A photograph of Parliament House at night.

Explore highlights and priority areas related to health and medical research in our analysis of the 2022-23 Federal Budget .

You can also download our analysis.

1         Summary

Industry and commercialisation feature prominently in the budget, albeit as a result of many initiatives already announced as part of the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan. This benefits all disciplines including health and medicine.

Funding for NHMRC remains roughly at indexation, ARC projections are slightly higher than indexation and are also bolstered by funds associated with the commercialisation scheme. Meanwhile, the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) capital balance is higher than anticipated, although annual spend on initiatives is in line with previous estimates at $650 million per year.

There is also a new ten-year plan for the MRFF, which includes 384.2 million to support Australia’s upcoming early to mid-career researchers.

Overall, over four years from 2022–23, the Government is investing $6.8 billion in medical research, including:

  • $2.6 billion from the Medical Research Future Fund
  • $3.7 billion from the National Health and Medical Research Council
  • $500 million from the Biomedical Translation Fund.

The budget also confirms a range of announcements already made, including for instance:

  • $100.0 million over five years for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
  • $375.6 million over four years to help establish the Western Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
  • $28.1 million over four years to establish Genomics Australia.
  • Investments to establish sovereign mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability.

There is also $5.3 million over two years to improve the National Science and Technology Council’s provision of science and technology advice to the Government.

2         Policy priority areas for the Academy

2.1       COVID-19 and pandemic response

  • The budget confirmed $100.0 million over five years from 2021-22 to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a call for which the Academy’s President previously supported, and a further $85.0 million to access vaccines for low income counties through the COVAX Facility.
  • The budget also confirmed previously announced funding associated with an agreement with Moderna to establish sovereign mRNA vaccine manufacturing capability in collaboration with the Victorian Government. The facility will be based in Victoria and will provide Australia with priority access to mRNA vaccines, and support research and development and domestic preparedness for possible future pandemics.
  • Government spending to address the COVID-19 pandemic will continue, for instance including measures to strengthen Australia’s response to emerging infectious diseases by supporting the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies, along with funding for the continued distribution and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines across Australia, access to health care services, and to reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19.
  • There is also $55.7 million to encourage Australians to resume having their regular health checks, diagnostic screening, and other preventive health activities, including:
    • $10.2 million for a cervical cancer screening campaign promoting the rollout of self-collect tests.
    • $10.2 million for a colonoscopy triage nurse pilot to help improve colonoscopy access.
    • $9.7 million for short term surge capacity for BreastScreen Australia.
    • $5.9 million for rapid cervical screening testing and follow-up, including Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities.
    • $4.1 million for a pilot of non-medical healthcare provider delivery of cervical screening.

2.2       Climate change and health

  • The Government will provide support for the recovery from the February/March 2022 floods in New South Wales and Queensland including:
    • $10.0 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to support the mental health of school-aged children in the Northern Rivers region affected by the recent flood event.
    • $4.7 million over 2 years from 2021-22 to support primary health care services for flood impacted regions.

2.3       Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

  • The Government is investing more than $133.5 million to prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, with a total investment of $4.6 billion over four years.
  • Specific health initiatives and funding to benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include:
    • $5.9 million to support priority populations, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culturally and linguistically diverse background (CALD) communities, to catch up on missed health screening opportunities.
    • $8.6 million to establish the National Closing the Gap Policy Partnership on Social and Emotional Wellbeing to maintain momentum in reducing the devastating impact of mental ill-health and suicide on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities.
    • $2.4 million, as part of the $16.6 million to support local mental health services in response to the 2022 East Coast floods, for local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to deliver culturally appropriate, locally-designed mental health services in impacted communities.

2.4       Early to mid career researchers (EMCRs)

  • The new Medical Research Future Fund 10 Year Investment Plan includes funding of $384.2 million to support Australia’s upcoming early to mid-career researchers to keep them engaged with the sector and working on Australia’s greatest health challenges. The Government notes that this initiative will particularly assist women in research, who are often the most disadvantaged, especially those who also have primary caregiving responsibilities.

2.5       Science advice

  • $5.3 million over two years from 2021-22 to improve the National Science and Technology Council’s provision of science and technology advice to the Government and to continue support of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science event.

2.6       Industry and commercialisation

  • On 1 February 2022, the Government launched the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan to accelerate reform in the higher education sector for translation and commercialisation research capacity. As previously announced, the Government will provide $988.2 million over 5 years from 2021-22 (and around $325.1 million per year ongoing) to drive university-industry collaboration, workforce mobility and research translation and commercialisation. Funding includes:
    • $505.2 million over five years from 2021-22 (and around $182.3 million per year ongoing) to establish Australia’s Economic Accelerator (AEA) grants to support university research projects from proof-of-concept and proof-of-scale through to commercialisation.
    • $295.2 million over five years from 2021-22 (and around $142.8 million per year ongoing) to establish new research training pathways for students and researchers, creating new opportunities to work with industry through new Industry PhDs and Fellowships, and deliver reforms to the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Program.
    • $150.0 million in equity funding over five years from 2021-22 to expand the CSIRO Innovation Fund (Main Sequence Ventures). The venture capital investment will progress AEA projects with high commercialisation potential to reach at-scale test and prototype stages.
    • $37.4 million over four years from 2022-23 to establish CSIRO’s Research Translation Start program to take research from the lab into the market by building the entrepreneurial capacity of the research workforce.
  • The Government is announced the “Biotechnology in Australia – Strategic Plan for Health and Medicine” to support the development of a vibrant and thriving biotechnology sector in Australia. Biotechnology is creating medicines and technologies that can combat debilitating and rare diseases, helping to improve the health of thousands. It will aim to grow capacity and capability to research and manufacture biotechnology in Australia.
  • The Government is also extending the period in which the Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) can make initial investments by a further 3 years (to 30 June 2026) to support the commercialisation of biomedical discoveries.
  • The Government will expand the patent box, announced in the 2021-22 Budget and currently before Parliament, to support the Government’s technology-focused approach to reducing emissions in line with the Government’s target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

3        Health and medical research funding

3.1       MRFF

MRFF capital

The balance of the MRFF capital is now over $22 billion which is better than previously expected by around $1 billion. This increase in MRFF balance is predicted to continue through to 2025-26 with the fund reaching $23.5 billion.

MRFF Funding for medical research

The funding for medical research from the MRFF has reached the maximum annual disbursement of $650 million as expected.

The Government will continue to invest in medical research by committing a further $1.3 billion under the MRFF Ten Year Investment Plan. In total, the $6.3 billion MRFF Ten Year Plan will provide research funding from 2022-23 across the following themes:

  • $2.1 billion, representing a further $604.8 million, for medical translation to support medical discoveries become part of medical practice
  • $1.5 billion, representing a further $114.9 million, for medical research to help researchers tackle significant challenges through investment, leadership and collaboration
  • $1.4 billion, representing a further $117.4 million, to support patients by funding innovative treatments, supporting clinical trials, and delivering more advanced health care and medical technology
  • $1.3 billion, representing a further $495.4 million, for medical researchers to make breakthrough discoveries, develop their skills and progress their careers in Australia.

In this Budget, the Government is providing $303.5 million in new grants and funding opportunities to assist researchers around the country to tackle health problems including dementia, the wellbeing of Indigenous mothers and their babies, and cancer. The grant funding, which is divided among newly announced grants and newly opened opportunities, comes from the MRFF.

3.2       NHMRC

NHMRC research funding through the Medical Research Endowment Account remains steady for 2022-23 with some indexation.

3.3       ARC

Funds for ARC grant schemes are a little higher than indexation. See the tables below for further details.

Discovery program

Linkage Program

4         Research and innovation infrastructure and programs

4.1       University support

Support through the Research Support Program and Research Training Program is slightly higher than expected.

Research support program

Research training program

4.2       Women in STEM

The continuation/extension of existing initiatives including:

  • $4.7 million over four years from 2022-23 to continue support for the Women in STEM Ambassador initiative and the Future You national digital awareness-raising initiative.
  • $2.0 million over four years from 2021-22 to extend the Superstars of STEM program to continue raising the profile of Australian women in STEM and inspire the next generation.

 5. Health system support – other measures

  • The Government will provide $69.0 million over two years from 2021-22 for the Japanese Encephalitis Virus National Plan.
  • The Government will provide $170.2 million over five years from 2021-22 (and $4.9 million per year ongoing) for preventive health initiatives.
  • The Government will provide $547.0 million over five years from 2021-22 to provide mental health Stage 2 reforms through the five pillars of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan – Prevention and Early Intervention, Suicide Prevention, Treatment, Supporting Vulnerable Australians and Workforce and Governance. This includes research funding such as:
    • $3.9 million over three years from 2022-23 for innovative, evidence based mental health and suicide prevention research activities
    • $4.0 million over two years from 2022-23 for suicide prevention research.
  • The 2022–23 Budget includes an additional $522.0 million in aged care to further the work of these reforms, bringing the total investment over four years to $18.8 billion
  • The Government will provide $163.3 million over four years from 2022-23 for a package of initiatives to improve women’s health and further support the implementation of the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030.
  • The Government will provide $423.7 million over five years from 2021-22 to support specialist facilities and research to fight and prevent cancer.
    • $375.6 million over four years from 2022-23 to contribute to the establishment of the Western Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Perth. The Centre will provide multi-disciplinary cancer care, research and clinical trials in a purpose-built facility for all types of cancers
    • $28.1 million over four years from 2022-23 to establish Genomics Australia from 1 January 2024 to drive the translation and integration of genomics into the Australian healthcare system.
    • $15.0 million over four years from 2021-22 to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Cancer Genome Facility to establish a cancer genomics laboratory, operating in partnership with SA Pathology.
    • $5.0 million in 2022-23 to the Pancreatic Centre at Epworth to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer, undertake research and develop education materials.