The national peak body for health and medical research and innovation, Research Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s Medical Science Co-Investment Plan which will strengthen collaboration between government and industry.

Research Australia has been working with the sector to look at ways that government can better work with industry, including through new government procurement measures.

“Australia’s health and medical research sector is one of the strongest in the world – ranking 7th in the world – with health and medical research accounting for 23% of all R&D investment”, Research Australia’s CEO & Managing Director, Nadia Levin said.

“Research Australia welcomes the Medical Science Co-Investment Plan announced yesterday by Minister Husic and Minister Butler and strongly supports some of the areas of potential investment opportunity identified, such as digital health, medical devices, innovative therapeutics and sustainability.”

“There is not only a clear health benefit to investing in health and medical research and innovation but a strong economic benefit, including through the creation of jobs and boosting our economy and local industry”, Ms. Levin said.

Research Australia looks forward to continuing to work with the Federal Government on key policy reforms needed to strengthen Australia’s health and medical research and innovation sector.

This will include convening a Pre-Election Summit on 8 October 2024 in Canberra, bringing together the health and medical research sector to discuss key policy reforms ahead of the next Federal Election.

Research Australia is the national peak body representing all stages of the health and medical research and innovation sector. We represent over 150 organisations across the entire pipeline of research and commercialisation with members including universities, medical research institutes, medical technology companies, pharmaceutical companies, and consumer organisations.



The national peak body for health and medical research innovation, Research Australia, has announced it will once again hold a Pre-Election Summit ahead of the upcoming Federal Election.

The Pre-Election Summit, to be held on 8 October at Old Parliament House in Canberra, will bring the health and medical research sector and Federal parliamentarians together to discuss the important reforms needed over the term of the next Parliament to strengthen the sector.

Research Australia’s Summit will explore a number of key themes, including smarter investment in medical research and innovation; workforce needs; how to better incentivise health system research activity; and key challenges and opportunities for industry.

“Around $9.5B is invested in health and medical research (HMR) each year, with the sector accounting for around 23% of all research and development (R&D) in Australia. Considering this significant investment, Research Australia takes its role as the national peak body very seriously as investment in HMR has the potential to return real outcomes for patients and provide new export opportunities”. said Nadia Levin, CEO & Managing Director, Research Australia

“The Pre-Election Summit is always a key event on not only Research Australia’s calendar, but also for the whole health and medical research and innovation sector.

As we head into an election cycle where we are facing budgetary restraints and a health system crisis, it is important for the whole sector to come together to advocate for key reforms as we know that investment in research is the most important thing the Australian Government can do to not only improve health outcomes for Australians but to improve our health system,” Ms Levin said.

The event will take place on 8 October 2024 at Old Parliament House. More information will be provided closer to the event.

Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research and innovation, we are unique in being the united voice of organisations across the entire health and medical research pipeline, including universities; medical research institutes; the pharmaceutical, medical technology and biotechnology sectors; consumer groups; and health corporates. This year we will be celebrating 21 years of the Health and Medical Research Awards.


Research Australia Appoints Two New Board Members University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson and CSL’s Dr Michael Wilson

The nation’s peak body for health and medical research and innovation, Research Australia, has welcomed University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Patricia M. Davidson and CSL, Vice President of Research, Dr Michael Wilson, to its Board.

Chair of Research Australia Martin Bowles AO PSM said, “It is wonderful to be able to enhance our Board with two well renowned leaders in health and medical research. Professor Davidson and Dr Wilson bring extensive local and international clinical, academic, and drug development expertise.

“Professor Davidson is best known for her contributions to improving cardiovascular nursing and transitional care, with a focus on underserved populations in a global context. Patricia’s contribution to nursing and advocacy for nursing, as well as her leadership in higher education, will be invaluable as we focus on workforce innovation and change in the health and medical research sector.”

“Dr Wilson is an experienced research professional who has spent many years in the biotech industry. Michael has a track record of developing and leading drug development project teams for a range of clinical indications including rare diseases in hematology, immunology, and respiratory therapeutic areas,” Martin Bowles said.

Research Australia’s CEO and Managing Director, Nadia Levin is delighted to welcome two experienced and dedicated individuals to the Board of Research Australia.

Nadia said, “We look forward to working closely with Patricia to learn from her international experience and amplify the work that she is doing championing improved academic and health outcomes for women. As a representative of the health and medical research community on the Government’s Women’s Health Advisory Council, which was an initiative announced by Minister Kearney at the 2022 Research Australia Awards, this is an important cause for Research Australia.”

“Michael brings extensive knowledge and experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector, particularly in early-stage drug discovery and innovation. He is also a member of Brandon BioCatalyst Investment Review Committee and the Centre for Biologic Therapies Governance Committee. This synergy between research and commercialisation is vital for all facets of the health and medical research pipeline,” Nadia said.

Research Australia has also expressed its heartfelt thanks to outgoing Director Dr Andrew Nash, Senior Vice President Research and Chief Scientific Officer, CSL. “While we will miss the expertise and insight of Dr Andrew Nash on our Board, we are delighted that he can continue to share his deep knowledge of the health system with Research Australia as part of our prestigious alumni group,” Martin Bowles said.


Professor Patricia M. Davidson PhD, MEd, RN, FAAN

Patricia joined the University of Wollongong as Vice-Chancellor in May 2021. Prior to her current role, Professor Davidson was dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore in the United States. In 2021 she was the recipient of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Distinguished Leader Award. This honour celebrates her exceptional contributions to the advancement of global health worldwide.

As a global leader in nursing, health care, and advocacy, Professor Davidson’s work focuses on person-centred care delivery and the improvement of cardiovascular health outcomes for women and vulnerable populations. She has extensively studied chronic conditions, transitional care, palliative care, and the translation of innovative, acceptable, and sustainable health initiatives across the world.

Professor Davidson serves as counsel general of the International Council on Women’s Health Issues and was a past board member of CUGH and secretary general of the Secretariat of the World Health Organizations Collaborating Centres for Nursing and Midwifery.

Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson, BSc (Hons), PhD, MBA is Vice President, Head of CSL Research at the Bio21 Institute, CSL’s hub of early-stage research and translational science. Michael and is an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Michael completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 1995 focusing on recombinant vaccines before moving to the UK in 1996, where he researched the genetics and function of immune cell receptors at Cancer Research UK and subsequently at the University of Cambridge. Michael completed his MBA whist in the UK at the University of Warwick.

In 2001, Michael joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) leading a team with a primary focus on autoimmune diseases including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

In 2008, he joined CSL Limited as the Head of Molecular Biology within CSL Research before taking the position of Vice President, Head of CSL Research at the Bio21 Institute. Michael leads a team which focuses on the discovery and development of new protein, cell and gene-based medicines to treat serious human disease.

Research Australia Appoints New Chair of Board Martin Bowles AO PSM

The nation’s peak body for health and medical research and innovation, Research Australia, is delighted to announce Martin Bowles AO PSM, as the new Chair of the Board. Martin will take over from outgoing Chair Associate Professor Annette Schmiede, who will remain on the Board.

Martin has been a distinguished member of the Research Australia Board since 2020 and has been an active contributor to the success of Research Australia.

Martin is a visionary leader who has had an extensive career spanning both public and private arenas. Currently he is the National Chief Executive Officer of Calvary Health Care, responsible for more than 18,000 staff and volunteers, in Calvary’s hospitals, home and virtual care services, retirement living and residential aged care homes across five states and two territories.

Martin joined Calvary in November 2017 following an exemplary 40-year public service career spanning a diverse portfolio of industry sectors in the Commonwealth, Queensland, and New South Wales Governments.

Outgoing Research Australia Chair, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede welcomed Martin to the role saying, “Martin will lead an organisation that is going from strength to strength as we continue championing our impressive health and medical research sector, delivering on Research Australia’s strategic goals and, ultimately, working to improve Australians’ health outcomes.”

Research Australia has expressed its heartfelt thanks to outgoing Chair and Digital Health CRC CEO, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede. Annette has been on the board since 2015 and Chair since 2020.

Research Australia CEO and Managing Director, Nadia Levin, said, “The entire health and medical research sector owes Annette Schmiede a debt of gratitude. She steered us through the challenges and uncertainty of the COVID 19 pandemic, and we came through that unprecedented situation in a stronger and more secure situation due to her leadership and tenacity.

Annette was also instrumental in establishing Research Australia’s Health Economics Roundtable which continues as a key community of practice for both health economists and health services researchers. We are delighted that Annette will remain on our Board, her health policy expertise and insight continues to be invaluable.”

Advocacy Award Sponsored by AbbVie – Mrs Catherine Hughes from the Immunisation Foundation of Australia

Introducing our 2023 finalists: Mrs Catherine Hughes

Australia’s health advocates help transform medical research into tangible outcomes for patients and their communities. The Advocacy Award was created to celebrate the dedication and contributions of our most passionate health and medical research advocates.

Among this year’s finalists in this important category is Catherine Hughes, Director of the Immunisation Foundation of Australia (IFA), who has demonstrated tireless commitment to improving immunisation rates and community support for infectious diseases research.


Catherine’s health advocacy journey started when she lost her four-week-old son Riley to whooping cough in 2015. Determined to prevent other families from suffering because of vaccine-preventable diseases, Catherine and her husband Greg launched the ‘Light for Riley’ campaign.

The award-winning campaign took Catherine across Australia, spreading awareness about whooping cough and the importance of pertussis vaccination during pregnancy. Since the campaign, every Australian state and territory have implemented free pertussis vaccinations for pregnant women and Australia has some of the world’s highest pertussis vaccination rates among pregnant people.


In 2017, Catherine established the Immunisation Foundation of Australia (IFA) and expanded her advocacy to other vaccine-preventable diseases including influenza, RSV, meningococcal and pneumococcal.

As IFA Director, Catherine works closely with research institutes such as the Telethon Kids Institute to create evidence-based awareness campaigns and educational resources. Catherine has also been a consumer investigator on multiple research projects, using her strengths in community engagement to help bridge the gap between scientists and the wider community.

In recognition of her efforts, Catherine was named Western Australia’s Young Australian of the Year in 2016 and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to immunisation in 2022.

Professor Jonathan Rhys Carapetis AM, FAA, FAHMS from the Telethon Kids Institute, who nominated Catherine, stressed the importance of vaccine advocacy in continuing to improve Australia’s public health outcomes.

“With vaccine hesitancy on the rise, being a loud advocate for vaccines can be challenging, and sometimes even dangerous. Yet, Catherine remains steadfast in her commitment to the cause and ensuring that communities are included in immunisation research and delivery,” explains Professor Carapetis.

“Catherine’s ability to connect with communities and deliver the pro-vaccination message with compassion and clarity is exactly the sort of advocacy we need to ensure the future success of immunisation in Australia.”

Catherine said: “I’m honoured to be a finalist in these prestigious Awards, along with other outstanding advocates for health and medical research. Our hope is that Australians from all walks of life will take action to remain up to date with whooping cough vaccination. We all have a role to play to spread this vital message and prevent the loss of loved ones like Riley.”

The winners of Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards will be announced at a gala award ceremony in Sydney on November 2.

Griffith University Discovery Award Finalist – Dr Caitlin Jones from The Institute for Musculoskeletal Health

Introducing our 2023 finalists: Dr Caitlin Jones

It is an honour to be celebrating Australia’s research talent at this year’s Health and Medical Research Awards. Generously sponsored by Griffith University, the Discovery Award recognises an early-career researcher who is already making an important impact with their work.

Among the Discovery Award finalists for 2023 is Dr Caitlin Jones, who was awarded her PhD earlier this year and has already demonstrated research excellency through her leading role in the OPAL trial: a 12-month long study on the use of opioids for treating back pain.


 Lower back and neck pain are two of the most burdensome conditions among adults. Over 619 million people worldwide experience back pain at any one time[1] and between 40-70% of those who present for care are prescribed an opioid.[2]

Despite opioid prescription being common, there is little evidence to support its effectiveness for back pain. The harms from opioid use range from minor side effects like constipation, dizziness and nausea, to long-term harms such as dependence, addiction, and overdose. In Australia alone, opioid use causes 50 hospitalisations, 14 emergency department admissions, and 3 deaths every day – at a cost of over $5 billion each year.[3]


Dr Jones was the first author on the OPAL trial, published in The Lancet earlier this year. OPAL was a study of 347 people with acute non-specific back and/or neck pain in which half of the participants received an opioid (oxycodone/naloxone) and the other received a visually identical placebo. The groups were treated for up to six weeks, monitored for 12 months, and evaluated at the 2, 4, 6, 12, 26, and 52 week marks. Participants also reported daily pain scores for the first 12 weeks.

Dr Jones and the team discovered that those in the opioid group had worse outcomes compared to the placebo groups in several measures including pain, quality of life/mental health and physical function.

Current clinical guidelines recommend the prescription of opioids when other treatments have failed or are not appropriate. However, the OPAL trial clearly shows that they should not be used at all for this condition.

“OPAL is the world’s first and largest placebo-controlled trial of opioids for acute back and neck pain. The previous guidelines for opioid use were based on indirect evidence,” explains Dr Jones.

“The OPAL trial will help shift international guidelines and, as a result, reduce the many unnecessary harms caused by opioid prescriptions.”

The winners of Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards will be announced at a gala award ceremony in Sydney on November 2.

[1] World Health Organisation. (2023, June 19). Low back pain. World Health Organisation.

[2] Ferreira GE, Machado GC, Abdel Shaheed C, et al. (2019). Management of low back pain in Australian emergency departments. BMJ Quality & Safety, 28(10), 826-834.

 [3] National Drug Research Institute. (2020). The cost of opioid use to Australia: $15.7 billion and 2203 deaths. NDRI News.

Data Innovation Finalist – Professor Georgina Chambers and the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, UNSW

Introducing our 2023 finalists: Professor Georgina Chambers and the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, UNSW

Research Australia is proud to recognise all of the outstanding finalists in this year’s Health and Medical Research Awards, and we look forward to celebrating their work at the Award gala on November 2.

This year, we’re sharing a few of their fantastic stories as an insight into some of the exciting research happening now in Australia. Keep an eye on our social media channels for more about this year’s finalists.

Research Australia is a passionate advocate for the importance of data in advancing Australia’s health sector. Through the Data Innovation category in the Health and Medical Research Awards, we celebrate an individual or team whose work could revolutionise the use of data in the medical research field.

This year, our finalists include the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit (NPESU) at UNSW, who are pioneers of data innovation in the Australian IVF sector.


 Infertility is a growing public health challenge, making IVF an important focus area for health researchers. Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples[1] and is amplified by the continuing societal trend towards later childbearing. As a result, more people are having children using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) with 1 in 18 children born using ART in Australia[2].

Embarking on IVF treatment is a major life decision that can have profound effects on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Patient decision aids such as online calculators for success or risk have been shown to help patients feel more comfortable during the decision-making process. However, up until recently, there has been no way for patients to independently compare IVF clinics across Australia, or to gain an unbiased estimate of their own chances of IVF success.


 Supported by a MRFF Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research

Grant, the NPESU developed and launched the YourIVFSuccess website – the first Australian website to help consumers make informed decisions about IVF treatment. The website includes two consumer tools that were co-designed with end-users and demonstrate best practice in co-production, AI modelling, and interactive website design.

The website allows consumers to compare IVF clinics across Australia and utilises machine learning to provide those contemplating IVF with highly personalised predictions of their chances of success.

Since its launch in 2021, YourIVFSuccess has made a significant impact, with more than 110,000 visitors and 158,000 sessions, and monthly site visits continuing to increase.

“Our recent evaluation showed that the YourIVFSuccess Estimator has greatly helped those contemplating or going through IVF to realign their expectations of treatment success and to feel clearer in their decision-making,” says NPESU Director Professor Georgina Chambers.

“We are also updating the Estimator to include IVF success rates for same-sex couples, single females, and those contemplating using donor eggs or donor sperm. This will make YourIVFSuccess Estimator the only one in the world to cater for these patients, which is an important step for providing more inclusive IVF treatments.”

We look forward to celebrating the finalists and announcing the winners of the National Health and Medical Research Awards at a gala ceremony in Sydney on November 2. A small number of tickets remain: purchase here.

[1] IVF Australia. (n.d.). What is infertility? IVF Australia.,Australian%20couples%20of%20reproductive%20age.

[2] Chambers GM, Newman JE and Paul RC. (2023). Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2021. (2023). UNSW Sydney.

Frontiers Award Finalist – Professor Jürgen Götz

Introducing our 2023 finalists: Professor Jürgen Götz

Research Australia is proud to recognise all of the outstanding finalists in this year’s Health and Medical Research Awards, and we look forward to celebrating their work at the Award gala on November 2.

This year, we’re sharing a few of their fantastic stories as an insight into some of the exciting research happening now in Australia. Keep an eye on our social media channels for more about this year’s finalists.

The Frontiers Award acknowledges research by an individual or group that transforms medical knowledge into practical solutions, with the promise of improving health outcomes within Australia and potentially abroad. The Frontiers Award is generously sponsored by the Australian National University.

Among this year’s outstanding finalists in this exciting category is Professor Jürgen Götz, Director of the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research at the University of Queensland, who has helped develop a portable ultrasound scanning device with a range of applications in dementia treatments.


Dementia involves the loss of memory and cognitive abilities and is a serious health challenge both in Australia and globally. Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia and almost half a million Australians live with it[1]. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people living with dementia is expected to increase to more than 800,000 by 2058[2].

So far, research efforts have focused on drug treatments, but with limited success. To date, more than 200 therapeutic drug candidates have failed, and despite decades of ongoing research there is still no cure for dementia.


Professor Götz and his team have created a non-invasive ultrasound device that can be used to directly treat dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s as well as to enhance the effectiveness of current drug treatments.

Professor Götz has a long track record of showing how the peptide amyloid-β and the protein Tau lead to dementia. Through his studies, Professor Götz has further successfully demonstrated how various therapeutic ultrasound techniques can be used to clear these pathologies. In animal studies, Professor Götz and his team have also shown how ultrasound techniques can safely open the blood-brain barrier and help deliver drugs directly to target brain areas. Finally, they have built an investigational medical device that is currently being trialled in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

By 2036, the total cost of dementia is predicted to increase by 81 per cent to $25.8 billion[3].

The portable technology developed by Professor Götz and his team has the potential to be a low-cost, non-invasive treatment that can massively reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes worldwide.

“The choice between ultrasound or drug treatment doesn’t have to be binary. Ultrasound therapy can go hand-in-hand with emergent drug treatments,” said Professor Götz.

“Given that 98 per cent of drugs developed for brain diseases do not enter the brain, the therapeutic potential of our strategy extends beyond Alzheimer’s and could go a long way in improving treatments for many other diseases of the brain.”

The winners of Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards will be announced at a gala award ceremony in Sydney on November 2. A small number of tickets remain: purchase here.

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Dementia in Australia. AIHW, Australian Government.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Alzheimer’s Australia. (2017). Economic cost of dementia in Australia: 2016-2056. NATSEM, University of Canberra.

Budget 2023 Update


Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ mini Budget in October last year implemented some of the new Government’s election promises and cut some former Government’s programs. Tonight, the Government has delivered its first full Budget, setting the agenda and responding to the ongoing pressures of high inflation, a Medicare system in need of reform, a housing crisis and the need to decarbonise and diversify our economy.

The surprise Budget surplus for this year has been delivered, in part, by higher than expected commodity prices. Commodity prices are expected to fall in the future, and the Government has committed to diversifying our economy with more high value advanced manufacturing, including medical products. While some progress is made in this Budget, there is still more that can and must be done.

The rising cost of living has continued to be a key political issue. In the March 2022 Budget, the CPI was forecast to be 3.0% for 2022-23. The Budget tonight expects inflation to have peaked, at around 7% p.a. and to fall to 3.25% over 2023-24. Inflation increases the cost of undertaking health and medical research and innovation. Government funding for research has failed to keep pace with inflation over successive Budgets. This Budget delivers some relief with real increases in funding for ARC programs, while the NHMRC’s MREA is forecast to keep up with inflation.

Please read on for our summary of what this Budget means for health and medical research and innovation.

Health Portfolio

Improved digital health systems

The Budget includes a $951.2 million over 4 years investment in digital health technologies to build a more efficient, connected and collaborative healthcare system. This includes:

    • $325.7 million, to make the Australian Digital Health Agency an ongoing entity, so that it can continue to deliver important digital health infrastructure, including upgrading My Health Record. Only one in 10 medical specialists currently use My Health Record and only one in five diagnostic imaging reports are uploaded. We continue to await further information on a Framework for secondary use of My Health Record data for research purposes.
    • $429 million to ensure that My Health Record is easier to use, is compatible with the information and billing systems that health practitioners are already using, and connects the health system so that patients can access and securely share their health data.
    • $126 Million to renew the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Digital Health for 4 years to progress the secure, safe and efficient sharing of information across the health system.

Australia’s first National Clinical Quality Registry Program receives $40 million over 4 years. Nominated areas are dementia, cystic fibrosis, and pelvic floor disorders. This is good news, reversing several years of delays; registries are a vital bridge between healthcare and research.

Australian Centre for Disease Control (ACDC)
The Government is fulfilling its election promise to create the ACDC, backing up the $3.2 million allocated in the October Budget for preparatory work with $91.1 million to establish an ‘interim’ Australian Centre for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Aged Care and replenish the National Medical Stockpile.

Other announcements include

  • $260m invested in a new national lung cancer screening program, with at risk Australians able to get a lung scan every two years, as recommended by the independent Medical Services Advisory Committee.
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will receive $61 million over 4 years for a range of activities aimed at protecting public health) including continued assistance to small and medium enterprises particularly those developing emerging technologies.
  • $26.3 million over 4 years to support equity in the healthcare system and improve the health of Australian women and girls), including through the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Maternity Data development project.
  • $900,000 to develop a 10 Year National Action Plan for the Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people, and to establish an LGBTIQA+ Health Advisory Group.

Consistent with Research Australia’s sustained advocacy on this issue, this Budget sees the Government’s funding to the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account appear to just keep up with projected inflation, but with an unexplained decline in funding in the last year of the forward estimates. The MRFF funding meanwhile is static at $650 million per annum, meaning it fails to keep up with inflation and is declining in real terms.


Medical Research Future Fund

The funding available from the MRFF each year is dependent on the investment return on its capital. For 2023-24 the Future Fund Board of Guardians has determined the amount available for grants of financial assistance is $870 million. [1] Despite this, only $650 million has been made available as funding in 2023-24. And this is despite an underspend in 2022-23 of more than $50 million.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
Funding from MRFF 2023 Budget   598.0 650.0 650.0 650.0 650.0
Funding from MRFF 2022 Budget (OCT) 650.0 650.0 650.0 650.0
Funding from MRFF 2022 Budget (MAR) 650.0 650.0 650.0 650.0

There are programs that could be extended or expanded immediately, including support for early and mid career researchers and continuation of the highly regarded REDI program. Other programs could be established or piloted relatively easily, including the Clinical Research Fellowships proposed previously by Research Australia.

We will be working with the Government to understand why funding to the MRFF hasn’t been increased in 2023-24 even though more funding is available and what the intentions are for future years.

NHMRC Programs

Funding for the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account has increased slightly since the October Budget, to $910 million in 2023-24. An increase of around 3.6% over 2022-23, this is about equivalent to forecast inflation. There are similar annual increases in the next two financial years, before a drop of around $12 million in 2026-27. There is no explanation at this stage for the forecast decline. Overall, the MREA is set to at least keep pace with expected inflation over the next few years, an improvement on years of real declines in funding.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
Funding to MREA 2023 Budget 877.952 910.652 940.330 962.039 949.747
Funding to MREA 2022 Budget (OCT) 877.952 905.160 922.365 938.095
Funding to MREA 2022 Budget (MAR) 877.952 891.094 905.355 918.985

Revamping Primary Care

This Budget responds to the recommendations of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, delivering $6.1 billion to strengthen Medicare through:

    • A $3.5 billion investment to triple bulk billing incentives, for free GP consultations for 11.6 million children under 16, pensioners and other Commonwealth concession card holders; and
    • A $1.5 billion indexation boost to Medicare rebates –the biggest increase in 30 years.

Additionally, more than 300 medicines will be cheaper for 6 million Australians who will be able to buy 2 months’ worth of medicine with a single prescription. Fewer visits to the GP and pharmacy will save patients an estimated $1.6 billion.

MyMedicare ($19.7 million over 4 years) will build a stronger relationship between patients and their primary care teams. It is voluntary and open to anyone, with patients able to register with their preferred practice, GP and care team. MyMedicare will also support access to longer telehealth consultations ($5.9 million over 4 years).

It is interesting to see focused funding for cutting-edge patient clinical services will be funded through Medicare ($118.2 million over 5 years) including:

    • genetic testing for childhood hearing loss
    • genetic testing for haematological malignancies
    • profiling tests to determine a patient’s risk of recurrent breast cancer
    • testing for the diagnosis of mitochondrial disease.

While the Research Australia welcomes the major changes this will make to the delivery of primary care in Australia for the next decade and beyond, there has been no commitment to fund research to guide the design and implementation of these measures, or to support their evaluation. Measures to boost the primary care workforce similarly, do not include support for researchers to generate the evidence for improved primary care.


Education Portfolio

Nearly half of all Australian health and medical research is undertaken in the higher education sector, and the Department of Education makes a significant contribution to the funding of this research through several programs, as outlined below.

ARC Programs

The Australian Research Council’s Funding Programs are critical to Australian publicly funded research, including to the life sciences and medical technologies.

Discovery Program

Over the forward estimates in this Budget, funding to the ARC for the Discovery Program increases by 8% in 2023-24 compared to this year, and by an average of 8% per annum in 2024-25 and 4% in 2025-26 and by 3%% in 2026-27. This means the Discovery Program is forecast to increase slightly in real terms (i.e. at a rate higher than inflation).


$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 511.074 552.390 599.499 629.581 646.895
2022 Budget (OCT) 511.074 551.867 596.388 622.986
2022 Budget (MAR) 511.074 535.915 562.406 585.206

Linkage Program

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 317.251 343.808 373.989 402.784 430.918
2022 Budget (OCT) 319.503 345.731 374.289 400.792
2022 Budget (MAR) 340.820 357.704 375.595 390.950
2021 Budget 329.948 334.109 339.622
2020 Budget 325.240 327.074 N/A
2019 Budget 301.741 N/A N/A

The ARC Linkage Program has been charged with delivering the Industry Fellows component of the University Research Commercialisation Scheme. Accordingly there is a boost to the Linkage Program’s funding in the next financial year of around $26 million compared to 2022-23, and annual increases in subsequent years of 8% to 9% per annum. This means that like the Discovery Program, the Linkage Program is forecast to increase in real terms (i.e. at a rate higher than inflation).

Research Support

In addition to providing funding for the ARC research programs, the Department of Education provides funding to universities to help cover the indirect costs of research.

In the 2020 Budget, the Government used the Research Support Program to provide a vital one off injection of $1 billion into higher education research in that financial year, with funding in subsequent years reverting to normal’.  The 2023-24 Budget provides increases of around 5% per annum in the Research Support Program from 2023-24, meaning that funding for this program also increases slightly in real terms if inflation is as predicted.

Research Support Program

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 951.188 1005.282 1064.389 1101.524 1131.792
2022 Budget (OCT) 951.188 1004.314 1058.779 1089.934
2022 Budget (MAR) 951.188 978.674 1,002.668 1,028.230

Funding for the indirect costs of research funded by the MRFF is provided from the Research Support Program. With the MRFF providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to universities, a substantial increase in the Research Support Program is needed just to maintain the levels of research support funding for research projects at their current already inadequate level. The issue of indirect research costs remains unresolved for the whole health and medical research sector and indeed publicly funded research more broadly. Research Australia continues to call for a whole of government approach to the issue of funding indirect research costs.

 Research Training

The Research Training Program (RTP) provides funding to universities to support higher degree by research students (mostly PhDs). Funding for the RTP declined in absolute terms between the 2019 and 2020 Budgets, and only partly recovered in the 2022 Budget. Consistent with the October Budget, the latest Budget provides increases of around 6% per year in 2023-24 and 2024-24, before the annual increase drops to around 3%. Inexplicably, funding actually declines slightly in 2026-27, to $1.26 billion.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 1092.766 1154.911 1222.827 1264.691 1260.070
2022 Budget (OCT) 1092.766 1153.800 1216.372 1251.497
2022 Budget (MAR) 1092.766 1124.344 1151.909 1181.153

Australia’s Economic Accelerator

The Australia’s Economic Accelerator was announced in the March 2022 Budget, but the legislation was only passed earlier this year. This is a $1.6 billion program over 10 years, administered by the Department of Education to overcome the valley of death that currently exists between the point at which public research funding ceases (typically publication) and the point at which commercial investors are prepared to get involved. Unlike ARC programs, the Accelerator is open to application for medical products. The funding for the program reflects the delayed start in 2022-23 with higher funding over the forward estimates in subsequent years.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 10.172 99.536 163.247 161.646 212.089
2022 Budget (OCT) 10.172 99.444 162.395 159.95
2022 Budget (MAR) 49.160 99.444 149.498 154.601

National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) Program

The NCRIS Program funds vital national research infrastructure needed to support Australian research. The most recent National Research Infrastructure Roadmap nominated synthetic biology, digital research infrastructure, collections (biobanks) and facilities to scale up materials for clinical trials.

This Budget maintains the forecast annual boost to NCRIS of more than $100 million from 2023-24. The new Research Infrastructure Investment Plan should provide more detail about how this funding will be allocated once it is completed; hopefully it will be announced soon.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 286.043 402.290 503.116 462.850 372.323
2022 Budget (OCT) 286.043 400.028 499.848 458.338
2022 Budget (MAR) 286.043 396.826 496.739 454.441


Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio

National Reconstruction Fund

Fulfilling another election promise, the Government earlier this year passed legislation to create the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF). The NRF will invest $15.0 billion over 7 years from 2023–24 to provide targeted co-investments in seven priority areas: resources; agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors; transport; medical science; renewables and low emission technologies; defence capability; and enabling capabilities.

The NRF is expected to generate revenue from investments, with estimated receipts of $188.7 million over the forward estimates from the $15 billion of investments in loans, equity investments and guarantees. The returns will be reinvested to ensure the NRF’s sustainability.

CRC Program

The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program is important to health and medical research and innovation, with many of the CRCs funded over the 30 year life of the program being health related. Current CRCs include the Digital Health CRC and the Autism CRC.

The smaller CRC projects program is also relevant, with recently funded projects including the creation of better brain electrodes and development of a bionic medical device that delivers high-fidelity visual-spatial perception for blind people. Funding for the CRC Program is scheduled to increase slightly faster than forecast in the March 2022 and October Budgets, but not quite enough to keeping up with projected inflation.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 199.374 200.532 208.046 205.199 209.737
2022 Budget (OCT) 199.374 199.962 205.054 201.579
2022 Budget (MAR) 199.374 193.117 197.070 193.540
2021 Budget 197.815 191.042 193.807 N/A


The CSIRO has Flagship Programs relevant to health and medical research and is a key collaborator and partner in research. While it generates much of its own revenue it is also funded by the Government. The Government contribution to the CSIRO outlined in the Budget rises in the next two financial years before dropping back again. There are slight increases on the funding outlined in the October Budget.

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 991.134 1,008.739 934.391 945.155 948.486
2022 Budget (OCT) 949.037 991.134 1.005.563 919.405 931.573
2022 Budget (MAR) 949.037 991.289 985.625 899.352 904.477

New beamlines for Synchrotron

ANSTO’s Australian Synchrotron continues its partner-funded $98 million BR-GHT beamline expansion program, with eight new beamlines being constructed. This will nearly double the Synchrotron’s capacity and allow for broader engagement with researchers and industry in a range of applications, from high-tech manufacturing, including aerospace and transport, to health, including drug development and medical implants.

Entrepreneurs’ Program makes way for Industry Growth Program

The Entrepreneurs’ Program is a long standing funding program to support the commercialisation and development of new innovations. This Budget signals the end of the program, with a slow decline over several years, presumably as existing commitments are concluded.

$m. 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26 26-27
2023 Budget 126.900 53.384 9.208 2.298 3.008

The Entrepreneurs’ program is being replaced with a new $397 million Industry Growth Program, providing grants of between $50,000 and $5 million to startups. It is focused on the same target areas as the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF), including medical products, and is designed to support new businesses to the point where they are eligible for investment from the NRF.


Research Australia will continue to provide analysis and commentary in the coming days and weeks. We invite your responses and reactions to how the 2023 Budget affects you and your work.

You can share your views with us at our 30-minute budget analysis as part of our NEW – Member Event Series. We will provide a snapshot of Federal budget changes that affect the funding environment for Australian health and medical research and innovation.


When:  Thursday 11 May 2023

Time:  12 midday – 12.30pm (AEST)

Platform:  Zoom (details to be supplied after registration.)

If you have not yet registered, please click here.


Please contact Greg Mullins, Head of Policy,


Ends …..

[1] Australian Government Future Fund, Determination pursuant to section 34(1) of the MRFF Act 2015 Maximum annual distribution for financial year 2023-24, obtained under FOI