Submission: Responding to the Inquiry into Health and Medical Research in South Australia draft report

Submission: Responding to the Inquiry into Health and Medical Research in South Australia draft report

21st October, 2020

AAMRI has responded to the draft report from the South Australian Productivity Commission (SAPC) on the Inquiry into Health and Medical Research in South Australia. AAMRI’s response to the draft report builds on AAMRI’s earlier submission to the inquiry in May 2020.

During 2020, this inquiry has been examining the performance of health and medical research and development including trends in grant funding, research output and activity, research collaborations and commercialisation.

AAMRI’s submission focusses on four key areas that were discussed in the draft report:

  1. Building research capability in South Australian through strategic and coordinated investment.
  2. Clarification of the research funding model for Australian universities and medical research institutes.
  3. Feedback on the proposed alternative structure and governance for SAHMRI
  4. The impact of COVID-19 and implications for the Commission’s final recommendations

This feedback is intended to assist the Commission in developing recommendations that will both identify mechanisms to increase the productivity, scale and impact of South Australian health and medical research as well as increase national investment in South Australian research.

AAMRI has put forward the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Coordinate South Australian Government strategic investment in health and medical research by:

    • Developing a South Australian Health and Medical Research Strategy to set state-wide priorities for investment
    • Establishing an office of health and medical research within the Department of Health and Wellbeing to implement the strategy and coordinate the activities set out in Draft Recommendation 5.1, 1b.
    • Appointing a Minister for Medical Research in South Australia who would oversee the activities of the office of health and medical research.

Recommendation 2: The Commission should reassess proposed recommendations that act on the inaccurate assumption in the draft report that universities are supported by a higher level of government funding and funding stability compared to independent medical research institutes.

Recommendation 3: For the development of SAHMRI as a centre of clinical research excellence, AAMRI supports a modified version of Option 3. This would see:

    • SAHMRI maintained as an independent health and medical research institute with the purpose of research excellence for health and medical research and translation.
    • Increased focus on clinical research for the institute through a greater engagement with local health networks, especially the Central Adelaide Local Health Network and the Women’s and Children’s Health Network.
    • Changes to the governance model of SAHMRI to include an independent skills-based Board, and replacement of current members with the Minister responsible for health and medical research and the Board Directors.

Recommendation 4: The Commission should consider the economic and societal impacts of COVID-19 on research funding models, the research workforce and the way that research is conducted when finalising their recommendations.