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.

Data Availability and Transparency- Draft Bill and Accreditation Framework

Research Australia has been advocating for many years for improved access to public data for research. We made submissions to the Productivity Commission’s 2016 Inquiry into Data Availability and Use. Strongly supportive of the Commission’s recommendations, we have worked with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on the consultations which have culminated in the release of the Data Availability and Transparency Bill exposure draft and the proposed Accreditation Framework.

The Draft Bill and accompanying Accreditation Framework for researchers are broadly in line with previous consultations and discussions. Research Australia has made some recommendations designed to improve the operation of the legislation and the Framework.

Research Australia’s submission is available here.

The Data Availability and Transparency Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 9 December 2020. Research Australia expects the legislation to be passed by the Parliament in 2021.

Improving approval processes for new drugs and medical technologies

Research Austrlaia has responded to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Approval Processes for New Drugs and Medical Technologies.

Opportunities exist to change our approval processes to benefit patients and better support research and development in Australia. Faster and more effective approval processes mean new medicines and technologies reach patients faster. Improving the environment for clinical trials enables Australian patients to benefit from the latest medicines and technologies developed overseas while also helping Australian health and medical research to flourish in a competitive and lucrative world market. Research Australia’s submission identifies some of these opportunities with the twin objectives of improving Australians’ health and prosperity.

Research Austrlaia’s submission is available here.

The Committee is expected to hold public hearings in early 2021.

Budget Update 2020

Summary

The global economic impact of COVID-19 has been the overwhelming influence on the Budget handed down tonight. This is a big spending Budget, the biggest Australia has seen, focused on providing immediate stimulus to the economy but also laying the foundations for a future Australia, shaped by the lessons of the last nine months.

Most relevant to health and medical research are the following key announcements:

    • Last year’s forecast budget spending on health for 2020-21 was $82.5 billion. This forecast has been revised up to $115.5 billion, as we begin to see just how much COVID-19 is driving up healthcare costs. In the coming months and years, Australians will look to health and medical research and innovation to deliver more effective treatments and more efficient pathways of care to curtail these costs. Research Australia will continue to work with Government to ensure support for the crucial role all parts of the health and medical research pipeline have to play in delivering better, more sustainable care.
    • An extra $1 billion this financial year through the Research Support Program for our university researchers will be critical to maintaining Australia’s national health and medical research capability. More than half of all Australian health and medical research in Australia is undertaken in the higher education sector. It is clear that Australia can no longer rely so heavily on international student fees to subsidise research. In the long term, we need to look at effective partnerships between higher education, government, industry and philanthropy. The commitment in this Budget to supporting university research jobs is a welcome interim step towards establishing a more sustainable higher education sector.
    • The Government will restore an additional $2 billion over 4 years through the Research and Development Tax Incentive to help innovative businesses that invest in research and development. It is doing this by reversing some of the changes to the R&DTI legislation that are currently before the Senate.
    • The budgets for the NHMRC and MRFF remain virtually unchanged. At the same time, researchers are dealing with extra costs to their funded project due to the delays and disruptions caused by COVID-19. While the universities benefit from the one-off increase in the Research Support Program, there is no similar support for researchers in Medical Research Institutes. Research Australia remains concerned that NHMRC funding has not increased over the forward estimates to keep pace with inflation, with the net effect that NHMRC funding continues to decline in real terms.

Broader Context:

One of the key lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we have become overly reliant on global supply chains for vital materials. This is driving a new focus on manufacturing and there are new roadmaps being developed which will, hopefully, join the dots between research, product development and manufacturing more successfully than has been done in the past. $1.3 billion over five years from 2020-21 will establish the Modern Manufacturing Initiative to: support manufacturing projects focused on building long-term business collaboration at scale; translating research into commercial outcomes and bringing new products to market; and integrating local firms to deliver products and services into global value chains. New roadmaps to guide the Modern Manufacturing Strategy are due in time for the 2021 Budget, in six months’ time, including for medical products.

Manufacturing accounts for around 6% of Australia’s economic output but is responsible for a quarter of all industry spending on R&D. However, Australia’s business spending on R&D is low by world standards. If Australia is to achieve the objectives of the Modern Manufacturing Strategy this will have to change, and we have to better connect business with Australia’s powerhouses of research, our universities and medical research institutes.

The Government has made several attempts to reform the R&D Tax Incentive in recent years, and tonight’s Budget is no exception. The R&DTI is critical to increasing business expenditure on R&D in Australia, and thus to the Modern Manufacturing Strategy. The Government is reversing several of the measures which are currently sitting before the Senate. For small business, the $4 million cap goes, and the rate is fixed at 18.5% above the company tax rate. For large companies the number of tiers in the intensity threshold will be reduced to two, with the RDTI paid at a rate 8.5% and 18.5% above the company’s tax rate for tiers one and two respectively. This is expected to increase the amount of R&DTI paid to industry by $2 billion over the forward estimates, compared to the amounts that would have been paid if the legislation had been amended in accordance with the Government’s previous plan.

 

Continue reading “Budget Update 2020”

Research Australia supports budget measures for university based research

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Media Release

Health and medical researchers support interim budget measures for university-based research and urge longer-term sustainability

The $700 million bail-out package for university researchers flagged for consideration in the upcoming federal budget would be critical to maintaining Australia’s national health and medical research capability.

Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin said, “More than half of all Australian health and medical research in Australia is undertaken in the higher education sector. This research is at risk due to the loss of university revenue from international students. Health and medical research is a critical national capability and it must be protected, for its role in saving lives, improving our health system and our post-pandemic economic recovery.”

A Government commitment to supporting universities and research jobs would be a welcome interim step towards establishing a more sustainable higher education sector.

“In the long term, we need to look at effective partnerships between higher education, government, industry and philanthropy. It’s clear that Australia can no longer rely so heavily on international student fees to subsidise research.

“The package mooted in today’s Australian would give the universities some breathing room to consider a longer-term plan for funding research.” Nadia Levin said.

“Immediate measures are needed to provide job security for Australian health and medical researchers. Currently, half the health and medical researchers in this country are employed on short-term contracts. This rises to two thirds of early career researchers.

“Compare this to the broader Australian population where only 5.2% of people with permanent employment are employed on fixed term contracts. It’s easy to see why Australia runs the very real risk of losing a generation of early and mid-career health and medical researchers without some immediate intervention and more focus on long-term sustainability.”

As the national peak body for Australian health and medical research, Research Australia is working with its members from all stages of health and medical research to encourage a united position on research funding.

“We can’t just rely on government funding or international student fees, it is going to need to be a combined effort with industry, philanthropy and the health system. Working together, we’re confident Australia can become a world-leader in health and medical research, generating new STEM jobs and advanced manufacturing industries which will drive post-pandemic economic recovery.”

Research Australia is the national peak body for Australian health and medical research. www.researchaustralia.org

Media contact: Lucy Clynes 0404068912

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.

The Committee’s final report has been delayed and is now to be tabled in the Senate on 24 August.

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 (December 2019)

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.

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.