Championing research in Primary Care

The Primary Health Reform Steering Group has been charged by the Australian Government with assisting the development of a 10 year Plan for Primary Care. Research Australia has used its submission to the Group’s Discussion Paper to make the case for a greater role for research in the new 10 year Plan.

Research Australia welcomes the Plan’s recognition of the key role research can and must play if reforms are to be achieved. Research Australia has argued for research to be integrated onto the system and to be informed by primary care practitioners (including nurses and midwives, allied health and general practitioners) and patients and carers.

As the national peak body for health and medical research, Research Australia has included case studies from its members of relevant primary care research that demonstrates the expertise available in Australia to support implementation of the Steering Group’s Plan.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Supporting further research in mitochondrial donation

Research Australia’s submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021 has endorsed the cautious and rigorous approach the legislation takes to permitting research into the development of mitochondrial donation techniques. The approach of initially allowing mitochondrial donation as part of a clinical trial is an appropriate recognition of the stage of development of this technology. It ensures that mitochondrial donation will only occur with the informed consent of participants and in a highly regulated environment.

Read Research Australia’s submission.

The Senate Committee tabled its report in the Senate on 18 August. Read the report.

A Preventive Health Strategy for Australia enabled by research

Following a Discussion Paper released in 2020, the Australian Government released a draft National Preventive Health Strategy for consultation in early 2021.

Research Australia’s response to the consultation emphasises:

    • the critical role of research in supporting the evaluation of existing programs and measures and the development and implementation of new programs;
    • the importance of the proposal to increase funding for preventive health measures to 5% of health expenditure by 2030; and
    • while providing information is an important tool to empower and support people, supporting people to make the best possible decisions also require practical strategies and programs that can support and incentivise behaviour change, and policies that make it easier for people to make healthy choices.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Our response to the earlier 2020 Discussion paper is available here.

University Research Commercialisation

The Australian Government is undertaking a scoping study to understand how to best implement a University Research Commercialisation Scheme to better translate and commercialise university research outputs. It has appointed an Expert Panel and issued a Discussion Paper.

Research Australia’s response to the Discussion Paper addresses the role of ‘Missions’, the use of stage-gating and the role of co-funding by Governments, universities and industry. It highlights the critical need to better align existing funding programs and fill the gaps to provide a more seamless approach to research funding from basic research through to commercialisation.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Critical Technologies Consultation

The Australian Government’s Critical Technologies Policy Coordination Office is identifying critical current and emerging technologies with the capacity to significantly enhance or pose risk to Australia’s national interest, including our economic prosperity, social cohesion and national security. One of the key areas identified is health.

Research Australia’s submission to the consultation on health related technologies has emphasised the opportunity to address supply chain issues in the development and manufacturing of new technologies in Australia.  Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Better Use of Commonwealth Data

The Data Availability and Transparency Bill is intended to improve researcher access to datasets held by Commonwealth Government Departments and Agencies.  Its introduction to Parliament follows a three year consultative development process triggered by recommendations for legislative reform contained in the Productivity Commission’s report on the Availability and Use of Commonwealth Government Data. The Bill is the subject of an Inquiry by a Senate Committee.

Research Australia has been closely engaged with the development of the Bill and is supportive of its passage through Parliament. Our submission includes case studies of the public benefits that can be achieved from the use of health data, and the current barriers to access and use of data.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

 

Response to Health Department Consultation on Productivity Commission Recommendations on Mental Health

Having commissioned an Inquiry into mental health by the Productivity Commission, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing has now undertaken a consultation on the recommendations contained in the Commission’s final report.

The Consultation was undertaken using an electronic survey, which has restricted the response to each question to a maximum of 500 words. Research Australia’s response to each of the questions posed by the survey is provided in our submission. Our responses emphasise:

    • the critical role of research in supporting the evaluation of existing programs and measures and the development and implementation of new programs;
    • the need to focus on implementation and scalability as part of translating research findings into new and effective preventive mental health programs; and
    • the essential role of data in evaluating the effectiveness of programs and the performance of the mental health system as a whole.

Research Australia acknowledges the contribution of our members to this submission, especially Black Dog Institute, Orygen, SANE Australia and Beyond Blue.

2021 Pre Budget submission calls for renewed investment in R&D

Research Australia’s Pre Budget submission to the Treasurer ahead of the 2021 Budget  focuses on the vital role of health and medical research and innovation in Australia’s  response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the manufacturing and innovation opportunities that health and medical research presents for Australia’s economic recovery.

It calls for renewed investment in R&D by the Australian Government, continued support for universities and medical research institutes with meeting indirect research costs, and measures to support medical products R&D and manufacture. The case for increasing NHMRC and ARC funding is also made. Funding for Government initiatives in data sharing and preventive health are among other measures sought.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Research to improve Aged Care quality

Counsel assisting the Aged Care Royal Commission have made their final submissions to the Commissioners, and the public has been given the opportunity to comment on the recommendations. This was the last chance for public input before the Commissioners provide their report to the Government in early 2021.

Research Australia has followed the progress of the Royal Commission closely. We urged the inclusion of research in the Commission’s original terms of reference and we have liaised with the Commission’s officers to connect them with researchers who were able to assist the Inquiry.

We have been pleased to see the reliance the Commission has placed on research to understand the current system and its failures as well as to explore alternatives. It is clear that research can play a critical part in improving the delivery of aged care services and in helping Australians to age well, and we have welcomed the prominence the final recommendations to the Commissioners give to research.

Research Australia’s response to the final submissions document is limited to two recommendations. Recommendation 55 deals with the creation of an Aged Care Research Council with a dedicated research budget. Recommendation 56 deals with creation of a minimum national aged care dataset and the availability of data to researchers. Finally, we have responded to the request for public response to remarks made by Commissioner Briggs in respect of Research and Data Governance.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Medical Products Roadmap Consultation

Research Australia has responded to the consultation being undertaken by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources to support the development of a Medical Products Manufacturing Roadmap under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative announced in the October 2020 Budget. Medical products is one of six strategic areas being targeted under the MMI for Government spending of $1.3 billion over five years.

The Consultation was undertaken using an electronic survey restricted the length of the response to each question. Research Australia’s response emphasises:

    • the opportunity to support the manufacture of products and materials for clinical trials;
    • the opportunity this provides to scale to full scale manufacturing, keeping the full scale manufacturing of medical products developed in Australia on shore; and
    • the opportunity to support manufacturing in high value medical products.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.  These proposals were further developed in Research Australia’s January 2021 Pre Budget submission, available here.

The Government subsequently released the Medical Products National Manufacturing Priority Roadmap in February 2021. Research Australia’s proposal to support manufacturing for clinical trials as part of the Roadmap was adopted, and identified as a pathway to scaling up of manufacturing capability. The Roadmap is available here.