MFR 7 - Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia

Matter for Review

7.  "Examine the institutional arrangements and governance of the health and medical research sector, including strategies to enhance community and consumer participation. This will include comparison of the NHMRC to relevant international jurisdictions."


National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (NHMRC Act)

The NHMRC was first constituted in September 1936. 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.
  • More information is available in the NHMRC Strategic Plan for 2010 – 2012

National Health and Medical Research Council

NHMRC is Australia's peak body for supporting health and medical research; for developing health advice for the Australian community, health professionals and governments; and for providing advice on ethical behaviour in health care and in the conduct of health and medical research.

NHMRC Committees

The Council and Principal Committees of the NHMRC are established under Section 20 and 35 of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (the NHMRC Act) respectively. Under the NHMRC Act the Minister must establish Principal Committees called the Research Committee and the Australian Health Ethics Committee. The Minister may also establish such other Principal Committees the Minister thinks are necessary to assist Council to carry out any of its functions.

Principal Committees - are appointed under section 41 (1) of the NHMRC Act.  For the 2009-12 triennium the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, has deemed that the NHMRC will require the following six Principal Committees in addition to Council:

  • AHEC - Australian Health Ethics Committee
  • Research Committee
  • Licensing Committee
  • HGAC - Human Genetics Advisory Committee
  • HCC - Health Care Committee
  • PCHC - Prevention and Community Health Committee

Expert Advisory Committees - NHMRC also retains expert advisory committees to advise on particular issues. To date, NHMRC has four Expert Committees for the 2009-12 Triennium:

  • ATSIHAC - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advisory Committee
  • TSEAC - Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee
  • WQAC - Water Quality Advisory Committee
  • CCG - Consumer Consultative Group

Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research (the Statement on Participation)

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia Inc (CHF) and the NHMRC worked in partnership with consumers and researchers to develop the Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research.  Revisions to this ‘Statement’ are currently in progress.

The following documents may be downloaded from the link below:

Community Observers

NHMRC utilises Community Observers to provide independent advice on the conduct of grant application assessment processes, with a view to achieving continuous improvement of the process and ensure all applicants receive equitable treatment.