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Health Workforce Australia Bill 2009

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2008-2009

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA BILL 2009

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP)



 



HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA BILL 2009

 

OUTLINE

T he Health Workforce Australia Bill 2009 (the Bill) establishes Health Workforce Australia (HWA).  HWA will be a National Health Workforce Authority that forms part of the $1.6 billion health workforce package agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in November 2008.  HWA will be responsible for implementing the majority of initiatives under the COAG workforce package.

 

There is currently a need for more effective governance arrangements around health workforce training, planning and policy development that can work across and with jurisdictions and the health and education sectors.  The creation of a new single body that can operate across both the health and education sectors and jurisdictional responsibilities in health is critical to devising national solutions that effectively integrate workforce planning and policy. 

 

HWA will establish more effective, streamlined and integrated clinical training arrangements and support workforce policy and planning.  Its responsibilities will include funding, planning and coordinating pre-professional entry clinical training across all health disciplines; supporting health workforce research and planning, including through a national workforce planning statistical resource, and funding simulation training.  The Authority will also ensure best value for money for the workforce initiatives, a more rapid and substantive workforce planning and policy development environment and will provide advice to Health Ministers on relevant workforce issues.

 

The Bill is required to establish HWA as a statutory authority under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 , thereby providing governance arrangements that reflect the shared funding and policy interest of all jurisdictions.  The principal provisions in the Bill establish HWA under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and specify the functions, governance and structure of HWA.

 

HWA will consist of:

-         A Board of Directors comprising of a nominee from each State and Territory and the Commonwealth, an independent Chair and may include up to three independent members selected by Health Ministers.  The Board will govern HWA, advise and report to Health Ministers and develop policies and operational plans as required;

-         A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of HWA and will report to the Board;

-         Expert Committees and Consultants engaged to assist with HWA functions as required; and

-         HWA staff.

 

Financial Impact Statement

The Bill establishes the HWA.  The Commonwealth will provide $125 million over four years for the establishment and operation of HWA.  A further $1.2 billion in combined Commonwealth and States and Territory funding will be administered through HWA over four years for the majority of initiatives under the COAG health workforce package.  The annual funding for HWA is shown below.

 

 

2009/10

($ million)

2010/11

($ million)

2011/12

($ million)

2012/13

($ million)

Total

 ($ million)

Direct HWA funding

25.0

30.0

35.0

35.0

125.0

Funding administered through HWA

171.1

345.7

364.4

338.3

1219.5

 

 



HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA BILL 2009

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

PART 1 PRELIMINARY

Clause 1: Short title

This is a formal provision which provides that the Bill, once enacted, may be referred to as the Health Workforce Australia Act 2009.

 

Clause 2: Commencement

This clause provides that the Bill commences on the day it receives Royal Assent or 1 July 2009 whichever is the later.

 

Clause 3: Definitions

This clause sets out definitions of terms that are relied on in other provisions throughout the Bill.  Important definitions that warrant detailed explanation include the following:

Eligible clinical training is a placement undertaken by medical, nursing, dental and other health professionals to gain practical experience under supervision.  Clause 5(3)(b) allows for the Minister to determine what is an eligible course for the purposes of this Bill.

Eligible student is a student undertaking a course of eligible clinical training and who meets any other criteria.  Clause 5(3)(a) allows for the Minister to determine what is an eligible student for the purposes of this Bill.

Health workforce means the body of professionals who are providing or are employed to provide professional health care services to Australians in public and private hospitals, private practices and other government and non-government institutions. 

PART 2 HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA

 

Clause 4: Establishment

This clause establishes HWA as a body corporate which must have a seal.

 

Subsection (1) establishes the HWA and subsection (2) provides that it is a body corporate which must have a seal, may deal with property and may sue or be sued.  The Note to this subsection assists the reader by making clear that HWA is subject to the CAC Act and briefly describes the nature of that Act.

 

Subsection (3) deals with the safe-keeping and use of the HWA seal and subsection (4) deals with the judicial treatment of the HWA seal on documents.

 

Clause 5: Functions

This clause sets out the functions of HWA, the major functions being to plan, coordinate and provide funding in relation to eligible pre-professional entry clinical training and supervision and to provide advice to health ministers on health workforce issues (subsection (1)).  Paragraph (5)(1)(f) provides for the conferral of additional functions on HWA, contemplating that over time such additional functions may be necessary or required through regulations.  Subsection (2) makes clear that any such conferral of additional functions must be requested by Australian Health Ministers’ Conference.

 

Subsections (3) and (4) deal with HWA’s provision of financial support, specifying that HWA may make payments to or for eligible persons undertaking to, proposing to, or actually providing, clinical training or the associated facilities.  It is anticipated eligibility will, in the first instance, be limited to students in a Commonwealth supported Australian tertiary institution undertaking clinical training that leads to professional entry or registration in a relevant health discipline.  Eligible courses are expected to be those that are accredited by a recognised accrediting body for the purposes of registration, or where this is not applicable, otherwise specified in the legislative instrument.

 



Clause 6: Powers

This clause empowers HWA to undertake activities necessary or convenient to perform its functions prescribed at section 5, including day-to-day operations such as entering into contracts.

 

Clause 7: Ministerial directions

This clause enables Health Ministers to give directions to HWA through the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference (subsection (1)).  It is expected that Health Ministers’ directions will be used to determine operations issues, such as eligibility criteria for the pre-professional entry clinical training subsidies and publication requirements direct.  This is expected to include a Ministerial direction to the Board to circulate relevant publications to the Health Workforce Principal Committee. Such directions must be of a general nature (paragraph (2)(a)) and must be consistent with this Act, its regulations, the CAC Act or any legislation made pursuant to that Act (paragraph (7)(2)(b)), and will only be implemented following consultation with the Chair of the Governing Board (subsection (3)). 

 

Subsection (4) provides that such directions will not be legislative instruments, and therefore not subject to the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 .

 

Major new functions for HWA would require amendments to the HWA Act rather than through Health Ministers’ directions.

 

PART 3 THE BOARD OF HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA

 

Clause 8: Establishment

This clause establishes the Board of HWA.

 

Clause 9: Role

This clause sets out the governing role of the Board, which is to ensure the proper and efficient performance of HWAs functions (subsection (1)).  The Board is empowered to carry out all things necessary or convenient to be done in connection with its duties (subsection (2)) and will be taken to have been carried out by HWA (subsection (3)). 

 

Subsection (4) deals with the exercise of powers or functions which depend upon an opinion, belief or state of mind of HWA.

 

In performing its role, the Board will report to, and take directions from, Health Ministers (see clause 7).

 

DIVISION 2 MEMBERS OF THE BOARD

 

Clause 10: Membership 

This clause provides for the Board to consist of a Chair, one member nominated by each State and Territory and the Commonwealth and up to three independent members.

 

Clause 11: Appointment of members

This clause provides for the Commonwealth Health Minister to appoint Board members, by written instrument (subsection (1)), following agreement of State and Territory Health Ministers (subsection (2)).  All appointments will be on a part-time basis (subsection (3)).

 

Clause 12: Term of appointment

This clause provides that the term of Board membership is 3 to 5 years.  Board members will be eligible for reappointment to the Board.  A Board appointment can resign (see clause 16) or be terminated at other times if necessary (see clause 17).

 

Clause 13: Acting appointments

This clause provides for the Commonwealth Health Minister, following agreement from State and Territory Health Ministers, to appoint an acting Chair (subsection (1)) or acting member (subsection (2)) to the Board when necessary due to vacancies or absences.  Such appointments will be by written instrument (subsection (3)).

 

Subsection (4) deals with persons purporting to act under an appointment and provides that such actions are not invalid if the prescribed circumstances apply, such as cessation of the appointment or a defective instrument of appointment.

 

The Note to this section assists the reader by providing a reference to the appointment provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 .

 

Clause 14: Remuneration

This clause provides that the remuneration of Board members is to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, or by the regulations if there is no determination by the Tribunal (subsection (1)).  Subsection (2) specifies that Board members will not be eligible for remuneration if they are full-time employees of prescribed bodies, such as a State government.

 

Subsection (3) provides that members are to be paid allowances to be set out in the regulations, and subsection (4) makes clear that this provision is subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 .

 

Clause 15: Leave

This clause provides for the Commonwealth Health Minister to grant the Chair of the Board leave of absences and to determine the conditions of the leave (subsection (1)) and for the Chair of the Board to provide the same function for granting leave of absence to other Board members (subsection (2)).  It also requires the Chair to notify the Commonwealth Health Minster if a leave of absence greater than 6 months is granted (subsection (3)).

 

Clause 16: Resignation

This clause provides for resignation of Board members through written resignation to the Commonwealth Health Minister (subsection (1)).  Any such resignation is effective from either the day the Minister receives the written notice or a later date if specified in the resignation (subsection (2)).



Clause 17: Termination of appointment

This clause provides for the Commonwealth Health Minister following agreement from State and Territory Health Ministers to terminate the appointment of a government nominated member (subsection (1)) or other board members due to specified circumstances, including incapacity and non-approved absenteeism (subsection (2)).  Subsections (1) and (2) specify the circumstances in which the Minister may terminate an appointment, and subsection (3) specifies the circumstances in which the Minister must terminate an appointment.

 

Clause 18: Other terms and conditions of appointment

This clause provides for the Commonwealth Health Minister to determine other terms and conditions of Board membership not otherwise covered in the Act.

 

DIVISION 3 PROCEDURES OF THE BOARD

 

Clause 19: Convening of meetings

This clause sets out the minimum Board meetings to be convened, being 3 per year (subsection (1)), and the circumstances for convening additional meetings, being direction from the Chair if he or she considers an additional meeting is necessary (subsection (2)) or by Health Ministers (subsection (3)).

 

Clause 20: Presiding at meetings

This clause provides that the Chair of the Board is to preside at all Board meetings at which he or she is present (subsection (1)), and where the Chair is not present, for a Board member elected by the Board to preside (subsection (2)).

 

Clause 21: Quorum

This clause provides that a quorum is established if there is the Chair and six government nominated members present or seven government nominated members present (subsection (1)).  In circumstances where a member is required to absent himself or herself from deliberations or a decision for reasons of material personal interest, the remaining Board members constitute a quorum for any deliberations or decision relating to that matter (subsection (2)).

 

Clause 22: Voting at meetings

This clause provides for Board decisions to be made on a majority basis (subsection (1)), with the Chair of the Board or presiding member having the casting vote (subsection (2)).

 

Clause 23: Decisions without meetings

This clause provides for decisions of the Board to be made without a formal meeting in certain circumstances (subsection (1)).  The mechanism for such decision-making (such as advice in writing from Board members) will be determined by the Board (subsection (2)).

 

Subsection (3) provides that a member would not be entitled to vote on a decision if he or she would not have been eligible to vote on the decision at a Board meeting.

 

Clause 24: Other procedural matters

This clause provides for the Board to regulate the conduct of its meetings, subject to the CAC Act, as it thinks fit (subsection (1)) and to record decisions made at meetings (subsection (2)).

 

The Note to subsection (1) assists the reader by providing a reference to the provision of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 which deals with members’ participation in meetings.



PART 4 CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, STAFF AND CONSULTANTS

 

DIVISION 1 THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA

 

Clause 25: Establishment

This clause specifies that there MUST be a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HWA.

 

Clause 26: Role

This clause sets out the role of the CEO, being the day-to-day administration of HWA (subsection (1)), and empowers the CEO to do all things necessary in performing the role (subsection (2)).  The CEO must act in accordance with policies and directions from the Board (subsection (3)).  

 

Clause 27:   Appointment

This clause provides for the CEO of HWA to be appointed by the Board, following consultation with the Commonwealth Health Minister and following consultation with the State and Territory Health Ministers (subsections (1) and (2)). Subsection (7) provides for the first CEO to be appointed by the Commonwealth Health Minister, following consultation with the State and Territory Health Ministers, given the Board will not yet be established.  Appointment will be by written instrument (subsection (3)) and will be on a full-time basis (subsection (4)).  Subsection (5) provides for the appointment period to be 3 to 5 years, and subsection (6) provides that the CEO cannot be a member of the Board.  The CEO will be eligible for reappointment.

 

Clause 28: Acting appointments

This clause provides for the Board to appoint an acting CEO to vacancies or absences by the existing CEO (subsection (1).  The Board must consult the Commonwealth Health Minister who in turn must consult with the State and Territory Health Ministers (subsection (2)).  The appointment must be by written instrument (subsection (3)).

 

Subsection (4) deals with persons purporting to act under an appointment and provides that such actions are not invalid if the prescribed circumstances apply, such as cessation of the appointment or a defective instrument of appointment.

 

Clause 29: Outside employment

This clause specifies that the CEO is not to engage in paid employment outside the CEO role without approval by the Chair of the Board (subsection (1)) and that the Board must notify the Commonwealth Health Minister if providing such approval (subsection (2)).

 

Clause 30: Remuneration

This clause provides that the remuneration of the CEO is to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, or by the regulations if there is no determination by the Tribunal (subsection (1)). 

 

Subsection (2) provides that members are to be paid allowances to be set out in the regulations, and subsection (3) makes clear that this provision is subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 .

 

 

Clause 31: Leave

This clause provides for the CEO’s recreation leave entitlements to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal (subsection (1)).  It also provides that the Chair of the Board may grant, and determine the conditions of, other leaves of absence (subsection (2)) and requires the Chair to notify the Commonwealth Health Minister if granting the CEO leave of more than two month (subsection (3)).

 

Clause 32: Disclosure of interests

This clause requires the CEO to inform the Board, in writing, of any personal interests that may conflict with the performance of the CEO role.

 

Clause 33: Resignation

This clause provides for the resignation of the CEO by written resignation to the Chair (subsection (1)).  Such resignation is effective from either the day the Chair receives the written notice or a later date if specified in the resignation (subsection (2)).  The Chair is required to notify the Commonwealth Health Minister if the CEO resigns (subsection (3)).

 

Clause 34: Termination

This clause provides for the Board, to terminate the appointment of the CEO due to specified circumstances, including incapacity and non-approved absenteeism. Subsection (1) specifies the circumstances in which the Board may terminate an appointment.  Subsection (2) requires that the Board must consult with the Commonwealth Health Minister who must consult with the State and Territory Health Ministers before terminating the appointment under subsection(1). Subsection (3) specifies the circumstances in which the Board must terminate an appointment.  Subsection (4) requires that the Board must notify the Commonwealth Health Minister if the Board has terminated the appointment of the CEO.

 

Clause 35: Other terms and conditions

This clause provides for the Board to determine other terms and conditions of the CEO’s office not otherwise covered in the Act.

 

DIVISION 2 STAFF AND CONSULTANTS

 

Clause 36: Staff

This clause provides for HWA to employ staff to support the performance of HWA functions (subsection (1)) and to determine, in writing, the terms and conditions of staff employment (subsection (2)).

 

Clause 37: Arrangements for secondments of staff

This clause provides for HWA to arrange for the services of employees of Commonwealth (subsection (1)) or State and Territory Government (subsection (2)) agencies or bodies to be made available to HWA.

 

Clause 38: Consultants

This clause provides for HWA to engage consultants to assist in performing its functions.  This will enable HWA to gain expert advice relevant to workforce issues and/or to implement projects as required.



PART 5 COMMITTEES

 

Clause 39: Committees

This clause provides for HWA to establish committees to provide advice or assistance to HWA in the performance of its functions (subsection (1)).  The membership of such committee may be by Board members, non-members or a mixture of both (subsection (2)).  Subsection (3)) provides that HWA may determine the terms of reference, appointment terms and conditions and procedures for such a committee.

 

PART 6 OTHER MATTERS

 

Clause 40: How the Ministerial Conference gives agreement etc .

This clause provides for Health Ministers to give nominations, agreement or directions (as applicable) in accordance with procedures determined by Health Ministers.

 

Clause 41: Taxation

This clause specifies that HWA is not subject to taxation under any Commonwealth, States or Territory law.  It does not exempt HWA from GST.

 

Clause 42: Constitutional operation

This provision provides for the functions of HWA to be performed within constitutional powers

 

Clause 43: Regulations

This clause provides for the Governor-General to make regulations required, necessary or convenient for the operation or giving effect of the Act.

 

For example, this Bill enables regulations to be made in relation to:

·          the functions of HWA (see clause 5);

·          directions by Health Ministers to HWA (see clause 7);

·          the remuneration of Board members, including allowances (see clause 14); and

·          the remuneration of the CEO, including allowances (see clause 30).