Friday, April 15, 2011

First time for everything

Yesterday, I did something I've never done before.

I rallied! I protested and I marched. I didn't hold a placard or shout very loud, but I added to a crowd and took time out of work for something I cared about.

The reason? Fellow Australians may have seen media coverage about the planned funding cuts to medical research (the National Health and Medical Research Council [NHMRC]), in the form of $100 - 400 million over 3 years.

I appreciate that no one wants funding cuts in any area, and no one wants to pay higher taxes either. And a summer of cyclones and floods has contributed to an understandable budget shortfall, which the current government is grappling with.

But the difficulty with cutting funding to health research, is that it will ultimately increase costs for health care.

Without funding, researchers will go overseas, research on preventable disease will stop (and so will our efforts to get better at preventing disease), and research on cancer and heart disease (which contribute some of the biggest costs to health care) will stop.

Research on mental health will definitely stop (it's already under-funded within the system), and research on how to effectively treat disease will stop.

I know I have a biased opinion, given I work in health research myself, but the research system is already under-resourced and I can't conceive of a healthy Australia if funding is reduced further. As I have been a patient as well as a researcher, I also know first hand that there are diseases and disorders for which we don't have effective treatments.

Lastly, I think it deserves note that in 2009, the success rate for funding applications submitted to the NHMRC was 23%*. Less than 1 in 4! This isn't a sector that is over-funded.

So, I rallied. Along with 1000 to 2000 others in Western Australia, and over 7000 others in other states earlier this week.

    Excuse the blurry phone photos

Will it make a difference? I don't know. But at least we tried.

And in case you were worried, I suspect that this will be my last politically-related rant on here :)

* Source:


  1. Hear hear! I absolutely agree. Mental health is such a key (and sadly growing) area, and needs more rather than less funding. Thank you for stepping out for this!

  2. sigh, so many funding holes in our medical system fullstop. Good on you for taking part.


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