Health Inequalities Research Collaboration (HIRC)

The Health Inequalities Research Collaboration (HIRC) has contributed to the Australian Government's broader commitment to building a strong evidence base for the development and implementation of effective health policies, including those aimed at reducing health inequalities.

Page last updated: 14 August 2006

The HIRC contributed to building a strong evidence base aimed at reducing health inequalities in the Australian community.

HIRC History

Australian and international research has shown that people who experience social and economic disadvantage tend to be sicker and die younger than others. Terms like 'health inequalities' or 'health inequities' are often used to describe these trends.

Other factors affecting health inequalities include complex biological, behavioural, cultural and geographic factors.


In September 1998, the Department of Health and Family Services (now the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing) funded the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) to undertake a feasibility study for a National Research and Development Collaboration on Health and Socio-Economic Status.

In July 1999, the Department appointed the HIRC Board for a period of two years. The HIRC Board's term of office officially ended in December 2001 and in November 2002 the Board was officially reconvened as a Ministerial Advisory Committee with a term of office until June 30, 2004.

Following a review of the HIRC by Origin Consulting during 2004, a decision was made to disband HIRC and to improve the focus on preventable morbidity and mortality by coordinating activity through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) research priorities.


The goal of the collaboration was to enhance Australia's knowledge on the causes of and effective responses to health inequalities, and to promote the application of this evidence to reduce health inequalities in Australia.

The Ministerial Advisory Committee of the HIRC expressed a view that authentic interest in health inequalities in Australia should address Indigenous health. Acting on this advice the HIRC fostered collaborations with organisations engaged in Indigenous health research.

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HIRC Research

Three research networks were established under HIRC auspices:
  • Children, Youth and Families Network
  • Sustainable Communities Network
  • Primary Health Care Network
Rural health and the health of Indigenous Australians were considered by all three networks.