Genomics Australia to guide future of genomic health and medicine over coming decade

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

Through our 10-year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) plan, the Morrison Government is committed to helping Australians live longer and better lives by ensuring that our health system can embrace and benefit from one of the most promising emerging medical disciplines – genomics.

To further this agenda, our Government is investing $28.1 million to establish a new agency, Genomics Australia, to support the integration of genomic medicine as a standard of healthcare in Australia.

Genomic health technologies have the potential to reshape clinical practice and change the way we prevent, diagnose, treat and monitor illness throughout each person’s life.

Genomics Australia will be chaired by Professor Kathryn North AC.

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.

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.

A Taskforce in the Department of Health, with expert guidance from Professor Kathryn North, will design and establish Genomics Australia. Genomics Australia will become a legislated corporate Commonwealth entity under the Health portfolio from 1 January 2024.

Genomics Australia will work with consumers, health professionals, researchers, and industry. Consultation 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.

Genomics Australia, once established, will also advise the Government on operation of the $500 million 10-year genomics mission.

State and territory governments will also be invited to partner with the Government on this initiative to ensure we start from a nationally cohesive foundation.

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.

Zero Childhood Cancer, supported by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), is transforming care for children and young people with cancer in Australia.

Zero is a world-leading personalised medicine program, with over 640 Australian children currently registered and being treated under the program – one of them was Ellie. (Ellie’s Story | Sarcoma | Zero Childhood Cancer)

Ellie was diagnosed with infantile fibrosarcoma, a type of soft tissue sarcoma at 11 months.

The team at Zero found a genetic mutation likely to be driving its growth and identified a drug in the USA designed to specifically target that genetic mutation and provided drug treatment immediately – Ellie is now a thriving four-year-old.

Other Genomic programs that continue to deliver successful outcomes for Australians include:

  1. TRACEBACK project
  2. Acute Care Genomics
  3. Mackenzie’s Mission

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.

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.

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