NHMRC's mission and functions


The mission statement of the NHMRC is Building a healthy Australia.

Strategic Direction

The themes of investment, translation and integrity represent NHMRC’s strategy for health and medical research. As set out in the NHMRC corporate Plan 2018-2019 NHMRC will:

  • create knowledge and build research capability through investment in the highest quality health and medical research and the best researchers
  • drive the translation of health and medical research into clinical practice, policy and health systems and the effective commercialisation of research discoveries, supporting the pursuit of an Australian health system that is research-led, evidence-based, efficient and sustainable, and
  • maintain a strong integrity framework for research and guideline development, underpinning rigorous and ethical research and relevant and accurate guidelines, and promoting community trust.


Under the NHMRC Act, the CEO is directly responsible to the Minister for Health  the Hon Greg Hunt MP, for setting the major objectives for NHMRC, identifying new and emerging health issues and developing strategies to address these issues as they arise.

With the support of Council, the CEO develops the NHMRC Corporate Plan, which includes NHMRC's strategic direction.

Membership of Council and committees

The NHMRC Council is established under the NHMRC Act to advise the CEO and perform functions conferred on it.

The functions of the Council are:

  • to provide advice to the CEO in relation to the performance of his or her functions;
  • any other functions conferred on the Council in writing by the Minister after consulting the CEO; and
  • any other functions conferred on the Council by the NHMRC Act, the regulations or any other law.

NHMRC has a number of Principal Committees that assist Council to carry out any of its functions.

Legislative basis of the NHMRC

The current legislative basis of the Council is the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (NHMRC Act). The NHMRC is responsible to the Commonwealth Minister for Health.

NHMRC's functions come from the statutory obligations conferred by the NHMRC Act. The Act provides for the NHMRC to pursue activities designed to:

  • raise the standard of individual and public health throughout Australia;
  • foster the development of consistent health standards between the various States and Territories;
  • foster medical research and training and public health research and training throughout Australia ; and
  • foster consideration of ethical issues relating to health.

Other legislation, governance and administrative structure

NHMRC became an independent statutory agency within the Health and Ageing portfolio on 1 July 2006. This change brought with it an amended NHMRC Act that defines the NHMRC as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Council and committees, and the staff of NHMRC.

NHMRC also has responsibilities under the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 including the development and implementation of a program for reviewing and enhancing relevant guidelines, and the provision of administrative improvements in the licensing process.

Other than its functions as set out in the NHMRC Act, as a non-corporate Commonwealth entity, NHMRC is also bound by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), the Public Service Act 1999, and other legislation and regulations as determined by the Public Service Commission.

NHMRC corporate reporting

The NHMRC Act requires the CEO to develop a corporate plan setting out:

  • the CEO’s assessment of the major national health issues that are likely to arise during the period
  • the manner in which the CEO proposes to perform his or her functions in dealing with those issues during the period
  • a national strategy for medical and public health research.

The corporate plan must also meet the requirements for corporate plans set out in the PGPA Act.

As a Commonwealth entity, NHMRC must also prepare an annual report for the Minister of Health to table in Parliament.