Health - Capability Statement

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Build healthy and resilient communities throughout Australia by developing treatments, solutions and preventative strategies to improve physical and mental well-being and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Australia’s health care system.

This priority is focussed mainly on health services ​and public health research.


Key facts for the Health Priority

  • It is estimated that approximately $460 million of the $2.65 billion supporting national priorities is allocated directly to the Health Priority area.*
  • In terms of citation impact, an indicator of research quality, Australian research on this Priority ranks:
    • 7th out of 11 when compared against selected Asia Pacific countries **
    • 14th out of 14 when compared to selected European countries, Canada and New Zealand.***
  • 33 per cent of Australian publications are produced with an international co-author.


*  Data on two key initiatives – university research block grants and the R&D taxincentive – are not collected in a way that supports analysis against priorities.
** Selected Asia Pacific countries: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
*** Selected European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

The United States was not included for the Health Priority due to database constraints on publication numbers.

Current research strengths

The facts above relate to the focus of the Practical Research Challenges within this Priority area which is predominantly on health services. Overall, Australian health research has a strong record in health and medical research, particularly in relation to emergent epidemics and novel pathogens. Australia is well recognised as a global hub of excellence in influenza research.


Practical challenges

  1. Better models of health care and services that improve outcomes, reduce disparities for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, increase efficciency and provide greater value for a given expenditure.
  2. Improved prediction, identification, tracking, prevention and management of emerging local and regional health threats.
  3. Better health outcomes for Indigenous people, with strategies for both urban and regional communities.
  4. Effective technologies for individuals to manage their own health care, for example, using mobile apps, remote monitoring and online access to therapies.


Action within this Priority will drive strategic coordination of investments in Australia to better inform health system decisions and improve health outcomes alongside its current support for health and medical research. It will assist Australia to overcome current research weaknesses and take advantage of strengths by:

  • promoting greater integration and co-investment between the health system and industry
  • encouraging stronger partnerships between researchers, consumers, practitioners, health services leaders, decision makers and all levels of government
  • improving access to and links between datasets as well as better coordination of data infrastructure and digital technologies
  • prioritising research to develop strategies to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • strengthening Australia’s research capability through international collaboration, academic leadership and support for researchers across the age spectrum starting with early-to-mid career.

International Citation Comparison, 2010 to 2014

Australian health research is internationally recognised as high quality, though historically it has been concentrated in biomedical and clinical sciences rather than health services – the main focus of the Health Science and Research Priority.

For this Priority, each circle represents one of the comparator countries, grouped into region by colour: circle size represents number of publications, while circle placement indicates the country’s weighted citations relative to Australia. Data are from Thomson Reuters InCites, with the Priority identified by a keyword search.

Australian Government Expenditure on Science and Research Priorities

The Australian Government invests $9.7 billion in science, research and innovation. Approximately $2.65 billion of this investment can be attributed to research aligned to the nine Science and Research priorities. Data on university block grants and the R&D tax incentive – two key initiatives that have critical roles in supporting strategic, mission-directed research - are not collected in a way that supports analysis against the priorities.

Sources: 2015-16 Science, Research and Innovation Budget Tables; Research Strategies Australia, Science and Research Priorities and Practical Challenges, May 2015.

Australia’s Science and Research Priorities

Australia’s Science and Research Priorities identify areas that are of immediate and critical importance to the nation and its place in the world. They help align our research to industry and will make sure that we capitalise on our comparative advantages and address challenges.

The Australian Government will use the Priorities to guide a proportion of its research investment to areas of critical need and national importance. This capability snapshot is a vital step to make sure that we get this strategic investment right – it is about understanding what we spend now, what we are good at and where we need to improve.

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