NECTAR has its roots in the inaugural Early Career Academic Program 2008 facilitated by the Centre for Career Development. Five program graduates – Jochen Brocks, Nicolas Cherbuin, Daniela Rubatto and Jochen Trumpf, later joined by Sabrina Caldwell – conceived and developed the NECTAR initiative in response to the question "Could it be that the only thing preventing us from forging amazing academic careers is ourselves?" Their proposal was approved by the ANU Executive in late 2010 and implemented in 2011.
Since then, NECTAR has come a long way! Today, NECTAR has more than 2,500 members and has established itself as an important part of the ANU landscape.
- Since NECTAR's inception, more than 150 ECAs have actively shaped and supported the delivery of its events and initiatives through NECTAR's voluntary leadership roles.
- NECTAR has established a direct collegial dialogue between ECAs and the University Executive through the annual NECTAR Retreat, re-named NECTAR Forum in 2018, and other events.
- As a result of a recommendation by NECTAR to the University Executive in 2012, ECAs are represented in leading University committees, e.g. the University Research Committee, directly influencing the University's strategic decisions.
- In 2013, NECTAR successfully worked with University Executive to reinstate the ANU ECR Travel Grants. NECTAR advocated for continuation of the scheme from 2014 onwards and suggested revisions in 2015 and 2017.
- In 2016, NECTAR contributed to ANU strategic working groups in support of developing the ANU vision and strategic priorities for the ANU Strategic Plan 2017–2021.
- In 2017, the selection criteria for the ANU Futures Scheme were revised following a written request to the University Executive by NECTAR, allowing internal applicants.
- Since its inception, NECTAR has offered a growing professional development training program for ECAs focusing on education, research and career development. More than 350 ECAs participate in the program every year.
- NECTAR has a strong track record of fostering people-connections and collaborations across campus and beyond. For example, 5 of the 37 ANU Grand Challenges 2017 were collaborations formed at NECTAR events, two of which made it to the semi-finals. In 2020, more than 500 ECAS attended NECTAR networking events such as weekly Zoom morning teas and NECTAR's research webinar series 'Learning never stops'.
- As a result of an ECA initiative, NECTAR has been delivering the cross-College NECTAR Mentoring Programs 2018-2020, a program sponsored and funded by all ANU Colleges. Since the inaugural program in 2018, more than 700 mentees and mentors have participated in the program.
- In 2020, NECTAR raised an issue with equity of access to ARC grand schemes which prevented ECAs from submitting project proposals. As a result, the Univeristy has committed internal funding to support eligible grant applications.