COVID-19 Impact on Health and Medical Research and Innovation

Research Australia’s submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 has sought to highlight the significant and lasting impact the pandemic will have on Australian health and medical research and innovation.

Research Australia’s recommendations to the Inquiry are:

    • The establishment of a national whole of governments review of Australian research and innovation to properly quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.
    • Commitment to a comprehensive, fully funded strategy for how and where research and innovation will contribute to Australia’s future prosperity and wellbeing.
    • A short-term injection of additional Government funding into research in Australia’s universities and MRIs to preserve existing research capacity while the economy recovers.
    • Extending the JobKeeper scheme to universities would be a good place to start, as would redressing some of the rules that have prevented some MRIs from accessing JobKeeper because of their governance arrangements.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Changes to R&D Tax Incentive opposed

Research Australia has used its submission to a Senate Inquiry to argue against the latest round of changes to the R&D Tax Incentive that have been proposed by the Government.

The changes contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Research and Development Tax Incentive) Bill 2019 are largely the same as the changes the Senate rejected early last year. Research Australia believes the changes are poorly designed and will significantly reduce R&D in the health sector. With expenditure on the R&D Tax Incentive Scheme having fallen dramatically in the last couple of years and with Government support for R&D at an historic low, Research Australia has urged the Senate Committee to reject the changes again.

Research Austrlaia’s submission is available here.

The submission of an alliance of seven groups from across the health and medical research and innovation sector, including Research Austrlaia, is available here.

Australian health and medical research to support our developing neighbours

Research Australia has responded to the consultation by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on a new International Development Policy for Australia.

While the previous policy funded some research, Research Australia’s submission has highlighted the broader role that research can play; providing case studies of different research collaborations and projects being undertaken in the Pacific region and the contributions they are making to better health outcomes.

Research Australia’s submission.

Mental Health and the role for research in improving outcomes

Research Australia has made a submission in response to the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Mental Health. Our submission has focused on recommendations related to the role of the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC), evaluation and mentoring of programs, and the role for research in improving mental health outcomes and the delivery of mental healthcare services.

We have highlighted the significant expertise in program evaluation that exists in the health economics research and health services research community, and the role it could play in supporting the NHMC in evaluating programs. Our recommendations include a role for the NHMC in sponsoring research into gaps in knowledge relating to service delivery and improving the adoption of evidence based care. We have also called for researchers to be given access to data collected and used by the NHMC.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Pre Budget submission calls for renewed investment in R&D

Research Australia’s submission to the Treasurer ahead of the 2020-21 Budget has used the Government’s own figures showing a drop in R&D investment by Government and business to call for a renewed focus on research and development, including health and medical research. In addition to greater investment in R&D across the board, Research Australia has called for increased funding for the research programs of the NHMRC and ARC; action to make better use of data; and investment in prevention.

To read Research Australia’s submission and the full list of recommendations, click here.

Data Sharing- developing new legislation

Research Australia has responded to the Australian Government’s latest Discussion Paper on the development of Data Sharing legislation. The legislation aims to improve the sharing of data by Australian Government departments and agencies.

Research Austrlaia’s submission has urged further consideration be given to how public benefit and commercial use are to be defined and how tests for these might be applied. It has also supported the approach to the accreditation of research institutions and individuals, and  cautioned against ethics approval by an HREC becoming a default requirement for all data sharing applications.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

The next stage will be the release of draft legislation for consultation, expected in early 2020.

Better regulation of complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments

Health and medical research enjoys strong public support because people recognise that health and medical research leads to safer, higher quality and more effective healthcare. Research Australia’s members work hard to contribute to an evidence-based healthcare system that is continually improving the healthcare delivered to patients. This is achieved through the development of new treatments based on scientific evidence which have been rigorously tested and evaluated to ensure they are safe and effective.

In doing so, our members have helped create the impression that all existing healthcare is evidence-based, safe and effective. When this is not the case, we have an obligation to ensure that people are aware that what they are receiving is not routine care, and to alert them to the associated risk and other matters they should consider. Research Australia’s submission to the Medical Board of Australia has called for clear and prominent consumer warnings to be provided when consumers are being offered complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments by medical practitioners that aren’t part of a registered clinical trial.

Research Australia’s submission

 

 

Supporting Clinical Quality Registries – towards a national strategy

Clinical Quality Registries (CQRs) collect and use data about patients’ treatments to improve the delivery of healthcare. CQRs already play a vital role in helping Australia deliver safer, higher quality healthcare, but the approach to CQRs in Australia is ad hoc and fragmented. The Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare has been working for more than a decade to improve this situation and the Australian Government has recently released a draft National CQR Strategy for the next 10 years.

Research Australia made a submission in response to the Draft Strategy, welcoming the progress being made in this area, and making suggestions for how the Draft Strategy could be improved. These include broadening the focus from the clinician/patient relationship to capture other patient interactions with staff that affect health care. Accreditation of CQRs and a sustainable national funding model with the support of state and territory governments are also critical elements for the Strategy.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

A new Framework for Clinical Trials

Research Australia has responded to the draft National Clinical Trials Governance Framework developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. The subject of an extensive consultation, Research Australia is confident the final Clinical Trials Governance Framework will be an important step forward in improving Australia’s capacity to undertake clinical trials and to improve safety, quality and effectiveness. Research Australia’s submission addresses three areas where further clarity can be provided and improvements made.

Research Australia’s response to the Clinical Trials Governance Framework

Research to support Victorian Mental Health Royal Commission

Research Australia has responded to the Victorian Government’s consultation on the Terms of Reference for the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Helath.

Research Australia has recommended the adoption of two specific Terms of Reference. Firstly, we recommended a Term of Reference to identify how health and medical research can be better utilised to:

• identify quality, effective mental health interventions (including for prevention and

early intervention);

• support the more rapid and comprehensive adoption of evidence-based

interventions and models of care in Victorian mental health services;

• improve the safety and effectiveness of Victorian mental health services; and

• develop effective quality care indicators and quality assurance mechanisms.

Secondly, we have recommended the adoption of a Term of Reference requiring the Commissioners to identify specific areas, where it becomes evident during the course of their Inquiry, that more research is needed. Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Research Australia is now awaiting the commencement of the Royal Commission, and the opportunity it provides to highlight the role research can play in improving the mental health of all Victorians.