Federal Government invests $6.1 million to improve the health of Victorians

Federal Minister for Health, the Honorable Greg Hunt today announced further funding commitment of $6.1M to Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre.

The funding, from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), will support a range of research and data initiatives to improve health such as a lifesaving project aimed at the early detection and treatment of Victorian kids with cancer.

The funding, through the MRFF, is also linked to a significant ongoing investment in the Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (AHRTCs) and Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH).

These leading Centres are accredited by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to conduct rapid transformational research that delivers real solutions to health service problems, with direct patient benefit.

The purpose of Monash Partners, established in 2011, is to connect clinicians, researchers and the community to innovate for better health - partners include Alfred Health, Monash Health, Monash University, Peninsula Health, Eastern Health, Cabrini Health, Epworth HealthCare, Primary Health Networks (Eastern Melbourne, Southeastern Melbourne and Gippsland), Burnet Institute, Hudson Institute, and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

This three years of much-needed funding builds on $2.2M awarded to Monash Partners in 2017. It will continue to support the world leading research and collaborative projects that underpin Victoria’s and Australia’s already high-quality healthcare system.

Executive Director of Monash Partners, Professor Helena Teede, said the funding provided stability over three-years to bolster efforts to work with healthcare providers, researchers and community to innovate for better health.

“In Australia, the community funds both healthcare and research and we have a right to expect these will be integrated to provide the best healthcare and health outcomes for Australians,” Professor Teede said.

“Collaboration can provide groundbreaking healthcare improvement. Monash Partners is ideally placed to deliver the collaboration and community engagement for through research, innovation and translation of best evidence into practice.

“This important funding enables Monash Partners’ commitment to collaboratively improve high quality healthcare across our communities in Victoria, Australia and internationally, supported by world-leading research.”

Monash Partners funding will support national programs in priority areas that are important to the community. These include applying health data to improve the health of our community, as well as optimising outcomes in cancer, pregnancy, child health, infections, heart disease, and many more important areas of health.

One example is a program of child health research led by Monash University’s and Monash Health’s Professor Jim Buttery, in collaboration with Victorian GP primary health networks and POLAR GP to use data to detect cancer in children earlier.

About 250 children aged 0-14 years old are diagnosed with leukaemia in Australia every year. Children with cancer often present to their GP for a series of issues over a short period of time – often infections and feeling generally unwell. The sooner cancer is considered, tested and treated especially in the case of cancers like leukaemia, the better their chances of survival.

The study team will look into the data from hundreds of GP practices to identify children who have experienced a series of symptoms, and then link this into the databases of participating Children’s Hospitals to determine which of these children were diagnosed with cancer.

The aim will be to use machine learning to identify patterns to allow flags for GPs to consider a cancer diagnosis as early as possible to get them fast tracked into a potential diagnosis and treatment.