The commencement of the Opt Out period for the My Health Records (MHR) in July led to heightened concerns about privacy, and in particular the ability of law enforcement agencies and other third parties to obtain access to an individual’s MHR without a court order. The Government has introduced a Bill to amend the legislation and address this issue. Research Australia has made a submission to the Senate Inquiry considering the Bill. Research Australia supports the Bill and the need to ensure public confidence in the MHR.
Research Australia has a made a comprehensive submission to the consultation on the new MRFF Priorities 2018-2020.
Working with our broad membership, Research Australia’s approach was to start with the Strategic Platforms and examine every Priority and all the existing and proposed funding programs. We looked at how well they were aligned, where the gaps were, and what wasn’t working. Research Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution made by our members through discussions and the exchange of ideas and proposals.
Research Australia proposes that four Priorities be retained in their current form and that a further seven be retained but amended. We also propose five existing Priorities be discontinued and six new Priorities created. Research Australia’s response to the consultation is available here.
With the consultation period now completed, the next stage rests with the MRFF Advisory Board which is responsible for developing and issuing the next Priorities. We wish the Board well with this important task and look forward to seeing the new MRFF Priorities towards the end of 2018.
The Productivity Commission has recommended that if Australia is to make better use of Government held data, including for research purposes, the law needs to be changed. The Government has acted on three key recommendations of the Productivity Commission in its proposal for new Data Sharing and Release legislation. This includes providing a new framework and guidance for the release of data by Government departments and agencies; creation of a new National Data Commissioner (NDC), to oversee the Framework and champion the release and use of data; and the creation of accredited ‘trusted users’ to facilitate access to data by researchers.
Research Australia’s submission is broadly supportive of the proposals in the Paper but has suggested an expanded role for the NDC and raised some concerns about how the accreditation of ‘trusted users’ will be implemented. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has committed to further consultation and we await the development of draft legislation by the end of 2018.
Research Australia has made a submission in response to the draft amendments to the R&D Tax Incentive legislation, the latest round of changes since the legislation commenced seven years ago. Research Australia’s submission addresses two key issues.
The first is our concern that the definition of clinical trial is not broad enough to ensure the exemption from the $4 million cap on R&D expenditure will apply to all clinical trials activity, particularly for medical devices. We have worked with other peak bodies, including Ausbiotech and BioMelbourne Network, to propose an alternative and more inclusive definition.
The second main concern relates to the proposed reduction in the rate of the R&D Tax Incentive. For early stage companies seeking to commercialise new pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies and devices, this has the effect of directly reducing their cashflow at a critical stage in their development. Research Australia has opposed the rate reduction.
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.