Swinburne University of Technology’s Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2), in collaboration with University of Tasmania, has released research that suggests a lack of public inclusion in Australia’s hydrogen strategies is hampering progress. 

A team of researchers reviewed Australia’s renewable hydrogen strategies at the federal and state levels, and reported that Australia’s current hydrogen plans are being led mainly by government and big businesses, and that public input was basic and limited. 

Lead researcher, Dr Kim Beasy, said that Australia’s strategies for the emerging hydrogen economy pay lip service to public participation, but maintain a top-down, centralised approach led by government and industry interests. 

“Strategy documents are the blueprints that shape entire industries and their future trajectories. Analysing these documents provides a window into whose voices and interests are being centred versus marginalised,” Dr Beasy said. 

The review highlights that the public is viewed as customers and users rather than active participants, particularly First Nations Australians who have been completely left out of hydrogen plans at both the national and state levels.  

“A glaring oversight is the exclusion of First Nations peoples from the design and development of national and state hydrogen strategies, perpetuating a colonialist mentality.”  

Dr Beasy and her team at Swinburne’s VH2 are calling for this lack of inclusion to be urgently addressed. Updated hydrogen strategy documents should particularly focus on working with communities in meaningful and authentic ways for public good. This includes community engagement, built-in participation, popular sovereignty, community-level agency, and civic ownership. 

“Unless Australia’s hydrogen strategies undergo a paradigm shift, they will reinforce existing power structures and inequalities.” 

Image credit: RichardPetronio/

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