News

Government funding cuts to research funding: short term gain, long term pain


12 April 2011

The impact of threatened cuts to the National Health and Medical Research Council will have far greater consequences than government has anticipated as attendees at the national rallies being held around Australia today will hear.

Nowhere is this more true than for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research community. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior research fellow at the George Institute for Global Health, Suzanne Ingram, is very concerned for the future of all researchers but particularly for those within her own community.

"There are very few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in Aboriginal health research. If these funding cuts proceed the roadblocks will be even greater and other Aboriginal researchers will not have the same opportunities.

"Deaths from heart disease, kidney disease and stroke are five to eight times higher in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than in the non-Indigenous Australians. Building research capacity among Aboriginal researchers and on topics critically relevant to Aboriginal people is essential to closing the gap in health status.

"My research is about how to effectively communicate health messages to urban and rural communities. Without research to understand the most effective means of communicating health messages and therefore reducing risk factors we face ever increasing rates of these diseases.

"Cuts to research budgets will mean an end to the important gains we have made in this area. I am very concerned whether the Government has not even considered this as a consequence of the short-sighted cuts they are planning," said Ms Ingram.

The George Institute researchers, staff, family members and friends will join the rally in Sydney and lend their voice to the protest.

"Taking action to protest these threatened cuts is unprecedented in our professional history," said Professor Chris Maher, Acting Director of the George Institute.

"If these cuts are allowed to go ahead it is not only the future of health and medical research that will suffer, the health of all Australians is at risk here because we reduce the opportunity for major health discoveries.

"Our young researchers will be attracted overseas, where funding is available. We will no longer be able to attract international expertise to this country because funding is not available. It is a very short-sighted and damaging decision to proceed along this path," said Professor Maher.


Media enquiries: Sue Murray, George Institute for Global Health, 8238 2423, 0401 771 457, smurray@georgeinstitute.org.au