Brand new health agency aims to promote genomic medicine

By Melissa Coade

March 22, 2022

Greg Hunt
Federal health minister Greg Hunt. (AAP Image/Luis Ascui)

Genomics Australia will be established to ensure genomic medicine meets national healthcare standards, with a view to supporting longer, better lives.

The government announced $28.1 million to set up the new agency, which will be chaired by paediatric physician, neurologist, and clinical geneticist Professor Kathryn North. 

North’s expert guidance will be relied on to design the new agency. A Department of Health taskforce will establish it after it has become a legislated corporate commonwealth entity — from 2024.

Health minister Greg Hunt issued a statement at the weekend explaining genomic health technologies had the potential to ‘reshape clinical practice’ and the way doctors prevent, diagnose and monitor patients’ illnesses.  

“Genomics Australia’s vision is to ensure that Australia is a world leader in the research, development, and use of genomic medicine to save lives and protect lives,” Hunt said.

“Its mission will be to develop the world’s leading genomic medicine sector here in Australia, both to create life-saving health outcomes and a high-tech industry of the future.”

Genomics Australia will consult with key community stakeholders, including health professionals, consumers, researchers and industry representatives. The task force will also ensure strong engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts, disability and culturally and linguistically diverse groups to ensure their needs are actively included, Hunt added.

“This will enable all Australians to access genomic testing and related healthcare services when necessary, providing faster and more accurate diagnoses and the identification of more precise and tailored treatments that can substantially improve health outcomes and save lives. 

“Researchers and industry will also benefit from the Genomics Australia’s leadership in developing national and international collaborations and partnerships that will drive future investments in the health and medical research sector within Australia,” he said. 

The work of the new agency will support the efforts of a medical research future fund (MRFF) plan, and provide the government advice on how to operate its genomics mission that has been allocated $500 million over a decade.

“Genomic medicine uses a person’s genetic and genomic information for improved diagnostic and therapeutic purposes – it is the foundation of personalised medicine, and Australians are already starting to benefit from this emerging field of medicine,” the health minister said.

“Genomics Australia will provide the coordination and strategic approach required to harness this powerful new discipline, support whole-of-health system change and accelerate the translation of genomic technologies into clinical practice and public health services. 

“It will focus on ensuring genomics-led medicine and its benefits are delivered in an efficient, effective, ethical, and equitable way for all Australians,” he said.

Hunt added state and territory governments will be invited to partner with the federal government setting up the new agency to achieve a ‘nationally cohesive foundation’.


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