific goals.

“Australia is a well-respected nation internationally and we’ve earned that respect by being a key player in all major initiatives – particularly those involving East Antarctica.

“The Division has a strategic approach to delivering science that informs effective policy to make sure human activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are sustainable, as well as improving our understanding of the role that this important continent and surrounding ocean plays in Australian and global climate systems.”

“In my new role, I want to ensure Australia remains highly influential and a leader in the science, operational and policy space.”

Dr Gales is the 12th Director of the Australian Antarctic Division and replaces Dr Tony Fleming who retired on 6 August after serving in the role for four years.

Read an interview with Dr Gales when he became Chief Scientist in the Australian Antarctic Magazine 23: 1-3, 2012.