HUNTER delegates joined a day of national action yesterday to protest against proposed cuts to Australia’s health and medical research budget.
The region’s researchers say public health care will suffer and jobs will go if the federal government reduces finance to the National Health and Medical Research Council.
The government is tipped to make a $400million cut to council funding in the May budget.
Rally for Research protests were held yesterday in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra.
Another is planned in Perth tomorrow.
University of Newcastle health faculty deputy head John Rostas, responsible for research and research training, was among about 20 Hunter representatives at the Sydney protest.
‘‘We need to demonstrate that there’s a concern about the proposed levels of funding cuts,’’ Professor Rostas said.
‘‘It’s an area where Australia really needs more investment.
‘‘We’re facing a potential explosion in health-care costs with the ageing population.
‘‘We know over the next 20 to 30 years there’s going to be a huge demand there.
‘‘If we don’t do the research now we won’t have the ability to find ways of reducing the costs.’’
Job losses in the sector are of particular concern in the Hunter, as the university, Hunter New England Local Health Network and Hunter Medical Research Institute are some of the region’s biggest employers.
Professor Rostas said researchers working with limited funding, those at an early stage in their career and people employed in support roles would be affected.
The Hunter’s growing profile as a research and technology region would also suffer, he said.
The success of a Hunter project was also highlighted at yesterday’s Sydney rally as a case for retaining research funding.
A $1million stroke research project was saving the national health-care budget about $31million a year, the crowd heard.