Griffith University has joined universities across the country in a new national campaign to tell the stories of everyday Australians whose lives have or will be transformed by Australian university research.

The campaign was launched ahead of university research funding cuts expected to be made in the Australian Government’s mid-year Budget update on Monday. These cuts were foreshadowed last month.

The new campaign – #UniResearchChangesLives – tells just some of the millions of stories of Australians whose wellbeing hinges on university research breakthroughs, cures and advances.

Professor Ned Pankhurst, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, said the campaign was an opportunity for people in the wider community — as well as university communities — to highlight how Australian university research saves or improves lives.

“Our university researchers get up every day and go to work on research that strives to make the lives of Australians better, healthier, safer and easier,” Professor Pankurst said.

“It’s not known nearly enough that Australian university research has delivered some huge advances in the last century – from IVF to a world-first cervical cancer vaccine, cochlear ear implants to parenting programs, and everything in between.”

“That includes medical research for cures and better treatments, programs to help kids catch up on lost years of literacy, safeguarding Australia’s unique Indigenous heritage, and better nursing care protocols that can save lives in hospitals.”

“At Griffith University, our research has led to breakthroughs including human trials for a world-first malaria vaccine, non-toxic solutions for pest control to reduce food shortages in developing countries, improvements in patient care worldwide through new protocols for maintaining intravenous catheters, and a virtual reality program to tackle binge drinking among high school students.”

The campaign begins as Government investment in research and development in Australia is projected to plunge next year to its lowest level as a share of our economy in four decades – setting alarm bells ringing.

The forecast fall – calculated from Government figures in Budget papers – would see Government investment in R&D fall to just half a percent of GDP in 2018-19. That’s lower than in 1978.

Australia’s total investment on R&D by all sectors is only 1.88 per cent of GDP – well below the OECD average of 2.36 per cent.

“Australian universities are the backbone of our nation’s research efforts. Funding cuts will put at risk the next way of cures, breakthroughs, treatments and advances to improve the lives of everyday Australians,” Professor Pankhurst said.

Griffith University research breakthroughs include:

  • the PeCOD Analyzer, a photoelectrochemical apparatus for measuring water’s chemical oxygen demand (COD), prime indicator of water quality, which has domestic and industrial applications
  • Eureka Prize winner research demonstrating how catchment runoff affecting the water quality of hte Great Barrier Reef can be identified and remediated
  • a robotic system for strawberries grading employing artificial intelligence technologies to improve farm production and disease prevention
  • the development of programs that engage and inform the public of the importance of rock art and preserve the legacy of Australia’s ancient rock art
  • innovative wildlife corridors to minimise the impact of roads on native fauna.