Department of Health’s management of financial assistance under the Medical Research Future Fund

Federal government departments Government grants Government accountability Medical technology Research management Innovation Australia

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRRF) was established in 2015 under the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015 (MRFF Act) ‘to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians’.

MRFF is intended to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians and ‘ensure that a coherent and consistent approach is adopted in the funding of medical research and medical innovation’. The Australian Government has committed to spend $5.1 billion over 10 years through 20 initiatives on the program. This audit will provide assurance to the Australian Parliament and the public about how the MRFF legislation, governance, strategies and priorities guide selection of medical research and medical innovation.

The audit objective was to assess whether Health is effectively managing financial assistance under MRFF.

To form a conclusion against this objective, the following high-level criteria were applied:

  • Are MRFF governance arrangements effective?
  • Are MRFF grants consistent with the requirements of relevant legislation and policy, including the MRFF Act?
  • Has Health effectively reported on the performance of the MRFF and evaluated the effectiveness of MRFF financial assistance?

Main conclusion:

  • Health’s governance arrangements for the management of MRFF are largely effective. Clear governance roles, responsibilities and coordinating structures have been established and Health has implemented largely effective arrangements with its implementation partners to administer MRFF. Health has effectively supported consultations by the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) and expert advisory panels, but it has not actively consulted with state and territory governments on the implementation of the program. The identification and documentation of the management of issues and risks should be improved.


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Auditor-General Report No.3 2021–22