Government's proposed cuts to medical research funding

Controversy around proposed cuts to medical research funding has dominated the Australian media over the last several days.

When surveyed in 2010, 52% of Philanthropy Australia’s Members reported that they granted in the field of health and medical research. This demonstrates that trusts, foundations, funds and individuals within the philanthropic sector view this area as one in need of significant monetary support at this time.

In the Winter 2010 issue of Philanthropy Australia’s journal Australian Philanthropy, Daniel Rechtman, the Chairman of the CASS Foundation, explained that “in 2001, when the CASS Foundation was established as a medium-sized philanthropic organisation with the aim of funding education and medicine/science research, the Directors were told that the majority of funding for medical and scientific research came from government and industry, and that philanthropy contributed only a small amount”. In this same issue, Dr Noel Chambers of Research Australia shared the statistic that nearly three quarters of Australians (73 per cent) give less than $100 per annum in donations to medical research organisations.

These facts tell us that while medical research remains a priority funding area for formalised philanthropic giving, the sums involved are dwarfed by the amounts currently provided to the field by government. Coupled with a low rate of individual charitable giving to the field by the Australian public, this situation means that the proposed cuts in government funding to medical research would place significant stress on the philanthropic sector as it attempts to compensate for the reduction of government support.

From Research Australia’s recent email update:

Update: health and medical research funding cuts

  •   Research Australia is currently undertaking a public opinion poll to identify community sensitivity to proposed funding cuts. Preliminary results will be available shortly.
  •   Please view our video interview of the Hon Michael Wooldridge, former Commonwealth Minister for Health 1996-2001, discussing the impact of cuts to research funding.
  •   As of today, 13,828 people have registered on our iPetition.
  •   Media speculation suggests government may be rethinking cuts to funding. Until the Budget is handed down, there is no certainty, and we will continue to highlight the importance of continual funding to health research.

Research Australia Philanthropy will be holding their 2011 conference on 29-30 August in Sydney - click here for more details.

Apr. 20, 2011

 Tags: what's new, topical issues, news, government, general, finance

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