A draft Statement on Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation in Health and Medical Research (the Statement) has been released for public consultation.

A joint initiative of NHMRC and the Department of Health and Aged Care (the Department) (responsible for implementation of the Medical Research Future Fund, MRFF). The statement seeks to improve health outcomes by:

  • improving knowledge of research gaps related to historical underrepresentation of sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation in various research fields and topics
  • improving consideration of sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation throughout the design, conduct, analysis, reporting, translation and implementation of all research
  • promoting increased inclusion of cisgender and trans women and men, non-binary people, people with innate variations of sex characteristics and people with diverse sexual orientations in research, particularly where they have been historically underrepresented or excluded
  • promoting effective, sensitive and safe involvement of people with lived experience in all stages of research projects
  • encouraging more effective partnerships between consumers, researchers, clinicians, and other research stakeholders.

These practices aim to ensure that health and medical research produces an evidence-base that is relevant to all people in Australia.

The draft Statement aligns with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation (2020 Standard) to promote the standardised collection and dissemination of statistical data.

Public consultation

A Draft Statement has been released for public consultation. The consultation will remain open until 15 December 2023 and can be accessed at the Department of Health and Aged Care Consultation Hub.

We welcome feedback from all stakeholders, including those from research, industry, consumers, health services and philanthropy. The diverse perspectives, experiences and knowledge of cisgender and trans women and men, non-binary people, people with innate variations of sex characteristics and people with diverse sexual orientations are valued, respected, and will contribute to the final Statement.

On 22 March 2023, a workshop was held to better understand the issues the Statement should address. The workshop included voices from a range of researchers, biostatisticians, consumers, representatives and stakeholders with experience and expertise in sex and gender matters related to health and medical research. Presentations from both The George Institute for Global Health and LGBTIQ+ Health Australia were facilitated to support open discussion among attendees.

To stay informed on this work, including updates on the public consultation process, subscribe to NHMRC’s newsletter, Tracker and the MRFF’s newsletter.