Research Australia, the national alliance for Australian health and medical research, has welcomed strategic investment in medical research and innovation announced in this week's 2022-23 Budget but expressed concern at the lack of further investment in key funding streams, including the NHMRC and ARC.
Research Australia said it welcomed much-needed support for primary care research, the establishment of Genomics Australia and two new Rural Health Departments at Edith Cowan and Curtin Universities and a Rural Clinical School at Charles Sturt University.
“A framework to identify gaps and align future initiatives to support the biotechnology sector is also very good news and investment in mRNA further supports Australia as a global leader in RNA research,” said CEO Nadia Levin.
“We need further significant investment like this if we are serious about innovation and creating future industries.
“We also applaud the continued investment in the MRFF Frontier Health and Medical Research initiative, which was designed by Research Australia in partnership with the Department of Health,” she said.
However, while these key announcements supporting health and medical research and innovation are great news, Ms Levin said there is a worrying continuation of the real terms decline in funding for both the ARC and NHMRC.
“This is of genuine concern to the health and medical research community, and it jeopardises our long-term research capability and increases the precariousness of research careers. The pandemic has shown us just how much we need these critical skills and they are not developed overnight. Research is a long term, sustained investment and these funding bodies are crucial to guiding our future,” she said.
“It has real impacts for all Australians who rightly expect health and medical research to protect their health and it’s a missed opportunity to build new industries and skills creation in health as a sector.”
“The rising cost of living has been addressed in the Budget with cash payments, tax relief and cuts to the fuel excise however, increasing inflation also affects health and medical research, making the cost of undertaking research higher; and an insecure workforce means we are at risk of losing the skills of those we most need from a health and economic perspective,” added Ms Levin.