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Wednesday, 1 September 1993
Page: 841

(Question No. 232)

Senator Newman asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 18 May 1993:

  With reference to the report of the study into the rationalisation of the health staff of the Headquarters of the Australian Defence Force (HQADF) and the Service Offices, considered by the Chiefs of Staff Committee in December 1992 and which recommended integrating all staff into one organisation in HQADF;

  (1) Do the changes being considered involve reserving the four most senior positions for doctors;

  (2) Does the exclusion of dentists, nurses and other appropriately qualified and experienced health professionals from the most senior health positions in the Australian Defence Force reflect modern health service management practice and the broad policy formulation and management responsibilities involved.

Senator Robert Ray —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) No. The responsibilities of the Surgeon General and two of his directors general are predominantly medical in nature necessitating that medical qualifications be a prerequisite. The responsibilities of the third director general are such that the position is available to both medical and other health professionals.

  (2) Yes. This arrangement is entirely in keeping with modern military medical practice. The health services in the Australian Defence Force provide a service not available from the civilian sector: a field service in support of military operations. At the most senior levels of management, the task is to situate the provision of health services in the military context. This involves the provision of health advice and the development of health policy with an appreciation of the impact that such advice and policy will have on the provision of military health services to meet military operational needs. Considerable military experience is necessary and, as the advice requested and the policies generated are predominantly of a medical nature, the Service medical officer stream would seem to be best placed to provide candidates for these positions. Nevertheless, as indicated in answering the first question, the responsibilities of one of the one star health positions in the Australian Defence Force are such that the position is available to both medical and other health professionals.