Federal Budget: HMRI welcomes Rural, Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure Program

Oct 13 2020

Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement that it is investing $125 million across three projects to improve the health of Australians in rural, remote and regional areas through access to innovative clinical trials.

HMRI was closely involved in developing one of the successful bids. The NSW Ministry of Health has received $30.6 million from the Medical Research Future Fund for the Improving Access to Innovative Healthcare in Rural, Regional and Remote NSW and ACT Project. This funding will be used to increase access to trials for the 1.8 million people in rural regional and remote NSW.

“HMRI wrote and co-ordinated the application on behalf of the Ministry, in collaboration with the NSW Office for Health and Medical Research (OHMR) and other partners, so it is doubly satisfying to see it receive funding,” HMRI Director Professor Tom Walley said.

OHMR director, Dr Tony Penna, said this funding represents a unique opportunity for cross-sectoral support of our rural, regional and remote communities, researchers and health system.

“I would like to extend my thanks to all our partners and particularly to Professor Tom Walley for his significant input to develop a cohesive grant application,” Dr Penna said.

Prof. Walley said clinical trials help people gain access to better treatments.

“This federal Government funding will give more patients more treatment options regardless of where they live.”

”HMRI will work with its researchers to seize the opportunities that this grant will offer to improve health outcomes in rural, regional and remote areas across NSW”.

Almost a third of Australians live in rural, regional and remote areas, and these communities have significantly worse health outcomes and shorter life expectancies. They face barriers in taking part in clinical trials, including distance, cultural difference, geographical isolation and workforce capacity.

The Australian Government said the program removes barriers to participating in clinical trials by:

  • improving facilities, equipment and services in rural, regional and remote Australia
  • providing patients quicker and easier access to medical treatments, drugs, therapies and devices, through participation in clinical trials
  • increasing research capacity, including linkages and enhancements of existing local and national organisations, facilities and workforce, with flow on effects to broader health services.

The other projects are:

  • $18.6 million to the Border Medical Oncology Research Unit for the ReViTALISE Project to bridge the metro-regional trials gap by 2025
  • $75.2 million to the Department of Health, Queensland for the Australian Teletrial Program. This project will enrol more than 5000 new patients in rural, remote and regional areas in trials. Regional Clinical Trial Coordinating centres (RCCC) will be established in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.