Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Page: 4386


Mr BIDGOOD (6:08 PM) —I commend the Health Workforce Australia Bill 2009 to the House. With regard to my colleague the member for Bonner, who just spoke, I acknowledge the passion and the conviction that she has about healthcare services in Queensland. I totally concur with her comments and commend her passion and conviction. We have also heard from the member for Dobell and the member for Page, and we will be hearing from the member for Kingston and the member for Blair, who I know also share a deep conviction of the importance of providing top-quality health care to all Australians, regardless of wealth, position, creed or background.

This bill establishes Health Workforce Australia, known as HWA, as a statutory authority under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. The principal provisions in the bill specify the functions, governance and structure of the HWA, and the HWA will manage the majority of initiatives under the $1.6 billion health workforce package agreed by the Council of Australian Governments, known as COAG, in November 2008. The Commonwealth will provide $125 million over four years for the establishment and operation of HWA. A further $1.2 billion in combined Commonwealth, state and territory funding will be administered through the HWA for the majority of initiatives under the COAG health workforce package. HWA will implement the majority of initiatives under the COAG health workforce package, which is expected to positively impact the community, including through improvements in clinical training arrangements that will help maintain the quality and safety of the future health workforce, and policy and planning directions to support the Australian health workforce.

The Health Workforce Australia Bill 2009 establishes a national health workforce authority, which is part of the $1.6 billion health workforce reform package agreed to by COAG in November 2008. The package forms part of the National Partnership Agreement on Hospital and Health Workforce Reform signed by the Prime Minister and all states and territories in March 2009. The Commonwealth is contributing $1.1 billion to the health workforce reform package, with states and territories providing $539.2 million. The national health workforce authority will implement the majority of initiatives under the COAG package.

The authority, to be known as Health Workforce Australia, will establish more effective, streamlined and integrated clinical training arrangements and support workforce planning and policy. Its responsibilities will include comprehensively planning, coordinating and funding undergraduate clinical training across all health disciplines. On this point I would like to bring to the chamber’s notice that the Anna Bligh state government has made a very good decision in its creative accounting to sell off the Mackay, Cairns and Mount Isa airports and to invest in new hospitals. That is good news for the people of Dawson. Particularly, a new Mackay Base Hospital will be built alongside the old Mackay Base Hospital. Because of population expansion, there is a greater need for healthcare services. There will be $405 million provided by the state government. It is good that the federal government can come in and help facilitate clinical training and turn it into a training hospital for future nurses and doctors. That is something on which we are working across different boundaries. The federal government is working with the state government—and I recognise the effectiveness of local government in providing roads and bridges around the area—to the great benefit of the local community.

HWA will ensure this training occurs in the most streamlined, integrated and educationally effective manner, with appropriate support for coordination and supervision at the regional, local and health service levels. This will include new structural arrangements that attach clinical training funding to students in a range of service settings and support for clinical supervision administered through the HWA. The HWA will lead and support health workforce research, planning and policy development to inform policy decisions on workforce supply, demand, distribution, utilisation and design issues. This will include continually improving national health workforce information and the establishment of a national workforce statistical resource. Also, it will provide a coordinated approach to both the use and financing of simulation training, including the establishment and operation of simulated learning environments. Also, we will be taking a national approach to workforce policy and providing advice to health ministers on relevant workforce issues.

HWA will be legally and financially separate from the Commonwealth. It will be established under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, the CAC Act, thereby providing governance arrangements that reflect the shared funding and policy interests of all jurisdictions. The bill is required to establish HWA as a statutory authority under the CAC Act and to specify the functions, governance and structure of HWA, including the interaction with ministers and ministerial committees.

HWA will be governed by a board comprising a nominee from each jurisdiction represented on the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council and a chair, and may include up to three independent members selected by health ministers. The board’s responsibilities will include advising and reporting to health ministers and developing policies and operational plans as required. A chief executive officer will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of HWA and will report to the board. Expert committees and consultants will be engaged to assist with HWA functions as required.

In November 2008 COAG agreed to spend $1.6 billion on the health workforce package. The Commonwealth is contributing $1.1 billion to the COAG package, with the states and territories providing the extra $539.2 million. The COAG package forms part of the National Partnership Agreement on Hospital and Health Workforce Reform signed by all states and territories in March 2009. The package gives the Commonwealth greater involvement in the health workforce, which is traditionally an area managed by the states and territories.

The package includes establishing a national health workforce authority to produce more effective, streamlined and integrated clinical training arrangements and to support workforce planning and policy development. The authority will implement the majority of initiatives under the COAG package, including: funding, planning and coordinating pre-professional entry clinical training across all health disciplines; supporting clinical training supervision; supporting health workforce research and planning, including through a national workforce and planning statistical database; funding stimulation, as I have said; having a national approach to workforce planning; and providing the secretariat and research support to an independent advisory council for the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. The authority will also ensure best value for money for the workforce initiatives and more rapid and substantive planning for future workforce needs and will provide advice to health ministers on relevant workforce issues.

The Commonwealth will fund the establishment and operation of the authority at $125 million over four years. The authority will administer around $1.2 billion in Commonwealth, state and territory funding for the workforce initiatives. Health ministers have agreed to the authority being called Health Workforce Australia. Health ministers also agreed to HWA being established under the CAC Act, thereby providing governance arrangements that reflect the shared funding and policy interests of all jurisdictions.

As I said, the bill is required to establish HWA as a statutory authority under the CAC Act and to specify the functions, governance and structure of HWA. Given the functions and level of funding for which HWA will be responsible, it is essential that there is a legislative basis for its operations. The bill will also enable mechanisms for health ministers to provide directions to the HWA and for HWA to report to health ministers.

HWA is to commence management of the pre-professional entry clinical training from January 2010. The bill is required to establish HWA by July 2009 to ensure it is operational within the time frame agreed to in the COAG health workforce reform package. In conclusion, I wholeheartedly endorse and recommend this bill to the House.