Yesterday in Melbourne and Sydney, rallies were held to protest against the possible $400m (20%) reduction in the National Health and Medical Research budget. Thousands gathered outside Parliament house in Melbourne, scientists, students and professors stood alongside those who were the recipients of the medical research scientists had conducted.
From a student at the rally:
I am a student at La Trobe University studying double science. The budget cuts in medical research threaten my future job posibilities and those of my friends and colleagues…Australian medical research provides treatments and cures for millions of people around the world and govement funded research often funds research that big pharma companies would not fund as it does not have a high return, such as treatments and cures for third world diseases like malaria.
And from a neuroscience researcher at the rally:
I am an early career researcher whose salary is funded by the NHMRC. I will be conducting brain imaging research to investigate the neurobiological basis of psychosis and schizophrenia.
The changes will have a direct impact on the funding available to conduct medical research. This will have a direct effect on the ability for me to obtain competitive research grants (which are already very competitive with a success rate of about 15-20%) and ultimately to conduct research.
>What was the atmosphere like?
It was a static rally involving some speakers talking about the importance of medical research, a lot of chanting (no cuts to research! etc etc), a lot of cheering and clapping. Many people came down in their white lab coats which was great to see. There were a lot of people holding banners with various slogans (I didn’t have one unfortunately). There were students to Professors there, so it wasn’t just a ‘young’ rally. The atmosphere was alive, you could tell people there felt very passionate about the proposed cuts, not only because of their jobs being at stake but because people are passionate about their area of research and ultimately want to understand and provide better treatments for patients.
A rally is going to be held in Perth. So get out their and communicate about these expected budget changes!
George also blogs as PopSciGuy