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.

Responsible AI in healthcare

In June 2023 the Department of Industry, Science and Resources announced a consultation on steps Australia can take to mitigate the potential risks of AI.

Addressing the questions posed in the Discussion paper, Research Australia’s submission endorses a risk based approach to the regulation of the development of AI in healthcare, and expresses support for the existing role of the Therapeutic Goods Administration in respect of AI in medical devices. It also calls for dedicated research to understand where AI is posing risk in health care and how these risks can best be mitigated.

Getting better value from the MRFF and the NHMRC’s MREA


In May the Department of Health announced a national consultation focused on optimising the government’s funding arrangements for health and medical research by improving strategic alignment and coordination between the MRFF and the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account. Research Australia welcomes this initiative and the commitment that this reform will be undertaken within the broader context of a new National Health and Medical Research Strategy, a long-term campaign by Research Australia (and others).

Following consultation with our membership, Research Australia has made a submission in response to the Discussion paper.

Unified governance of the MRFF and the MREA presents a real opportunity to ensure the MRFF Priorities are developed with greater regard for what the MREA is funding, thereby ensuring better differentiation and complimentarily of the two funds. There is also an opportunity to address equity and health disparities through more coordinated and streamlined funding.

Research Australia has largely supported the proposed Model 2 as a way of improving coordination while recognising the distinct objectives and purposes of the two funds. Establishing one administrative funding body provides the opportunity for successful research projects to graduate more seamlessly from one funding program to the next including from an NHMRC program to an MRFF program. T

This new model must be delivered in such a way that preserves the MRFF’s funding for medical innovation, and that input from outside academia and medical research institutes is retained. Stakeholders from commercialisation, finance, and industry have a meaningful advisory role in both the priority setting and funding processes of the MRFF. Basic research can be funded by the NHMRC in a way that will ultimately support MRFF Priority areas if the two funds are better aligned.

Finally, a Workforce Plan must form part of the broader national HMR Strategy. This Workforce Plan should seek to address the challenges faced by early and mid-career health and medical researchers and identify careers/jobs critical to a future economy underpinned by a thriving innovation and modern manufacturing sector.

Consultation on changes to align the MRFF and MREA are ongoing and Research Australia is continuing to liaise with the Government on the sector’s behalf on these important reforms. If you would like to get involved please contact Research Australia’s General Manager Lucy Clynes at lucy.clynes@researchaustrlaia.,org or Head of Policy Greg Mullins at

Research Australia’s submission is available here.  

The role of research in supporting Health Technology Assessment

The Health Technology Assessment Policy and Methods Review is a commitment in the 2022-2027 Strategic Agreement between the Commonwealth and Medicines Australia being conducted by the Department of Health.

The HTA Review is being undertaken by a Reference Committee. In this initial phase of the consultation, the Committee has sought feedback on specific questions, with responses to be made by electronic submission.

Research Australia has responded to two questions in the survey, highlighting the role that research in HTA can play in improving Australia’s system for HTA.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

Research Australia looks forward to responding to the Reference Committee’s draft recommendations for change in the next phase of the Review.

Doubling Philanthropy by 2030

The Commonwealth Government has set an ambitious target to double philanthropic giving by 2023 and has asked the Productivity Commission (PC) to advise on how this can be achieved. The PC has launched an Inquiry, and in this first phase it is seeking data on philanthropy and ideas on actions the Government can take to achieve this goal.

Philanthropy plays a critical role in funding health and medical research and innovation in Australia. Research Australia’s submission has provided information about the nature of philanthropy in our sector and the role it plays in complementing other sources of funding. We have drawn on our many years of annual opinion polling to provide information about motivations for donating to research, tax deductions, trends in donations and attitudes to charities partnering with government to jointly fund research.

We have suggested that a more strategic approach by the Australian Government to working with charities could lead to efficiencies and greater effectiveness in the funding of HMR.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

We will also respond to the second stage of the PC’s Inquiry, later in 2023. If you would like to join our working group on philanthropy, please email Greg Mullins, Head of Policy, at