Taking Preventative Action

4.3 Recommendation: National Research Infrastructure

Establish:

  • a National Strategic Framework for preventative health research;
  • a preventative health strategic research fund; and
  • a national preventative health research register.
The Commonwealth Government is committed to building the evidence base for effective preventative health interventions.

The Government has already committed $13.1 million to the Australian National Preventive Health Agency through the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health for research translating evidence into policy and programs. These funds could be used to evaluate existing or new (pilot) programs and will support the overall evaluation of the National Partnership Agreement to ensure that lessons are derived and disseminated. This commitment addresses the Taskforce’s recommendation to establish a preventative health strategic research fund.

The NHMRC is the agency responsible for managing health research, including prevention. The NHMRC has a range of existing and new schemes aimed at investing in applied health research and research translation including Targeted Calls for Research, Centres for Research Excellence (CREs), Partnership Grants and proposed Partnership Centres in Research Excellence. These grants schemes also seed the development of a culture of research oriented to policy and practice in the Australian research community. To support its role and in recognition of the growing policy importance of prevention, the NHMRC established the Prevention and Community Health Committee in 2009. The Committee provides advice on a range of preventative health matters and will support the development of clinical guidelines, including the upcoming dietary guidelines due to be completed in 2011.
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The Taskforce’s report notes Professor Nutbeam’s review of NHMRC Public Health Research Funding in Australia,19 which the NHMRC considers is a ‘partner’ to the report, and which is under active consideration and implementation within NHMRC. In response to the review, new categories of funding, including a practice-focused Public Health Centre for Research Excellence, were established last year and the CRE is already active in research. Professor Nutbeam also recommended a National Public Health Research Strategy, which the NHMRC will develop in collaboration with the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, once established.

The Commonwealth Government will consider further the national preventative health research register once the Australian National Preventive Health Agency is established.

Develop a network of prevention research centres which would:
  • partner with community interventions in the region they serve, with NGOs and other collaborators;
  • have a national specialty role (for example, in obesity, tobacco or alcohol, school settings or disadvantaged populations); and
  • have a workforce development role in education, research and intervention practice.
The Commonwealth Government will refer this recommendation to the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, once established, and the NHMRC for consideration and scoping. Given current research capacity in preventative health and in order to avoid duplication, such a network is likely to be based on coordination of existing centres.

NPA to foster leadership, mentoring and knowledge sharing across the prevention research centres, including hosting an annual symposium to share research findings, methods and ideas.

The Commonwealth Government will refer this recommendation to the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, once established, and the NHMRC for consideration and scoping.


19 Prepared by the Public Health Research Advisory Committee, Chaired by Professor Don Nutbeam. 2008.
Report of the Review of Public Health Research Funding in Australia: Working to build a healthy Australia.


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Page last updated 19 May, 2010