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Thursday, 12 September 1985
Page: 500

Senator CROWLEY —I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Recently the Minister for Health announced the establishment of two major new bodies to advise on nursing issues, the National Nursing Consultative Committee and the Commonwealth-State Advisory Committee on Nursing Issues. Can the Minister say whether these bodies are now appointed and whether they have started their work? In particular, what issues are they addressing and under what criteria will they be operating?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Crowley said, Dr Blewett announced recently the establishment of two high level nursing committees, the National Nursing Consultative Committee and the Commonwealth-State Advisory Committee on Nursing Issues. The first Committee was established in response to representations to Dr Blewett from the nursing unions and from others in the profession. He invited peak association and professional organisations with a national perspective to nominate members to that Committee. Even though nursing is primarily a State responsibility, the Committee is to provide Dr Blewett with high level advice on nursing issues which have a national perspective which will enable the Government to keep the nursing profession informed of developments at a national level. The associations represented on the National Nursing Consultative Committee include the Royal Australian Nursing Federation, the College of Nursing of Australia, the National Council of Health Organisations and the Australian Congress of Mental Health Nurses. They will be joined by officers of the Commonwealth Department of Health. From time to time, the Committee also can call experts in various fields of nursing to advise on specific issues.

The Commonwealth-State Advisory Committee on Nursing Issues was an initiative of the Australian Health Ministers' Conference which met, I think, in May this year. Its formation also recognises the need for the nursing profession to have input at the highest levels of government. In particular, the Committee will advise the Council of Health Ministers on many issues, with particular emphasis on the nursing labour force in Australia, which, of course, is of great concern to us all. Industrial issues, nurses' education and the place of nursing in modern health care delivery also will be considered by the Committee. The Committee is made up of the senior nursing advisers to the State and territorial governments. They will be joined by leading State and Commonwealth Health Ministers.

Both committees will have their first meetings in early October. Initially, they will both be chaired by the Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health, Ms Ann Kern. The actual working relationships between the committees will be discussed at the initial meeting of each committee in order to achieve a co-operative approach in matters which are largely State responsibilities but which have implications for the health care of us all and particular implications for Federal health funding. Working groups on specific subjects of nursing, such as education and work force, will support the committees as they require such assistance.