This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Migraine research applications for NHMRC or MRFF funding'.

Ms Raphaella Kathryn Crosby 
Via email:  
Dear Ms Crosby 
I refer to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), which was partially 
transferred to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) on 11 November 2021 
from the Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) under section 16 of the 
FOI Act, seeking:  
A list of all applications for NHMRC funding over the past 5 years for migraine, including 
whether they were successful or unsuccessful.
With an accompanying note that stated, ‘We only need brief detail of what the studies were 
about, as per the publicly available lists of successful grants . 
I am an officer authorised under subsection 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in relation to 
FOI requests.  
Timeframe for processing your request 
The FOI request was received by the Department via email on 26 October 2021. As part of your 
request specified that you sought information about NHMRC funding, it was partially transferred 
to NHMRC on 11 November 2021 under section 16 of the FOI Act. The statutory timeframe for 
processing a request is 30 days, starting from the day after the day on which your application 
was received. Accordingly, the due date for a decision on your request is 25 November 2021. 
In making my decision, I have had regard to the following: 
  the terms of your request 
  the content of the documents to which you have sought access 
  advice from NHMRC officers with responsibility for the matters relating to the documents 
to which you sought access 
  the relevant provisions of the FOI Act (accessed via: 
  the 
section 93A of the FOI Act (accessed via:

NHMRC conducted a search of its grants management databases for any grant applications 
received in the five year period (2016 2020 inclusive), using key search terms relating to 
 research . The key search terms used were ['head ache(s)', 'headache(s)' and 
This search identified 61 applications falling within the scope of your request, with 
8 of these being successful applications (i.e. the proposed research was funded) and 53 being 
unsuccessful applications (i.e. the proposed research was not funded based on competitive 
selection criteria).  

I have decided to grant access to some documents identified in response to your request, and to 
refuse access to a number of documents on the grounds that they fall within an exemption(s). 
My reasoning for this is provided below. 
Successful applications for NHMRC funding over the past 5 years for  migraine   
I grant full access to the list of successful applications for NHMRC funding from 2016 2020 
identified using the key search terms relating to 
 research    tabulated at Attachment A.  
On the basis that you stated you only wanted brief details on the applications, this information, 
which is publically available1, includes brief details about what the funded research is about (see 
), as well as the names of the Administering Institutions2, the 
relevant researchers and the amount of funding awarded. 
Other publically available information on the outcomes of NHMRC funding rounds is also 
available via our website.
Unsuccessful applications for NHMRC funding over the past 5 years for  migraine   
I have decided not to release information about the 53 applications for NHMRC funding that 
were unsuccessful, based on the following sections of the FOI Act: 
  Section 45: exempts disclosure where information, in this case application material, has 
been obtained in confidence (by NHMRC) and its disclosure could found an action for 
breach of confidence 
  Section 47E: exempts conditionally, information, the release of which would, or could 
reasonably be expected to, prejudice or have a substantial adverse effect on agency 
operations, and such disclosure would be contrary to the public interest 
  Section 47G: exempts conditionally, information, the release of which would, or could 
reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on the lawful business and 
professional affairs of a person (here individual researchers); and lawful business, 
commercial and financial affairs of an organisation (here relevant research organisations) 
and such disclosure would be contrary to the public interest.  
My detailed reasons in relation to these exemptions is provided below. 
Documents containing material obtained in confidence (s45) 
Section 45 of the FOI Act exempts documents where information has been obtained in 
confidence, such that disclosure would found an action for breach of confidence. To release 
information that was submitted with the understanding of mutual confidentially has the potential 
to destroy the credibility and competitiveness of NHMRC processes. The information contained 
in unsuccessful grant applications is recognised by both parties as being confidential. 
Confidentiality over the application process is reflected in the grant guidelines. In my view, 
disclosure of this information could found an action by the relevant researcher for a breach of 
The following two conditional exemptions are subject to a public interest test. 
I have considered the public interest factors for and against disclosure. While there may be 
some public interest in releasing details of unsuccessful grant applications, I am satisfied that, on 
balance, disclosure of these details would be contrary to the public interest. This is explained 
further below in relation to each exemption. 
Public interest conditional exemptions - certain operations of agencies (s47E) 
Reporting & MREA Section 

Subsection 47E(d) of the FOI Act conditionally exempts documents where disclosure would, 
or could reasonably be expected to, prejudice or have a substantial adverse effect on agency 
activities, and in particular on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency. 
As noted above, to release information that was submitted with the understanding of mutual 
confidentially has the potential to destroy or diminish the credibility and competitiveness of 
NHMRC peer review, assessment and funding outcomes. The proper and efficient conduct of the 
in the robustness and integrity of the 
granting process.  
A lack of confidence in NHMRC processes would reasonably be expected to dissuade future 
grant applicants from applying, and inhibit the willingness of applicants to provide 
comprehensive applications that include sensitive information or novel concepts. This is highly 
likely to result in non-competitive applications and a reduced ability to fund projects that will 
achieve desired research outcomes. Accordingly, such an impact would in my view, be contrary 
to the public interest in protecting the process by which decisions are made to support high 
quality health and medical research in Australia. 
Public interest conditional exemption - Business Information (s47G) 
Under subsection 47G(1) of the FOI Act, a document is conditionally exempt if: 
  it discloses information (business information) concerning a person in respect of his or 
her business or professional affairs, or concerning the business or professional affairs of 
an organisation; and 
  the disclosure of the information would, or could reasonably be expected to affect the 
person adversely in respect of his or her lawful business or professional affairs or that 
organisation in respect of its lawful business, commercial or financial affairs (subsection 
47G(1)(a)); and 
  such disclosure would be contrary to the public interest. 
Disclosure of unsuccessful grant application information, which is not otherwise publically 
available, could reasonably be expected to adversely affect the business and professional 
advantage to the organisation and individual researchers if the material is accessed by others. It 
could also prejudice continuing work and unreasonably expose the organisation and individual 
researchers to disadvantage in not gaining future funding. 
The adverse effects on the activities of the organisation and researcher could extend to the 
preparation and submission of future grant applications to NHMRC, whereby they do not include 
what in their view is sensitive information, which in turn results in a non-competitive application 
of what could be considered fundable. In my view, such an impact would be contrary to the 
public interest on the grounds that the best applications may not be brought forward. This 
would undermine future positive health outcomes for the Australian community. 
I have decided not to impose changes for processing this FOI request. 
Your review rights 
If you are dissatisfied with my decision, you may apply for internal review or Information 
Commissioner review of the decision.  
Internal review  
Under section 54 of the FOI Act, you may apply in writing to NHMRC for an internal review of 
my decision. The internal review application must be made within 30 days of the date of this 
letter. Where possible, please attach reasons why you believe review of the decision is 
necessary. The internal review will be carried out by another officer within 30 days.  

Information Commissioner review  
Under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may apply to the Australian Information Commissioner to 
review my decision. Such an application must be made in writing within 60 days of the date of 
this letter, and be lodged in one of the following ways: 
  online:   
  email:    
  post: GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW, 2001. 
More information about Information Commissioner review is available on the Office of the 
Australian Information Commissioner website (accessed via:
If you have any queries or wish to discuss my decision, please contact the NHMRC FOI Unit at 
Yours sincerely  
Tony Krizan  
Executive Director 
Corporate Operations and Information 
24 November 2021 
A.  Successful applications for NHMRC funding from 2016 2020 that include search terms 
relating to