Research Australia’s submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Research Funding has proposed a review across all funding agencies and government departments to eliminate unnecessary inconsistencies in application guidelines, processes and acquittal procedures. We also called for the development of a common approach to the calculation and payment of funding to cover the indirect costs of research.
Research Australia’s submission to the Parliamentary Committee’s Inquiry into Stillbirth Research and Education has acknowledged the enormous burden of stillbirth on bereaved families, and the scope for further research to address this issue.
The submission has highlighted the range of Australian research programs and funding that can be utilised for stillbirth research and our existing research expertise in this area.
The Committee’s report will be released later this year.
Research Australia has urged the Expert Panel responsible for undertaking WA’s Sustainable Health Review to give greater emphasis to the role health and medical research can play in creating a more sustainable health system for Western Australians.
While welcoming the identification by the Review Panel of the need to ‘Harness and support health and medical research, collaboration and innovation’ as one of the Interim Report’s 12 Directions, our response further elaborates the role for health and medical research in achieving the other 11 Directions identified by the Review Panel. We have used examples and case studies provided by our WA members to highlight the many ways that research is already helping reform WA’s health system, and the many opportunities to further leverage and expand this partnership for the benefit of the whole community.
The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee is inquiring into the ‘accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia’. Research Australia’s submission to the Committee’s initial call for submissions has emphasised the important role that research can play in both understanding and overcoming the issues rural and remote Australians face in getting access to mental health services. Research Australia has encouraged the Committee to engage with Australia’s heath and medical researchers in the course of its Inquiry.
Research Australia’s submission to the Taskforce on the Aged Care Workforce Strategy emphasises the technological changes facing the aged care sector in the next decade and beyond, and the opportunities this change provides to improve and extend the quality of life of ageing Australians. It also looks at how the future aged care workforce can be better prepared for the aged care workplace of the future, and the new roles, skills and capabilities this will entail.
Finally, an aged care workforce strategy needs to be integrated with other strategies and work to prepare for the future of aged care service delivery. We need a research and innovation strategy for the aged care sector to support the evaluation and integration of new technologies into aged care, and the development of new technologies and other innovations in the delivery of aged care.
Research Australia has made a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017, arguing that the regulatory burden the Bill will impose on research organisations that engage in public comment on Government decisions, programs and legislation is unwarranted.
In particular, Research Australia has focused on the definition of ‘political expenditure’ in the Bill, which could include activities such as responding to Government reviews and inquiries, and the fact that the Bill will capture research grants from overseas funding bodies as ‘gifts’ that need to be monitored in relation to political expenditure.
The Inquiry received many submissions from charities and other organisations about the Bill. On 9 April 2018 the Committee released its report, recommending that several parts of the Bill be reconsidered and amended by the Government. The report is available from the Committee’s website here. The Government has yet to respond. Research Australia will continue to monitor developments.
Australian Laureate Professor Jacques Miller has been jointly awarded the prestigious Japan Prize for research undertaken in the 1960s that established the basic concepts underlying modern immunology and led to the development of immunotherapies which have saved countless lives around the world.
Professor Miller undertook this research while working at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne, in collaboration with American researcher Professor Max D Cooper. The Japan Prize Foundation said the work of the two winners laid “the conceptual groundwork for our understanding of nearly all fields touched by immunology.”
‘Research Australia congratulates Professors Miller and Cooper on this very significant award, recognising the extraordinary contribution they have made to science and human health’ said Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin. ‘This award is further evidence of the long history of world class health and medical research undertaken in Australia, and the contribution it makes to better human health around the world. It is also a reminder of the need for patience. New discoveries in basic research can take decades to make an impact in the community, but when they do the benefits can be immense’.
Professor Miller is also widely regarded as the last person to discover the function of a human organ, the Thymus, and is a previous recipient of the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London and the Prime Minister’s Science Prize (2003). Although he formally retired from WEHI in 1996 he continues to be actively involved in immunology research at the Institute.
Professor Miller becomes just the second Australian researcher to win the prize since it was first awarded in 1985, joining Professor Frank Fenner who won the award in 1988 for overseeing the eradication of smallpox.
The Japan Prize is awarded annually to scientists and engineers from around the world who have made significant contributions to the advancement of science and technology, thereby furthering the cause of peace and prosperity of mankind. More information is available at http://www.japanprize.jp/en/index.html
Research Australia made a submission to the Senate Committee inquiring into the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2017 Measures No. 1) Bill 2017. This Bill is the latest instalment in amendments to implement the recommendations of a Review conducted in 2015 with the aim of improving the processes for the approval of medicines and medical devices by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and to provide consumers with better information.
Research Australia supported the amendments to improve access to potentially lifesaving medicines for patients with few or no other options. In doing so, it will implement a scheme that is similar to those already operating in the USA and European Union.
Research Australia also supported the proposed changes to the marketing of complementary medicines, although we urged the Senate Committee to recommend the legislation be amended to include disclaimers to the effect that the efficacy claims for the products have not been independently assessed and/or are based on traditional use rather than scientific evidence.
The Senate Committee issued its Report on 2 February, noting Research Australia’s submissions. It has recommended that the Senate pass the Bill. In responding to concerns raised by the Committee about advertising of complementary medicines, the Department has outlined measures that will be taken to ensure the public is aware that efficacy claims are based on traditional use rather than scientific evidence. The Committee has also urged the Government to ensure the TGA is adequately resourced to undertake its monitoring activities.
Research Australia’s submission to the Treasurer has urged him to use next year’s budget to invest in the implementation of the many forward looking policy initiatives the Government has undertaken in the past two years. From increasing access to data, developing a research infrastructure investment Plan and fully capitalising the MRFF, there are plenty of opportunities to lay the foundations for the knowledge based economy Australia needs to prosper in the future.
Our submission also emphasises how further investment in health and medical research and innovation is central to this plan for a healthier and more productive population, a more efficient healthcare system and a more prosperous Australia.
Research Australia’s submission in response to the NHMRC’s Peer Review Consultation has urged the NHMRC to consult further on options for a two stage application process for the Ideas Grants.
There is considerable interest within our membership and across the health and medical research sector in a two-stage application process, and while there is not yet agreement on the approach, there is an appetite for change. Research Australia believes that a two-stage application process for Ideas Grants, incorporating an abbreviated application at the first stage, provides the chance to reduce the burden on applicants and reviewers alike, while better supporting the objectives of Ideas Grants to promote innovative and novel research.
In particular, the process could provide the focus on novel and innovative ideas and reduced emphasis on track record that the NHMRC is seeking. Research Australia’s submission explores the opportunity to adopt a two-stage application process for Ideas Grants and puts forward some considerations for further investigation and consultation.