Unis Aus’s powerful case for research funding

Universities Australia defends research in ways budget-cutters will not want to dispute

This morning Education Minister Dan Tehan launches a new series in UAs “university-research changes lives” campaign.

It follows last December’s burst of two-minute made-for-social-media vids in which cervical cancer vaccine’s Ian Frazer (UoQ), RMIT brain scientist Richard Williams and Monash U family law, family violence academic Becky Batagol, talked about their work, with equal billing for people they had helped, (CMM December 14).

The new series uses the same format and is about the work of:

* Mark Hutchinson (Uni Adelaide) who can create an objective measure of pain with a blood test. “This gives pain patients a voice, which can potentially lead to changes in clinical practise,” he says.

* Felicity Baker (Uni Melbourne) who uses music therapy to stimulate dementia sufferers. “Treating dementia is expensive, if music can have the same impact as other forms of treatment then it’s going to be a much more cost-effective approach.”

* Robyn Wheldall (Macquarie U) who works on ways to help kids who struggle with learning to read. “There is nothing more important than being able to read, it’s a basic human right.”

Powerful stuff, but not a patch on people helped, who appear in the videos. Ordinary people dealing with awful problems in ways that the average Australian voter will recognise and want fixed.

The series is simply produced but politically potent. Very potent, as Mr Tehan obviously understands.


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