Advisory council roundup

ACTA’s Advisory Council meeting was held on Wednesday 19 June in Melbourne

The Advisory Council meeting is an opportunity for ACTA Members to find out about ACTA’s progress and plans and to give input about areas of importance for ACTA to focus on in its role as an advocate, and in creating resources, education and networking opportunities.

Discussions included embedded trials to tele-trials, ACTA’s third year, and plans for the future.

ACTA Advocacy

Key ACTA executives had just returned from a positive meeting with the Federal Minister for Health, Mr Greg Hunt MP, and reported on discussions around the clinical trials environment and its touchpoints with government priorities.

ACTA has a history of meeting with government and advocating for the sector. Part of ACTA’s recent advocacy has included requesting funding for CTNs that are struggling or do not have an Executive Officer. ACTA will continue to pursue this.

ACTA Chair, Prof John Zalcberg talked about challenges and opportunities for investigator-initiated clinical trials. Presenting the concept that ‘high-quality care saves money’ is an ongoing challenge, where even health economists will identify the upfront cost, rather than seeking to understand the long-term benefits and savings.

Previous major initiatives undertaken by ACTA include:

  • Report on activities and achievements of CTNs in Australia 2004-2014.
  • Economic evaluation of iiCT conducted by networks (2017)
  • Clinical Trials: National Tribute and Awards Ceremony including TOTY (2016-)
  • Submissions to the MRFF legislation, MRFF strategy and priorities documents


Prof John Zalcberg discussed key ACTA activity in the past year, including:

  • Defined critical factors for success and growth of Clinical Trial Networks
  • Produced guidance documents to support Clinical Trial Networks operations. These are available on the ACTA website. It was noted that there is value in having common documents, particularly with the introduction of the Clinical Trials Governance Framework from ACSQHC.
  • Strategically mapped the sector to identify areas of high public health burden that could benefit from Clinical Trial Networks establishment. There are some areas that have high BOD (DALYs) that do not have an established Clinical Trial Networks.
  • Commenced Clinical Trial Networks establishment in areas of importance to public health including surgery, primary care, etc.
  • Defined factors that may contribute to more implementable trial results. The aim of this group is to define features of trial design that will assist with effective implementation of results, and measurement of the impact. Demonstrating the impact on the health care system may assist in advocating for the sector, as well as assisting better trial design in the future. It was acknowledged that this was an area of high interest to the sector.
  • Reported on international best practice of embedding research in healthcare systems. Currently Australia has separate pathways for research and routine care, even though there is broad theoretical support and interest, both locally and internationally, for embedding research into routine care.
  • Identified local barriers and enablers to achievements of embedded research. This activity included consultation with health-service providers. It was noted that this was a good time to communicate with health service providers who were currently purchasing Electronic Medical records (EMRs).
  • Reported on existing consumer involvement in Clinical Trial Networks activities
  • Commenced development of an online Consumer Involvement and Engagement kit
  • Development of a prioritisation framework for research
  • Identified local barriers and enablers to achievement of registry-randomised trials
  • Created a handbook on Data Linkage, expanding upon the 4-hour webinar series presented
  • A series of workshops and events have been conducted including:


    • Registry Randomised Trials Colloquium (Adelaide)
    • Adaptive Trials Coding workshops (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane)
    • Introduction to Novel Trial Design (Sydney)
    • Trial Design Clinic (Sydney)
    • Implementability of Trials (Melbourne)
    • Studies Within a Trial webinar
    • Data Linkage Webinar series (4 parts)
    • Hackathon of Novel Trial Design (2 parts)
    • 2018 ACTA Summit

Some of these events are available via the ACTA website and through our youtube channel.

  • Established and maintained special interest groups


    • Registries Special Interest Group
    • Statisticians in Trials special Interest Group (STInG)
    • CTN Executive Officers (SIGNet)

ACTA has continued advocacy activities including:

  • Clinical Trial Collaborative Forum
  • Representation on national committees
  • Response to consultations relevant to clinical trials & registries, including:


    • DOH & ACSQHC Clinical Trials Governance Framework
    • DOH Consultation on the Draft National Clinical Quality Registry Strategy
    • MRFF Strategy & Priorities
    • MRFF Evaluation Framework (Return on Investment)
    • ARDC & CSIRO Clinical trial data sharing
    • AAS & AAHMS Data in health and medical research

Previous major initiatives undertaken by ACTA include:

  • Report on activities and achievements of CTNs in Australia 2004-2014.
  • Economic evaluation of iiCT conducted by networks (2017)
  • Clinical Trials: National Tribute and Awards Ceremony including TOTY (2016-)
  • Submissions to the MRFF legislation, MRFF strategy and priorities documents


Reaching out to all of our Membership

ACTA has 70 full and associate members, and those networks represent more than 10,000 people who fall under the ACTA membership umbrella. Inviting and involving all of them in the activities of ACTA is a continuing priority for the organisation and we welcome suggestions on how to reach out and make contact with all the people in your networks. We will be writing directly to ask Members to cascade information about how individuals can sign up to receive the ACTA newsletter; receive information about courses, webinars, and other events; and join ACTA as an individual member.

ACTA wants to engage better with the sector and ensure the sector knows about the resources and education events that are being produced from ACTA Reference Groups as part of the Activity Plan. ACTA representatives are available to present on ACTA work at any annual scientific meetings held by member organisations. Please feel free to contact us and invite us to attend.

Future activities

ACTA will be seeking ongoing funding to enable the organisation in order to focus on strengthening and supporting Clinical Trials Networks, Clinical Quality Registries and Clinical Trial Coordinating Centres, and not have to expend energy on its own survival.

A number of suggestions came from Members at the Advisory Council including approaching health services to join ACTA, as that’s where a high number of clinician-researchers reside.

Embedded and inclusive trials are a priority of ACTA, as part of our better health through best evidence vision. In order to produce the most accurate results from a clinical trial, trials need to reflect the general population. One way to achieve that inclusivity is through tele-trials. They offer a medium for regional and rural communities to participate in clinical trials remotely—removing the barriers of participation for these groups. It was agreed that this is certainly an area of interest for ACTA ’s members and ACTA will look to incorporate tele-trials into our remit.

Future activities for ACTA to consider included expanding its focus on the registries sector. While it was noted that ACTA had undertaken limited work in the registries sector to date, ACTA will submit to the recently opened Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) consultation on registries. ACTA’s submission will include that registries collect observational data that contributes to quality healthcare and provide the background for clinical trial questions.

Although ACTA doesn’t currently act as a recruitment network for clinical trials, it was identified that this may be a consideration for the future.

Future meetings

We thank everyone who was able to attend this meeting. After feedback, ACTA will commit to ensuring that its next Advisory Council Meeting will be held with more notice for our members.

If you would like to contact us about the meeting, or with any ideas you have, please send us an email at