GSA calls for review into University of Melbourne research ethics and integrity codes.

Lockheed Martin is a defence manufacturer, which specialises in technologies, such as aeronautics, missiles and fire control, rotary and mission systems and space technologies (1). Lockheed Martin has partnerships with 50+ countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, USA, UAE and Israel (2). Their partnerships with these countries include the supply of military equipment.

The University of Melbourne participates in the Commonwealth Government’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group with defence industry partners, including Lockheed Martin Australia. In 2016, Lockheed Martin Australia invested $13 Million AUD into establishing the Science, Technology, Engineering Leadership and Research Laboratory (STELaRLab), as an organisation wholly owned by Lockheed Martin, independent of the University of Melbourne. According to the University of Melbourne, since 2016, the University of Melbourne has received $3.5m in funding from Lockheed Martin Australia for PhD scholarships and research projects in areas such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, resource allocation and optimisation, and quantum sensing. Student projects have been in areas such as powerline safety monitoring and simplified drone control for first responders (3).

As a defence manufacturer, Lockheed Martin has been implicated in the supply of military hardware to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in the complex Israel-Hamas conflict (4). The issue of universities across the world having connections and partnerships with defence manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin Australia has become an increasing point of public concern following the recent resurgence of military operations in the region which has resulted in countless deaths (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12).

Universities are now being called on to ensure their connections, funding, and partnerships are not supporting conflicts, and acts of war.

The University of Melbourne is a publicly funded institution. The research conducted by the STELaRLab is compliant with and approved under the current research ethics and integrity codes, reviewed by the Research Due Diligence Advisory Group. However, amidst the deaths occurring in the Israel-Hamas conflict, the University maintains its relationships with defence manufacturers.

GSA’s Principal Purpose in the Constitution outlines that this association has been established to advance education, including by supporting equity and the engagement of the diverse graduate student body in the life of the University and promoting the role of graduate students in addressing the challenges of the future and building a just and fair society. GSA acknowledges that our graduate student community has a diverse range of backgrounds, political views and experiences. We strive to be an inclusive and respectful organisation, where all are welcome. To achieve this, we must ensure that the university community we are a part of cannot be implicated in wars or acts of violence. Therefore, GSA calls to the University of Melbourne Research Due Diligence Advisory Group to review the research ethics and integrity framework with regards to research with weapons manufacturers.

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