White paper: A national health and medical research strategy

White paper: A national health and medical research strategy

25th November, 2021

Over the last 25 years Australia has intermittently increased its investment in health and medical research. This has allowed the nation to deliver extraordinary health and economic outcomes along the way, including ground-breaking discoveries such as the development of the cochlear implant, the human papillomavirus vaccine, IVF treatment and the artificial heart valve, to name just a few. It has also delivered outstanding economic returns for the nation, with every $1 invested delivering around $4 in economic benefits, a return far higher than other government investments.

Investment in medical research is growing, but how this investment is being made has lacked national coordination. This is increasing inefficiencies in both how we fund medical research and how we ensure that we are investing in the right areas.

The medical research workforce is highly talented but precariously employed, with little job security and limited opportunities for progression. Progress on tackling gender inequity has been too slow and produced too few results.

Collaboration and cooperation between research and healthcare delivery remains fragmented, delaying the implementation of new and more effective treatments.

Left unaddressed, these issues will erode our future capability and leave us with a much less efficient and effective health and medical research system.

The Australian Government is delivering much-needed funding for on-going medical research, but the nation will not fully realise the benefits of this investment until an overarching and strategic approach to how we support and undertake medical research is developed. With the last major review of this sector, the 2013 McKeon review, undertaken nearly a decade ago, now is the perfect time to consider what needs to come next.

With substantial new government investment in the MRFF to augment existing investments through the NHMRC, there is now a golden opportunity for Australia to be among the world’s best destinations for health and medical research, to build new and sustainable career pathways, and to truly integrate research within the health system. The development of a national Health and Medical Research Strategy will identify Australia’s strategic advantages, as well as the areas where systemic barriers need to be broken down.

Through consultation with members and others in the sector, AAMRI has developed this position paper to set out the case for developing a National Health and Medical Research Strategy. In doing so it has identified opportunities for reform across the three key structural domains that underpin the sector: research, workforce, and funding.

Now is the time for all stakeholders in the medical research sector, including state and federal governments, research organisations, researchers, healthcare practitioners, health services, industry, philanthropy, and the end-users of research, to come together and develop a national strategy that ensures Australia has the world-class medical research sector it needs to address future health challenges.

As a starting point, this paper proposes an Australian Health and Medical Research Strategy focused across three key domains:

  • Research: identifying research needs, aligning strategic investment, integrating research and healthcare delivery
  • Workforce: developing sustainable and rewarding careers
  • Funding: building coordinated and sustainable funding mechanisms

These areas are a starting point and other stakeholders will be able to identify their priorities. We are looking forward to the conversation developing and call on everybody with an interest in the future of Australian medical research to get involved and join AAMRI’s call for the development of a National Health and Medical Research Strategy.

Read our full whitepaper.

To register your support for the development of a National Health and Medical Research Strategy and contribute to its development, email us.