A National Immunisation Strategy to 2030

In May 2024 The Department of Health and Aged Care released a consultation paper to support the development of the Next National Immunisation Strategy for 2025-2030. The consultation paper proposed a vision, mission, priority areas, and opportunities for action for the next Strategy.

Research Australia’s submission has welcomed the overall direction of the Strategy but proposed some amendments to the Vision and Mission. We have also highlighted areas where the Strategy could better engage and make use of researchers, including the secure sharing of more data, and learning the lessons of the COVID pandemic. We have also proposed an expert panel from research organisations and industry to periodically advise on the latest developments and trends in vaccine development and delivery technologies.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Effective and meaningful consumer involvement in HMR

In March 2024, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia Ltd (CHF) commenced a review of the 2016 Statement on Consumer and Community Involvement in Health and Medical Research (the Statement).

The Statement aims to support consumer and community involvement across all types and levels of health and medical research.

Research Australia’s submission has supported the expanded involvement of consumer and community representatives in HMR while emphasising the need for research organisations and funding bodies to appropriately train and resource researchers to ensure the involvement of consumers and community representatives is effective and meaningful.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

The Chronic Disease Framework and the role of research

In March 2024 the Department of Health and Aged Care commenced a refresh of the National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions.

‘The Framework was published in 2017 with a timeframe of eight years, from 2017 to 2025. The Department of Health and Aged Care (Department) is leading a review and refresh of the Framework to ensure it remains current, accurate and relevant.

The refresh of the Framework will consider how chronic conditions can best be prevented and managed for all Australians, including priority population groups.’ (Consultation paper, page 7)

Research Australia made a submission in response to the consultation on the initial Strategic Framework, and has now followed this up with a response to the new consultation, emphasising the need to identify a broader role for research.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Research in perimenopause and menopause

Research Australia has responded to the Senate Inquiry into issues related to perimenopause and menopause.

Our submission identifies areas in which further research into perimenopause and menopause is required; and where research is needed to improve the understanding of existing evidence on menopause and perimenopause among the medical community, individuals, employers and disadvantaged populations.

Our current knowledge of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and their prevalence and impact in the Australian community and economy is patchy. This lack of evidence is impairing the response to perimenopause and menopause in Australia. We recommend a more strategic approach to the funding of research into menopause and perimenopause in Australia to address these gaps.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

 

Pre Budget Submission calls for greater investment in health and medical research and innovation

Research Australia’s Pre Budget submission to the Treasurer ahead of the 2024 Budget has made the case for increased investment in Australian health and medical research and innovation to support a healthier and more prosperous Australia.

The Australian Government’s investment in R&D is below the OECD average.

There is an additional $323 million approved for release from the MRFF in 2024-25 that the Government is not investing in medical research and innovation.

The Universities Accord process provides the ideal opportunity to increase the investment in the NHMRC, ARC and indirect research costs.

We have advocated for a greater role for the Australian Centre for Disease Control, for the greater use of Government procurement to support Australian innovation, and for the full development of the National HMR strategy and workforce strategy.

Read Research Australia’s submission here.

 

The future of National Digital Research Infrastructure

As part of development of the new NCRIS Investment Plan, the Department of Education is developing a National Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy.

The Strategy aims to provide a vision and strategic direction to steer the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) response to major challenges facing Australia’s NDRI system and guide Government investment and decision making.

Research Australia’s submission to the Consultation has proposed a definition of ‘digital research infrastructure’ and a vision that better reflects the expected outcomes if the Strategy is successful. We also emphasised the need to consider and prepare for the increasing complexity of data as well as increased volumes of data.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Linking National Science Priorities to strategies and funding

Research Australia’s response to the Draft National Science and Research priorities has focused on Priority 2: Supporting Healthy and Thriving Communities.

The draft document identifies several improvements to the health and wellbeing of Australia’s population as the objectives of this Priority. Research Australia’s submission makes the point that while research can provide the evidence for new approaches, responsibility for applying the evidence and delivering better health outcomes lies with our Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, through the health system and public health programs they provide, and through the provision of other services and programs which affect the social and environmental determinants of health and wellbeing.

Research Australia’s submission also emphasises the importance of alignment with other national strategies, in particular the National Strategy for Health and Medical Research (under development), disease specific strategies (e.g. prevention, obesity, mental health) and with research funding bodies.

Read Research Australia’s submission here.

Broadening research participation

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research provides guidelines for researchers, Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) and others conducting ethics review of research.

The NHMRC undertakes a rolling review of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, examining one section at a time. The revised draft section 4 provides advice for both researchers and HRECs addressing ethical considerations specific to participants in research.

The statement places a particular emphasis on an inclusive approach to research participation and consideration of the potential research participants, their characteristics and circumstances as individuals. Research Australia has supported this approach but highlighted that it also potentially requires additional resources and expertise within the research team.  We have emphasised that this additional time and cost must be reflected in research budgets and timeframes and recognised by research funding programs.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Universities Accord Interim Report points the way to better research

Research Australia’s submission responds to three key issues identified in the Expert Panel’s Interim Report.

The first relates to the career prospects and professional development of early and mid-career researchers. Research Australia proposes that this be a shared responsibility of research funders, universities, researcher managers and researchers. We also welcome further consideration of programs to support exposure to roles in industry and government during the completion of a higher degree by research.

The second relates to the funding for indirect research costs. We propose a new structure for the future funding of direct and indirect research costs and two distinct principles to guide the structure. We also propose that funding for National Research Infrastructure be included in these deliberations.

Research Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of our membership to our initial submission and to this response to the interim report; particularly members of the Research Australia University Roundtable and the Research Australia Early and Mid-Career Working Group.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Submission to Diabetes Inquiry calls for better data and action on diabetes research

The Minister for Health and Aged Care has asked the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport to conduct an inquiry into Diabetes in Australia. Research Australia’s submission highlights the failure of the most recent National Diabetes Strategy to develop useful measures of progress and the absence of funding for the proposed research agenda, or any mechanism or structure to implement it.

This is an issue that has arisen consistently with recent health agendas and plans (e.g. dementia, primary care) that propose a research agenda as part of the plan but have no funding and no means of implementing it. Research Australia has proposed the Inquiry consider a role for the Australian Centre for Disease Control in the application of research to chronic diseases.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.