In response to the Government’s call for submissions for the 2021-22 Budget, the Academy has highlighted the importance of an adaptable, skilled and responsive research and innovation sector working in concert with government, industry and the community.

Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its success in maintaining low case numbers and fatalities has highlighted the importance of long term investment in research and innovation to navigate the knowns and unknowns imposed by the novel coronavirus.

Australia has been at the forefront of research efforts on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 – leading the world in characterising the virus and deploying effective public health measures, and working at the cutting edge to develop diagnostics, vaccines and treatments. Australia was able to move quickly in these areas as a result of the expertise built from past investment in public health and basic laboratory research in areas such as microbiology and immunology.

To ensure that research and innovation are utilised to drive forward Australia’s economic and societal recovery from the pandemic and beyond, the Academy has called on the Government to strategically invest in five areas:

Investing in research and innovation

Gross expenditure on R&D must increase annually in real terms and should be returned to a positive trajectory as a proportion of GDP, ideally working towards a longer term goal more consistent with the OECD average.

Building research infrastructure and workforce capacity

Funding is needed to build Australia’s research infrastructure capacity and associated multi-disciplinary expertise, particularly to serve preparedness plans. Facilities must be agile to allow re-purposing if necessary.

Strengthening and securing our workforce

To support early- and mid-career researchers (EMCRs) across the sector’s disciplines, funding should be made available for additional emerging leadership NHMRC Investigator Grants to target the best and brightest applicants in the pool.

Embedding research in the health system to improve health and wellbeing

The benefits of embedding research and its translation in the health system are clear. These endeavours must be a priority objective across the health system and governments should use innovative incentives to encourage service providers to increase their commitment to research.

Providing science advice for the benefit of all Australians

Expert scientific advice has played a key role in addressing the pandemic. Australian governments’ efforts to seek out the evidence to inform decisions should be celebrated and the renewed bilateral relationship between governments and the sector nurtured and cemented.

The Academy’s full response can be downloaded below.

You can read more on AAHMS’ pre-budget submission on our Policy page: https://aahms.org/policy/2021-22-pre-budget-submission/