Reforms to the Australian Research Council

Posted: 7 September

Following on from the controversy surrounding ARC grants last year, the new Government has acted on its election promises to change the way the ARC operates.

Education Minister Jason Clare has today announced a review of the ARC, to be led by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil, and including Professor Mark Hutchinson, director of the Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide, and Professor Susan Dodds, DVC (Research and Industry Engagement) at La Trobe University. The review will report to the Minister by March next year.

The Minister has also issued a new Letter of Expectations to the ARC CEO, Ms Judi Zielke PSM. It asks the CEO to develop a new National Interest Test that better aligns with the objectives of different programs and seeks a streamlining of ARC grant applications. ‘As I have stated publicly, it is important that all future grants rounds are delivered on time, to a pre-determined timeframe. In considering improvements to the grants process, I ask that the ARC identify ways to minimise administrative burden on researchers. I also ask that the ARC advise me of any regulatory or legislative changes required to ensure grants rounds are delivered on time and to a transparent, predetermined timeframe.’

The next ERA and Impact assessment, scheduled to commence next year will be deferred and a new program implemented. ‘In light of the sector’s concerns about workload, I ask that you discontinue preparations for the 2023 ERA round and commence work to develop a transition plan, in consultation with the sector and my Department, to establish a modern data driven approach informed by expert review. In addition, I ask you to continue your work with my Department on developing research engagement and impact indicators to inform the Engagement and Impact assessments.’

Ms Zielke has welcomed the new statement of expectations. She is consulting on the National Interest Test and will shortly establish a working group to start on the replacement for ERA.

The Statement of Expectations is available here.

Research Australia welcomes the announcements made today. Research funded by the ARC is critical to health and medical research, and we believe these proposed reforms are a step in the right direction, and broadly align with the objectives of the National Strategy for Health and Medical research announced by the Minister for Health last December.

Research Australia will be closely monitoring the ARC reform process. If you have views on the National Interest Test, a new approach to impact assessment or ways in which the ARC can minimise administrative burden on researchers, please reach out to Greg Mullins, Head of Policy at


Current Consultations

Research Australia closely monitors Government policy announcements and consultations that affect our sector. Below are two current consultations that are particularly relevant. For a full list of currently consultations, click here.

Data Availability – Draft Code

The National Data Commissioner is responsible for implementing the Data Availability and Transparency Act, which was passed earlier this year. The Act seeks to improve access to Commonwealth Government data sets, including for research purposes. The Commissioner is currently consulting on a draft Code of Conduct which will provide further guidance on how to apply the data sharing principles, privacy protections, the public interest test and ethics, as well as data sharing agreements.

The code and supporting materials can be viewed at Consultation on the Data Code. Feedback is invited by 14 September. To contribute to Research Australia’s submission please contact Greg Mullins, Head of Policy, at

List of Critical Technologies

The Department of Industry, Science and Resources is consulting on the list of current and emerging technologies that are critical for Australia today or could become critical within the next 10 years.

The Australian Government is backing critical and emerging technologies to:

  • give Australia a clear competitive advantage
  • accelerate productivity growth
  • create well-paying jobs.

The 2022 List will build on the 2021 list, which featured 63 technologies including biotechnology, gene technology and vaccines and was developed in consultation with Research Australia and others.

The Critical Technologies Hub is seeking feedback on the list and how it should be updated. More information is available in the consultation paper, and you can register for consultation sessions.

MRFF Funding

There are several MRFF funding opportunities currently open. For more information visit Research Australia’s MRFF Funding Opportunities page here.

CSIRO Pandemic Preparedness Report

In a report released today, the CSIRO has identified the most likely sources of future pandemics and how we can be better prepared. It has identified six areas of science and technology critical to our response and made 20 recommendations. The Report is available here.


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