Analysis and Commentary

Re-engineering Aust Foundation to close – by Dr Michael Myers

Analysis and Commentary

After decades of invaluable work encouraging more than 1.5 million young Australians to take up STEM careers, the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation has been unable to secure ongoing funds from government or industry and will close. This is the full text of the high achieving charity’s shock announcement, by Dr Michael Myers.

With a heavy heart, I write to inform you that our board has decided to wind down and suspend our operations.

Despite our many achievements and international recognition, the government’s lack of clarity on future funding and inability to gain sufficient industry backing led our board to make this difficult decision.

Over the past 12 months, we have been chasing ongoing funding, but we have had little success within the current economic environment.

Even though we have received substantial funding from the DOD for the past 16 years, representations to the Ministers of Defence, Defence Industry, Education, Science, Industry and Resources, Communications, Skills and Training were all unsuccessful.

Disappointingly, the industry has also not been forthcoming in providing sufficient support, and we found ourselves in no man’s land, a place that we, as a charity and public company, cannot traverse.

There comes a point when moving forward requires a go/no-go decision. Unfortunately, the immediate victims are the 15,000+ students currently in our programmes and the 8,000+ students preparing for competitions nationwide, which are unlikely to proceed.

Looking back 26 years to when the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation came into existence, it was a desire to pass to the next generation experience and wisdom that would help and guide their career journey.

My Grandfather, my number one mentor, instilled in me a belief that “No one said you couldn’t.” Those exact words uttered by a young student at Pennant Hills High School in 1998 lit the fire for Toni (my amazing wife) and me to begin our journey to give back, inspire, and mentor those interested in following in my Engineering and STEM footsteps.

Lifting our children’s capacity and equipping them with the skills needed to play a part in Re-Engineering Australia’s success became the target.

Today, Australia faces a growing deficit of 200,000 engineers, and we are unprepared for projects like the $368 billion AUKUS program. Unfortunately, Governments blinded by pursuing ideology over outcomes have misunderstood what it takes to build the long-term STEM pathways needed to make the nation capable of delivering solutions to AUKUS and other significant projects.

The bureaucracy, in turn, has limited opportunity for small organisations positioned to make a difference in responding to these needs.

If our nation is to be a leader, we need to do what leaders do, not what everyone else does.

If we develop in people the capacity to be innovative, unique Australian innovations will come by default.

The students we interact with continually show us they have the vision and capability to be the best in the world at whatever they choose.

We sincerely regret this decision. We are proud to have engaged and inspired over 1.5 million students across Australia and many more worldwide, creating many world champions.

Our small team of dedicated staff drove this success with the assistance of thousands of volunteers, industry mentors, educators, and, most importantly, the teachers and students who, in the spirit of innovation, bit off more than they could chew and gave it a go.

To all our friends, I extend my deepest thanks. Your contributions have transformed lives and shaped the fabric of our nation.

The spirit of REA will live on in the many students who have gone through our programs, achieved remarkable careers, and made significant impacts on the world stage.

To those students we have touched, I pass you the baton: “No one said you couldn’t,” and with that, the responsibility to pass the baton to the generation who will follow you.

We will maintain transparency with our stakeholders as we wind down our operations.

Now that the decision has been made, there is much to resolve. Our priority is to seek industry support for the young Australians representing Australia at the upcoming F1 in Schools World Final in November.

The desire to celebrate our eighth F1 in Schools World Championship remains strong.

In the coming days, we will provide more information to teachers and schools about ongoing support.

My hope for Australia is that in the future, we will need leaders with the fortitude to make long-term decisions that guide our nation back to success.

We must choose leadership based on their capacity to deliver a long-term vision, champion innovation, and invest in the capacity and capability of our young people.

Toni and I will take time to go “walkabout” and re-energise. We have burnt all our boomerangs, keeping the fire of enthusiasm alight, and we need to travel a road of balance and harmony.

With deep appreciation for those who have helped over such an extended period, mixed and profound regret.

Dr Michael Myers is Founder Re-Engineering Australia Foundation Ltd

Picture: Re-Engineering Australia Foundation

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