Submission to the Inquiry into the efficiency, effectiveness and coherency of Australian Government funding for research

On Wednesday 9 May 2018 the House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training adopted an inquiry referred by the Minister asking the Committee to inquire into and report on the efficiency, effectiveness and coherency of Australian Government funding for research.

A joint submission by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) at La Trobe University made the following key points:

1. That research funding should not be allocated by government outside of the peer review process.
2. That there are opportunities to reduce inefficiency in research grant application processes.
3. That the Australian Government is missing an opportunity to increase return on research investment.
4. That financial reward for collaborating with industry risks deprioritising preventive health.

Recommendations

  1. Australian Government funding for research should only be allocated after a rigorous and formal peer review process.
  2. That the Australian Government to modifies the ARC National Competitive Grants Program, and any other similar programs, by introducing a two-stage process consisting of a preliminary “expression of interest” round prior to full applications being invited from successful applicants. Both stages should be peer reviewed.
  3. A defined proportion of federal research funding should be set aside for implementation research and evaluation in preventive health.
  4. The Australian Government should ensure that preventive health research is not negatively impacted by a prioritisation of industry collaboration or the potential for commercialisation of research.

FARE supports policy reforms that contribute to a reduction in alcohol-related harms in Australia. Our policy work is informed by the evidence of what is most effective in reducing alcohol-related harms. We support the progression of population-based health measures, which take into consideration the far reaching and complex impacts of alcohol-related harms.

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