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COMMUNITY AFFAIRS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE
03/06/2010
HEALTH AND AGEING PORTFOLIO
Health Workforce Australia

CHAIR —Welcome, Mr Cormack. Senator Fierravanti-Wells.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Thank you. I have got a media release from the minister, dated 11 February. The release talks about $1.6 billion in workforce investment and the government has committed $1.1 billion to the partnership and $500 million will come from the states. What component of that $1.6 billion is just the agency? If I read the budget papers correctly, the agency is not directly appropriated. Appropriations are made to the department, which are being paid to the agency and considered departmental for all purposes. I am trying to work out this $1.6 billion. It is not actually in their moneys. Can somebody help me out here?

Mr Cormack —The $1.6 billion that is referred to in the media release is the amount specified in the national partnership agreement that was signed in 2008. I will have to take on notice the specific figure, but approximately $500 million of that is existing efforts and contributions by state and territory governments, which brings the quantum back to $1.1 billion over four years. From that, there is a component which is allocated to postgraduate GP training, which was in the $1.1 billion Commonwealth funding, and that has been allocated, as I am advised, to GPET. Broadly speaking, the balance is what is allocated to Health Workforce Australia over the four-year period.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I am just trying to understand. You have got a workforce responsibility in the department. You will now have a workforce element in this agency and then you have got the General Practice Education and Training program. Can somebody explain the roles of the three and their relationship to each other? It seems to me that there will be at least some overlap and there will certainly be interaction.

Ms K Flanagan —First of all, as Mr Cormack has indicated, there are a range of functions that are set out that are expected of the Health Workforce agency. One of the biggest is to provide additional Commonwealth money to enhance undergraduate training. There are also functions around looking at workforce planning and trying to forecast what sort of workforce supply we may need into the future.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —General Practice Education and Training told us they do not actually do the training; they just coordinate the training. They, effectively, procure and do that. Then you currently have Health Workforce Australia, which will actually do training? When I say ‘training’ I mean it in its broadest sense, so not just facilitate it but actually do it.

Ms K Flanagan —Health Workforce Australia has a significant grant program to enhance training opportunities for undergraduates. GPET delivers training places for postgraduate GP training. There are other functions expected of Health Workforce Australia, such as perhaps looking at simulated learning environments and other ways of providing training. GPET, of course, is specific to GP training, but Health Workforce Australia is responsible for undergraduate training—not only for medical undergraduates but also for allied health professionals and nurses. There are three or four other things that Health Workforce Australia is responsible for.

You just heard Senator Adams running through a range of programs—for example, establishing rural clinical schools, dental schools et cetera. The department administers a range of programs, which are mainly postgraduate but can be undergraduate in terms of capital investments into, as I say, things like rural clinical schools. If it would help, we could do you a bit of a map.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Yes, I am into maps!

Ms K Flanagan —But we would need to do that on notice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —If you could do that, I would appreciate it, because I think there are noodles, and I have not quite worked it out.

Ms K Flanagan —I do not know that they are noodles.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —There will be lots of lines going everywhere, I think. So the actual amount is really the money that is there allocated for the training, and included in that figure of $1.1 billion are obviously the costs of the agency.

Ms K Flanagan —Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —It has obviously just been established. What is your operating budget, Mr Cormack?

Mr Cormack —The core operating costs of the agency for 2009-10 are $12.5 million, then $30 million the subsequent year and $35 million in 2012-13.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I am just trying to find the page.

Mr Cormack —That is the core agency funding. With reference to the portfolio budget statement, it is on page 673. You can see the expenses there, ‘Total for program 1.1’.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Yes.

Mr Cormack —The amounts that I mentioned before were the specific subcomponents to operate the agency. The funding outlined there in table 2.1.1 is the annual expenses budget.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I note that in 2009-10 there are five staff and in 2010-11 you go up to 96.

Mr Cormack —Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Where are you at now with staffing?

Mr Cormack —We are in the middle of a large-scale national recruitment program. We have been advertising across the country over the last few weeks, and we expect to be building up to that number early in the new financial year. We are seeking up to 120 staff over time, but we will be building up, starting with our senior staff and then a group below that level.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I have noticed a number of advertisements, not only in the newspapers but on the web. I have an advertisement here of 15 May, which I assume was put in newspapers around Australia, and it is for what I take to be five senior executive positions. Are they the only senior executive positions or will there be more?

Mr Cormack —They are the five senior executive positions that we are looking for.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Then there are some more advertisements—Job Online, for example—for policy roles. How many do you envisage there?

Mr Cormack —In time we envisage that there will be up to 120 staff in the agency. There will be an executive group consisting of me, plus five initially, and then the balance of that 120 will be predominantly policy program management and a small component of administrative staff, plus a pool of research and data analysts.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I noticed an advertisement for policy roles, multiple positions. How many are you filling at the moment?

Mr Cormack —The agency has been up and running for four months. We are simultaneously recruiting the executive staff and, at the same time, recruiting a round of positions, such as those you have outlined, to enable the executive staff on appointment to have a pool of staff available for the midyear start.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I appreciate that. You have advertised for multiple roles. I just want to know how many positions. It says ‘various divisions’ and gives a salary figure—

Mr Cormack —I will take that on notice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I notice that they are all based in Adelaide.

Mr Cormack —That is correct.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Why was a decision made to base this national agency in Adelaide?

Ms Halton —It was a decision of the ministerial council.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Is there any particular reason why?

Ms Halton —That was what the ministers agreed. The Australian Health Ministers Conference agreed that this agency will be located in Adelaide.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I note Professor Bishop has gone.

Ms Halton —He has vaporised, I am afraid. If we need medical assistance for Senator Boyce, I can find someone else; don’t you worry!

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —That is all right. I went to a conference once where somebody was speaking and they asked, ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ and Dr Wooldridge walked in. That was when he was health minister, so I thought that was quite amusing.

Ms Halton —I do not know that Dr Wooldridge has actually practised medicine much recently.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —He certainly had his bag with him. Jim McGinty, a former Labor health minister in Western Australia, is the chair. He is over in WA, I think, so did that contribute to the decision to locate the agency in Adelaide?

Ms Halton —No, that was a decision made well after the location was established.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Mr Cormack, we have some policy roles and we have some financial roles. How many of those positions do we have?

Mr Cormack —We do not have any on board at the moment. We are using contracted staff to perform those functions.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —You are advertising for finance roles. How many are you filling as part of this—

Mr Cormack —Initially we would be looking for three finance staff.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Then you are advertising for project officers and managers, with salary ranges of $61,000 to $117,000, or thereabouts. How many project officers and managers will you be bringing on board?

Mr Cormack —We have not specified the precise number out of the total staff of 120. We will be developing a more detailed staff profile as the executive staff are appointed, to line up with our work program.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —The applications for all of them close on 4 June. When people apply, they will want to know how many positions are available.

Mr Cormack —We have included within there a general expression of interest, because, as I mentioned, we are looking for up to 120 staff over time. We have not specified the precise numbers in each category beyond the executive group, but we are very keen to progress the work plan, and to do that we will to have as many staff on board as possible.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —You have also advertised for data analysts roles. Do you know how many of those positions there are?

Mr Cormack —I have not determined a final number.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Do you think that some of the workforce will come over from the department of health? Is it anticipated that the department of health might lose some staff, given there is an overlap of roles? Ms Flanagan, as you are going to provide to me, there are certainly areas of overlap.

Ms K Flanagan —I do not know that we would agree that there are areas of overlap. We will give you the map. But certainly there would be no reason why, if staff in the department were interested in applying for the jobs, they would not be able to do so.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —The point I am making, Ms Flanagan, is that you have got a large bureaucracy in the department. Senator Adams took us through just some of the workforce areas. You have myriad people in the department already involved in workforce areas. Is there any duplication in what you are doing as a consequence of setting up a whole new bureaucracy which is going to do workforce?

Ms K Flanagan —We do not believe so. The agency is in its infancy. We will be working very closely with it. I have indicated that there is a delineation between the sorts of programs that the department delivers and the sorts of programs that Health Workforce delivers. But, clearly, work that Health Workforce does, for example, around workforce planning will be very valuable to the department and we will be looking to Health Workforce Australia to share that with us.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —The point I am trying to make is: what work is not being done in the department that is now necessitating an enormous bureaucracy being set up, another level of bureaucracy, which is going to have a budget of—sorry, what did you say, Mr Cormack?

Mr Cormack —The budget for 2010-11 is $243 million.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —One hundred and twenty people, so—

Ms K Flanagan —That is the total budget. You are possibly after the administrative budget to run the agency.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —That is what I thought Mr Cormack—

Mr Cormack —No, I was referring to the total budget of the agency, which includes a very significant grants program.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Okay. And what was the actual running cost of the agency?

Mr Cormack —The core agency allocation in 2010-11 is $30 million.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —So, Ms Flanagan, what deficiency do you have in the department that you have not been able to meet over the last three years that now necessitates the establishment of a new bureaucracy of over 100 people which costs $30 million a year to run?

CHAIR —Senator, I am sure the officer will answer in the best way that she can, but I think the phrasing of that question was not an appropriate question to officers of the department.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Let me rephrase it.

CHAIR —Okay, give it a go.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Clearly there is a perceived void that needs to be filled in this area. What is not being done in the department now that necessitates the establishment of a new bureaucracy of over 100 people on a budget of $30 million?

Ms Halton —I will take that question, if I might. We have had a major problem with workforce in this country. It is well acknowledged by, I had thought, both sides of politics. We have a significant shortage of nurses. We have had major problems with doctors. I could go on via professions. Why is this so? If you look at what is required to deliver a workforce, we have been fractured across state lines and we have been fractured across the Commonwealth and the states because of the different roles that different parties play. The blunt reality is that, if we had not done something about creating an integrated national approach to workforce, frankly, when all of us get there, there will not be enough care in acute care, subacute care, ambulatory care, primary care and, dare I say, residential care.

What governments of all persuasions across the country have done is to have a very serious look at how we are going to rectify this significant problem. It was agreed—and I think this is absolutely the right decision—that we need a singular, solitary focus on making sure we deliver the workforce necessary. The new National Registration and Accreditation Scheme—commenced, I might add, under the last government—is a key plank in this and the reality is that this agency, which is a creature of all governments, is absolutely fundamental to creating a better workforce environment for the delivery of health and aged care.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Ms Halton, do I take from that that there is absolutely going to be no duplication of efforts; that this agency, together with your department and General Practice Education and Training, will not result in additional unnecessary bureaucracy?

Ms Halton —Absolutely.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —You give that guarantee?

Ms Halton —Absolutely. I can tell you right now, Senator, if there is any suspicion or problem in respect of potential duplication, I will be the first one, if it is pointed out to me, to root it out. We are not interested in duplicatory functions. In fact, the whole point about this agency is that it is meant to actually reduce duplication.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —That was my point. Is there going to be any reduction in your staff numbers, Ms Halton?

Ms Halton —If you look at the budget appropriations you will see that the staffing appropriation in my department, notwithstanding the significant additional functions coming out of COAG, remains about static. In fact, if it had not been for the COAG initiatives we would have dropped quite significantly this year.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Ms Halton, that is all very well. With our $30 million a year and our 100 extra bureaucrats, what practical targets is this agency setting itself? I do not see anything practical in terms of numbers or what this is actually going to do. I appreciate that bureaucracy and setting up new bureaucracies has become a feature in recent years, but the establishment of another new bureaucracy does not of itself create a practical outcome. What is the practical outcome? When are we going to start seeing the first practical outcomes of this investment?

Ms Halton —I am very happy for Mr Cormack to outline to you precisely what he is going to deliver, because I can assure you that you are not the only person interested in that: I am, all my colleagues are, and I know all the ministers are.

CHAIR —Mr Cormack, before you answer—Senator, how much longer are you going to be?

Senator ADAMS —Can I just—

CHAIR —Sure.

Senator ADAMS —I can just use quarter of an hour for rural health, so I think this is terribly important because—

CHAIR —Senator, that is fine. We will do that. I was aiming for rural health being only about half an hour, but after we have finished this one we are having a 10-minute break so that we can get ready for the last one. I just wanted to get a sense of time for the officers.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —We will be on time. In fact, I will probably be another five minutes or so, and then Senator Adams.

CHAIR —That is fine. It was just to get an idea. Thank you, Mr Cormack.

Mr Cormack —Thank you, Senator. Just to focus on the key deliverables of the agency, in the National Partnership Agreement there is a table which identifies, between 2005 and 2010, a 70 per cent increase in nursing commencements at university and a 50 per cent increase in the placement requirements in the clinical training sector; for doctors, a 61 per cent increase, and a 65 per cent increase in clinical training requirements in the sector.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Sorry, this is page six hundred and—

Mr Cormack —No. I am referring to the National Partnership Agreement. I am just trying to give you some background there.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Sorry. I was just looking at the budget papers. I do not have the agreement.

Mr Cormack —Between 2005 and 2010, that is the sort of increase in undergraduate places that are coming through the system. In order to be able to respond to that, because that requires additional hands-on staff in those training environments, over the next three years we will be allocating $139 million in 2010-11, $142 million in 2011-12 and $143 million to support the front-line doctors, nurses, allied health, pharmacy and physio, who are receiving training in the clinical training environments, hospitals, primary care and community settings.

On top of that, we will also recognise the additional burden that this places on other health professionals who have to train 60 per cent or 70 per cent more students than they did before. We will be allocating $6 million in 2010-11, $8 million in 2011-12 and $10 million in 2012-13 to improve the quality, consistency, tools and support that are available to train health professionals in the future.

Ms Halton —Can I put this in non-bureaucratic language. What this agency is going to do is make sure that all of the people coming out of institutions who need it get clinical training that is relevant to the way they will need to practise their profession in the future. That means not just mostly in a hospital; it means in a private hospital, in a public hospital, in a community based setting, in a rural environment and in a metropolitan area with disadvantaged people et cetera. It means that we will have the right number of those people in the right places. It also means that we will be confident that they will have the skills to deliver the kind of care that we are talking about in all the other reforms: integrated care, working in teams et cetera. Their job is to make sure that, as these numbers come through, they get all of that skill and, furthermore, that the people working in hospitals, private and public, and in general practice—working wherever—actually have the capacity to deliver that training, to help those people become fully functioning members of the medical profession, the nursing profession et cetera. That is their job.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —That is fine. I have taken all that on board, Ms Halton, and I hope that this promise does come to fruition. I saw another advertisement for a tender for mapping clinical training to support growth. Are you aware of that? It was in the papers on 22 May. Mr Cormack, can you explain what this actually means?

Mr Cormack —Yes, I can. It is a request for tender. What it is doing is ensuring that the money that is being spent, which I outlined in my previous statement, is being put to good effect—that is, we are able to demonstrate growth in the numbers of students, in the numbers of placements that are out there. Consistent with what Ms Halton said, we are also looking to expand the settings in which our health professional students are trained. To do that, we are asking for the assistance of consultants to map out the new places across the country that could take on additional students if the right incentives and the right conditions were offered, and also to assist us with supporting clinical trainers at a regional level through looking at regional training networks which bring together the higher education sector and the clinical training providers to be able to better plan and better support the delivery of good-quality training to health professionals.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —This tender says:

… undertake an extensive and detailed Australia-wide consultation and information gathering process across the health and education sectors.

This project will establish an evidence base to inform decisions—

and it talks about COAG. Is HWA seeking advice based on data and information collected from the field? I am sorry; this just does not make sense. In plain English, you are just setting up a bureaucracy of over 100 people—$30 million—and now you are going to go out to a tender for consultants to gather more information. I do not quite understand. This is just bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy, Mr Cormack.

Mr Cormack —The purpose of the consultancy is to make sure that public funds are invested wisely and that we are able to deliver the training outcomes that are being purchased with the funding I described before.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —So you are going to outsource that to another organisation? You have money that supposedly you are going to use for training and you have a bureaucracy that has been established to do that. That is what I understand you saying to me you are going to do. The bulk of your money will be in grants. Then you are going to—what?—outsource this to entity X that wins this tender. I do not understand.

Mr Cormack —We are working towards a timetable where we need to have a lot of additional clinical training capacity in place for the commencement of the 2011 academic year. We are a start-up organisation, as we have indicated before, but we need a lot of good foundation work done very quickly, and the most efficient and time-effective way of doing that is to seek external assistance to get that work done.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —In other words, at the same time as you are setting up your bureaucracy and you are working towards your 96 bureaucrats, you are effectively going to get some other organisation to fill the gap—is that what you are doing?

Mr Cormack —No. They are assisting us to deliver the clinical training program funding quickly and effectively to enable a commencement in the beginning of the 2011 academic year.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I am sorry, Mr Cormack, I think it is just bureaucracy on bureaucracy, but we will see if you actually deliver what you say you are going to deliver. You are also going to bring in—what?—expert committees. I assume this is the consultants. Are there other consultants on the horizon, other than this tender in this financial year?

Mr Cormack —This is the biggest consultancy that we are running at the moment.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I am glad to hear that. What about expert committees that you will seek? On the website it says that you are going to establish some expert committees, so where do they come into the picture? Maybe you should draw a diagram for me as well.

Mr Cormack —I would happy to do that.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I would be very interested to see what your structure is now and what you anticipate it is going to be after you have put in 96 staff—all these SES positions, all these policy-whatever other positions, all the expert committees and all the consultants you intend to employ.

Senator Ludwig —I am sure there is an organisational chart that the witness can provide.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I was not able to find it, Minister, but I think I will leave it there; thank you.

Senator ADAMS —Congratulations on your appointment since I saw you last.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —He is really looking forward to it, I can tell.

Senator ADAMS —Yes. Being a Western Australian and this is an Australian-wide program, my first question is: what is going to happen if Western Australia do not sign up?

Ms K Flanagan —Sign up to the new national partnership?

Senator ADAMS —Yes.

Ms K Flanagan —The programs that are going to be administered by HWA, the extra $1.1 billion that the Commonwealth has committed to deliver through the agency, will not be affected, as we understand it, if WA does not sign the agreement.

Senator ADAMS —That is a relief. I am wondering about NRAS? How are they going to fit into the scheme? Do they run parallel with you or are they part of your overarching—

Ms Halton —It is part of the general strategy, but obviously it is not run out of Health Workforce Australia.

Senator ADAMS —No.

Ms Halton —The national registration and accreditation arrangements are set up as a national entity as against all the individual state entities that used to exist—and obviously very much controlled by the professions in terms of the committees et cetera.

Senator ADAMS —That is right, but I am just looking at the workforce. There would have to be quite a lot of communication, wouldn’t there, with them too?

Ms Halton —Absolutely.

Senator ADAMS —Mr Cormack, how do you see that fitting in?

Mr Cormack —We will be working very closely with NRAS. In fact, the collection of information about the regulated health professions will form part of our research basis. There will be a lot more information collected about doctors and nurses and allied health professionals that will enable us to plan workforce requirements for the future much more consistently than we have been able to do in the past.

Senator ADAMS —Coming back to the local hospital networks and Medicare Locals and how all of that fits together, will you be helping them with the training of the workforce for those specific areas? How is that going to work and what communication would you have with that?

Mr Cormack —Our job is to work across Commonwealth, state and territory governments. We report to health ministers, and we will be providing them with the information about the workforce that they need for the future and the training that is required to support that workforce into the future. We will need to take into account any changes that the national reform program throws up in terms of how we plan for workforce reform into the future.

Ms Halton —If I can expand on that a little bit, the reality is, with the new structures like the hospital networks and Medical Locals, that we know we are going to have to expand training in each of those domains. For example, one of the things that this particular tender here is going to do is work out where we can actually do that training. As Medicare Locals become established, it will give us a good place to go and talk about—for example, with primary care—how it is we can actually roll out training which will be relevant to the workforce of the future.

Senator ADAMS —I am getting a bit like Senator Fierravanti-Wells, needing to get a map because it is difficult. On the shortage of the workforce at the moment, what would be the main five areas you have now identified where we are desperately short?

Mr Cormack —The main areas of shortage have already been summarised previously, but we are really talking about nurses in particular. They would be the single biggest group, with roughly a third of the health professional workforce. Clearly there are very specific shortages there. There are growing shortages in a number of the allied health disciplines of physiotherapy and psychology—they are certainly areas of pressure—as well as specific shortages of medical professions in certain rural and remote areas. They are the ones that are clearly the priorities that we are looking at, but we have more work to do on further planning.

Senator ADAMS —Radiographers seem to be very scarce at the moment as well. Are they anywhere on your list?

Mr Cormack —Yes, they certainly are.

Senator ADAMS —They are a smaller group but they are very essential people.

CHAIR —That concludes outcome 12. Thank you to the officers and also Health Workforce Australia. I am sure you will be back to see us again, Mr Cormack.

Proceedings suspended from 9.04 pm to 9.14 pm

CHAIR —We are going into outcome 6. Senator Adams and Senator Siewert both have some questions. Senator Adams.

Senator ADAMS —I will be good and stay on outcome 6. Firstly, would someone like to tell me how much funding the Royal Flying Doctor Service are getting and how long that funding goes for?

Mr Andreatta —The current agreement with the RFDS is $247 million and that funding ceases at the end of this financial year.

Senator ADAMS —Then what happens? Have we got any forward estimates on that?

Mr Andreatta —At the moment we are in negotiations with the RFDS. We are negotiating a new contract for the next period.

Senator ADAMS —When that contract is let, how long is the period? Is it four years? How long does it go on?

Mr Andreatta —At this stage it is three years, but that is not yet locked in. There is consideration of a four-year contract as well. That will be part of the negotiations over the next few months.

Senator ADAMS —When do you expect to have those? If the funding is running out at the end of this financial—

Mr Andreatta —I beg your pardon—the following financial year, July 2011.

Senator ADAMS —That is all right. I was starting to think: ‘Goodness, that is not too good.’

Mr Andreatta —We have 12 months to renegotiate the new contract.

Senator ADAMS —That is all right. Can someone help me with The Rural Women’s GP Service, please?

Mr Andreatta —Again, that is administered by the RFDS. I can give you some update figures on the usage of that.

Senator ADAMS —Yes, that would be good.

Mr Andreatta —In 2009-10, the budgeted figure was 168 operational locations. Those are visits by the female GPs. As at 11 May 2010, we have had 165 visits. In terms of the number of patients seen by those female GPs, our budget was 17,500 and, in the first six months of the reporting period, there have been 9,535 consultations or patients seen.

Senator ADAMS —As far as the availability of female GPs, is there any problem getting people to be part of the program?

Mr Andreatta —No. I do not believe the RFDS has a problem sourcing female GPs to undertake this type of work. I think there is a waiting list to actually undertake that work.

Senator ADAMS —That is good. What about the Rural Primary Health Services program?

Mr Andreatta —That is a new program and it is a consolidation of four existing programs.

Senator ADAMS —Which ones?

Mr Andreatta —The Regional Health Services program; the More Allied Health Services program; the Multipurpose Centre program; and Building Healthy Communities in Remote Australia.

Senator ADAMS —They have all been rolled into that particular one?

Mr Andreatta —Correct. That started 1 January 2010. I am pleased to say that we have executed 172 contracts out of the 173, and that will cover the delivery of services to 1,700 remote communities.

Senator ADAMS —That is good. How do regions or areas apply for that? Is there an application process? How do they find out about it?

Mr Andreatta —The program is restricted to locations in RA2 to RA5—so the current classification from regional out to the most remote. I might pass this over to my colleague, Mr Cameron, who has the details.

Mr Cameron —The consolidation of the four programs into one was essentially to pull a common funding framework across all four. What we did not do as part of that consolidation was open it up to new entrants, so existing auspice organisations are the ones that are funded. But that does not mean that new services cannot be adopted by those auspice organisations in the local area.

Senator ADAMS —So it is still open for those bodies to take on?

Mr Cameron —To amend or change or take on new health services, yes.

Senator ADAMS —That clarifies it. I had been worried about just where that was going and I can see now where it was. That is good. As far as the funding goes, you are saying you have 172 out of 173 up and running. Is that correct?

Mr Andreatta —Just a correction: 171 out of 172.

Senator ADAMS —Is there any scope for new ones in the future? Is there any sort of future planning with the existing ones? The service can go in, but would there be any more communities that would be eligible to—

Mr Andreatta —At this stage the funding agreements are 3½ years—so to 30 June 2013.

Senator ADAMS —That will then be thrown open to any communities to apply within that area?

Mr Andreatta —A decision is yet to be made on how future funding agreements will be met once these ones expire. Presumably, one option will be to have an open, competitive expression of interest arrangement.

Senator ADAMS —Will this program be evaluated before 2013? Do you evaluate how these communities have coped with the program and if they have fulfilled the guidelines?

Mr Andreatta —As part of their contractual arrangements they are required to report to the department on progress and the activities that they undertake, on a six-monthly basis.

Senator ADAMS —I will not complicate things with the question that I was going to ask. We will go to the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program. It is in outcome 6. Could you help me with that—as to how it is going—and then I would like to ask about the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme; people being able to utilise that to visit the specialist who might have come out once and then they go to the city to see the specialist again. Could you tell me how popular that is and are you having any difficulty getting specialists to take up the program?

Mr Andreatta —I might pass this over to Mr Cameron.

Mr Cameron —The MSOAP is going well. The core MSOAP, noting that there have been a couple of expansions of the program in recent years, this year has planned for 1,651 services to be delivered—that is, outreach services to locations, not to be confused with individual interactions with patients. That is an increase of a couple of hundred services at this stage, assuming the full year’s information pans out the same as the first six months, which we are very pleased about. The budget for the core MSOAP is approximately $19 million each year.

Senator ADAMS —You are not having problems to date getting specialists to take it up?

Mr Cameron —Not in any uniform pattern. From time to time, for a number of reasons, there will be people that cannot make a planned visit, but generally, no.

Senator ADAMS —The way the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme works is that often specialists come out to an area and see the patients and then they are not visiting again for another month and the patient has to either go up for surgery or go back for further consultation within that month. Have you had any sort of feedback on that as to people not being able to access it?

Mr Andreatta —Are you talking about accessing PATS?

Senator ADAMS —Yes, the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.

Mr Andreatta —You would be aware that the jurisdictions have responsibility for administering and delivering the PATS arrangements. From the Commonwealth’s point of view, we are involved at the moment with the states and territories through the Rural Health Standing Committee to look at PATS arrangements across all jurisdictions, with a view to putting forward to AHMAC later this year some options on how it might be made more consistent and potentially higher—

Senator ADAMS —Thank goodness for that. It would be very useful if that happened. I have written down the ‘local hospital networks and the Medicare Locals and thinking about boundaries’. Probably one of the biggest issues, as far as a national focus is concerned, is to get some consistency with state boundaries so that people who are living right on the edge of one state boundary can access specialist services much closer to home in the next state.

Mr Andreatta —Certainly the cross-border issue is one of the main issues in the discussions in that standing committee and we are looking at ways to solve that.

Senator ADAMS —I hope you are utilising this committee’s report.

Mr Andreatta —We are.

Senator ADAMS —And the recommendations.

Mr Andreatta —Absolutely.

Senator ADAMS —Just to remind you. I have one more, the National Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Program.

Mr Andreatta —With that program to date, three funding rounds have been conducted and in those funding rounds we have generated over 600 applications seeking approximately $170 million worth of grants. We are currently in the fourth round stage. It closed on 29 January 2010. We had 302 applications and they were worth $87 million. We are currently going through the assessment process for those 302 applications and we expect an announcement very shortly.

Senator ADAMS —All right, we will go back to ‘very shortly’ and ‘soon’. How long is ‘very shortly’?

Mr Andreatta —We believe—and ultimately it will be for the minister to decide—that this month an announcement will be made.

Senator ADAMS —That is very good, and it will be very good news for a few people that I know that have been pestering me saying, ‘What’s happening?’

Senator SIEWERT —I want to ask some general questions. How are these programs going to fit in with the new process in terms of local hospital area networks and the new Medicare Locals? Is it business as usual or is there a process where you are starting to integrate some of these programs and coordinate them through the new process?

Mr Andreatta —It is a bit early to tell what will happen with these programs with the introduction of the two networks. The first 15 Medicare Local networks will not commence until next year and I am not sure of the date for the commencement of the local hospital networks.

Senator SIEWERT —Yes, that is a bit further down the track.

Mr Andreatta —During the development of those two networks, I expect to be discussing how our rural programs would fit in there, but at this stage it is business as usual for us.

Senator SIEWERT —Do you expect that the funding for the programs is going to remain the same, so those programs will still exist but they will be coordinated in a different manner?

Ms Thompson —I think one of the positives that will come out of the introduction of Medicare Locals in regard to rural and remote communities is the ability to understand the needs and the required services in those local areas. We think that will work very well into the whole range of services that Rural Health provides at the moment.

Senator SIEWERT —Can you explain how you envisage the situation is going to be different to what it is now with Medicare Locals in terms of looking at what services are needed?

Ms Thompson —As I think was discussed yesterday, the whole concept of performance data and information will be available through Medicare Locals.

Senator SIEWERT —So you are going to use that?

Ms Thompson —Yes. It should fit very well into our understanding of what is needed in a rural or remote community. We believe it is positive and fits very well into the strategic framework of the rural health initiatives and the primary care strategy.

Senator SIEWERT —I am a little bit concerned that we do not lose the value of the programs that are running at the moment but that we do build the Medicare Locals process and the local health network process, so that we are value adding and do not end up with a nil sum gain in rural areas.

Ms Thompson —Yes, I understand. The representatives of rural organisations are fundamental to our consultation process around the introduction of Medicare Locals to ensure that we get that feedback and to ensure that it is more than a zero sum gain.

Senator SIEWERT —Thanks. Obviously it is early thinking. I will continue to follow that up because I think it is important that we add value to what we already have.

CHAIR —Thank you, Senator Siewert. That concludes questioning in outcome 6. Thank you to the officers.

[9.33 pm]

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —In relation to the Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi, is there a contingency plan to keep our athletes in Singapore, because of security concerns in New Delhi, and fly them in and out for events?

Mr Miller —I am not aware of any of those arrangements that are being made by the Commonwealth Games Association.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Those arrangements would be made by the Commonwealth Games Association?

Mr Miller —Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Would they be in consultation with you?

Mr Miller —No, they would not be in consultation with us, although we are working across the Australian government to support the Australian Commonwealth Games Association in respect of security issues that might be related to the upcoming games.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —You have obviously had discussions pertaining to a range of matters, including security.

Mr Miller —We are working with the Commonwealth Games Association on making sure they have adequate security measures in place and that they are in a position to make the most informed decision about whether to send the team.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Has there been any discussion about a contingency plan?

Mr Miller —I am not privy to any of the discussions about a contingency plan.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Minister, is there such a contingency plan?

Senator Ludwig —I can certainly take that on notice, but it would seem to be outside the general work of the Sports Commission.

Ms Halton —Mr Rowe, can give you a little information.

Mr Rowe —The issue of security for the Australian team is really a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney-General’s Department. As Mr Miller has just said, he is assisting those departments by communicating messages and information about security, but the security issues themselves are not matters that are dealt with in the portfolio.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Minister, given the particular circumstances here, could you take on notice whether there is a contingency plan to accommodate our athletes in Singapore and fly them in and out because of concerns in relation to security.

Senator Ludwig —Just so that no-one mistakes the question, I do not know of any. The security of athletes attending the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games is of course in everybody’s mind. It is of paramount importance to the Australian government. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, though, would deal with current travel warnings and those types of things.

The Australian Commonwealth Games Association, as the organisers of the 2010 Games, would be the organisation which would discuss the safety and security of athletes. While the decision on whether Australia will participate in the Delhi Commonwealth Games is made by the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, it is not the Australian government. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade works closely with the Commonwealth Games Association and national sporting organisations to help Australian athletes make informed decisions about their overseas travel plans.

The Australian government will continue to monitor the security situation in India and work with the Australian Commonwealth Games Association. It seems that the question you are asking is not really one for the Australian government; it would be one that you could put to the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I will rephrase my question. Is the government aware of a contingency plan? Given the government’s involvement—

Senator Ludwig —Where is the source of that story?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I am just asking whether you are aware.

Senator Ludwig —Did you make it up?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —No, I did not make it up.

Senator Ludwig —I was just wondering if there was a source.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —You have taken it on notice. If you are not aware, that is it, end of story. How many schools and out-of-school-hours care services are delivering the Active After-school Communities program?

Mr Miller —The number of schools is around 3,250, but I will get the exact number for you.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Do you have a breakdown of that by state?

Mr Miller —We will take that on notice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Do you have it broken down by areas?

Mr Miller —We can get all of that data. I do not have that information with me.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —By electorates?

Mr Miller —I am sure we could provide that information.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —In relation to this program, I notice that it says in the agency budget papers at page 553, ‘Increase opportunities to participate in sport’. Mr Miller, you were not here but Professor Bishop earlier today spoke in particular about issues dealing with obesity and how it was a very important health issue. I understand this program was introduced in about 2004 and has become very popular. Could you then explain to me why in 2009 the number of schools is 3,250 and in 2010 it is 3,270 but then that is it—the program seems to end. The program is ending?

Mr Miller —No, the program is not being terminated. In fact, consistent with the recommendations in the Crawford review report, the government is reviewing where it takes the program.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —What are the options?

Mr Miller —In fact, the program is funded until 31 December this year.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —So the intention is not to abolish it?

Mr Miller —That is a matter for the government.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Right. It certainly was a measure that was supported, I understand, in 2007. So at this point in time it is in limbo and we do not know where it is—

Senator Ludwig —No, it is not in limbo. The Active After-school Communities program is currently funded until 31 December 2010, so that does not put it in limbo and it is in line with the school calendar year. There has been no decision to end the program. The government is continuing to review the program in line with the Independent Sport Panel’s recommendations to do so. So there was an Independent Sports Panel, they made a recommendation and we are undertaking that process.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —The footnote says, ‘The government is considering the future of this program,’ which implies that one option could be to abolish it.

Senator Ludwig —That is not the advice that I have at this point. What I have said is that, clearly, it is funded until 31 December 2010, and the government is continuing to review the program in line with the Independent Sports Panel’s recommendation.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Okay. We might move on to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and your involvement in that. On the last occasion when we were here, on 10 February, I asked some questions in relation to the bid, and I think Mr Eccles was with us.

Ms Halton —And he is again tonight.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —He is again? Mr Eccles, there you are at the end.

Ms Halton —That cheerful little football enthusiast down the end of the table.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —On the last occasion we were talking about the bid and the commitment to the bid. Can you tell me how many employees of the department are attending the World Cup in South Africa?

Ms Halton —This is a sad number.

Mr Eccles —At this stage there is the potential for one.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —One, okay.

Ms Halton —Do you want to ask who that might be, Senator?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I do not think I need to ask.

Ms Halton —He has got his football boots strapped on as we speak.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —How many employees of the Australian Sports Commission will be attending?

Mr Miller —None.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —On the last occasion, Ms Halton, you told us how committed the Prime Minister was in supporting and making a bid for the World Cup.

Ms Halton —Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I would assume that the Prime Minister will be attending the World Cup. Is that the case?

Ms Halton —I cannot possibly answer for the Prime Minister.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Senator Ludwig?

Senator Ludwig —I do not know, Senator Fierravanti-Wells. I can inquire on your behalf.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I would have thought that, since the Prime Minister is so assiduously chasing his bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, this would be a very good opportunity for him—

CHAIR —It is very late to be making comments.

Senator Ludwig —That is not the circumstance. You have made a statement that is unsupported. Is there a question there?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I have just noticed the commitment that the government has made of $400 million in foreign aid to Africa by 2015. Given recent press statements, I would have thought that this could be a great opportunity for the Prime Minister to do a Quentin Bryce and visit Africa.

Senator Ludwig —Is there a question?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Will you take on notice whether the Prime Minister is going?

Senator Ludwig —I already have.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Thank you. I was going to ask whether the Prime Minister was going to be wearing a tracksuit, as Prime Ministers normally do, but I will not pursue that one.

Senator LUNDY —You are trying to score a point and it is not working!

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I want to ask a question in relation to the minister’s international travel since December 2007. Senator Mason has asked—and I will put these on notice for him—

Senator Ludwig —They may have to go to PM&C, if they were talking about—

Ms Halton —International travel, because we do not—

Senator Ludwig —the Prime Minister’s travel.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —No, these are talking about the Minister for Sport.

Senator Ludwig —I have got you.

Ms Halton —We are not responsible for international travel for our ministers.

Senator Ludwig —Yes. Those questions would normally be asked of PM&C or Finance.

Ms Halton —Finance.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —All right. I will get Senator Mason to put those questions—

Senator LUNDY —Put them on notice, please.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —There is a list of programs here that I have. Senator Mason wanted me to ask these questions in relation to total funding for a series of programs—over the forward estimates—and whether that was funding involving multiple governments and, if so, what the federal government’s contribution was. Is it better if I just simply tender that list and then you can take that on notice?

Ms Halton —I think so.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Could you also take on notice: if is funded by multiple federal government departments, what is this department’s funding contribution?

Ms Halton —Yes, happy to do that.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —And what is the number of staff positions allocated to the program et cetera. I will put those questions on notice. On the last occasion, I asked whether Mr Harvey and Mr Dixon had been engaged in relation to the bid for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. The answer provides those details. Are Mr Dixon and Mr Harvey still engaged in any way with the commission?

Ms Halton —They were not engaged with the commission. They were engaged in assisting the government—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Sorry, I beg your pardon. I meant are they engaged with the department?

Ms Halton —Yes, they are.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —They are still engaged with the department?

Ms Halton —Yes, they are, because the bid is still ongoing.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Could you take on notice the outline of what they are doing and the cost of their contract?

Ms Halton —Sure.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Thank you very much.

Ms Halton —I think, as I indicated last time, Mr Dixon is pro bono, obviously other than expenses, but I am happy to do that.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I may have a couple more questions, but perhaps if Senator Lundy—

CHAIR —Senator Lundy.

Senator LUNDY —Thank you, Chair. Can the Sports Commission outline what the government is doing to support the next generation of Australian Olympic champions, particularly with respect to the talent identification program?

Mr Miller —Yes. There is a doubling of effort proposed as part of the ‘pathways to success’ response to the Crawford review in respect of talent identification and development and the additional money that has been granted. That will be tendered, in addition to a review of the program and how it works within sporting organisations.

To broaden it beyond talent identification, though, I think it is also important to recognise that the government is doing a lot in respect of doubling its Local Sporting Champions program, which does provide an opportunity for particularly regional young Australians to grow their sporting prowess through attending various competitions domestically.

Senator LUNDY —Just going into a bit more detail about the talent identification program, how many sports now run a formal talent ID program?

Mr Miller —I am advised that there are 13.

Senator LUNDY —In terms of doubling that effort, does it mean that more sports are going to have talent ID programs or that you will expand the reach of those that already exist?

Mr Miller —We are still very much in the early and formative days of developing the absolute precise responses, but our early thinking is that we will be doubling the number of sports that would be involved in NTID, as we call it, to around 25, and they would have the opportunity to employ developmental staff et cetera within those national sporting bodies.

Senator LUNDY —Some years ago there was quite a bit of discussion about some of the benefits of talent identifying across sports, particularly looking at young people who may be excelling in one sport that lends itself to strong attributes in another. Is that being developed as part of this or has that developed over the last couple of years?

Mr Miller —I might ask one of my directors to add to it. I must say, one of the pleasing things that I have experienced in the 12 months I have been in this job is to see a number of examples where that exact thing has happened. I would particularly cite Carly Light, who won the Australian road cycling championships, who talent-transferred into cycling about 18 months before from equestrian. That is an example of where sports have benefited. Obviously some of the Winter Olympians as well have come out of other sports and gone on to great things, but I do not have any other details in respect of the numbers of athletes involved that are in that talent-transfer space.

Senator LUNDY —Will those talent ID programs continue to be run with a combination of the national sporting organisation, the state institutes and the Australian Institute of Sport providing support through testing, lab work et cetera?

Ms J Flanagan —Yes, all of those players are very integral to the talent identification pathway. The partnership that is being strengthened between the institutes will ensure that the pathways are as robust as they can be in that respect.

Senator LUNDY —Can you describe the changes resulting from the Crawford review and the government’s response to how we are supporting Olympic athletes?

Ms J Flanagan —As a result of the Crawford review and the government’s response to that review, there are a range of measures that are being developed and will be implemented to support our athletes in high performance across all areas, including Olympic sports. In particular, we will bolster the direct athlete support to the top athletes and filter that down further into the development pathway. We will be providing more support to recruit and retain our best coaches. Of course, the talent identification pathway is critical. Additionally, we will be providing more support to the daily training environment, through our service providers in sports science medicine, and also athlete career and education, particularly for further development of the athlete wellbeing area.

Senator LUNDY —What is the overall increase in this year’s budget to this important task?

Ms J Flanagan —For the high-performance component?

Senator LUNDY —Yes.

Ms J Flanagan —It is $30 million.

Senator LUNDY —How does that compare to the existing budget? What is the existing budget? I am trying to get the detail of the magnitude of the increase.

Mr Miller —The current budget is $159 million; so about 25 per cent.

Senator LUNDY —Significant. Very good.

Ms J Flanagan —Sorry, there is one other thing I did not mention. We are also providing more support for international competition for our athletes.

Senator LUNDY —Getting teams overseas?

Ms J Flanagan —Sending teams overseas, as well as strengthening our domestic national league competitions.

Senator LUNDY —What is going into the domestic national league competitions?

Ms J Flanagan —We will be providing support to two new sports on the Olympic agenda—rugby sevens and golf—and also bolstering support, particularly for our women’s national leagues, in a number of our sports.

Senator LUNDY —How will that support be provided?

Ms J Flanagan —Through additional revenue to market and brand the events, and obviously media coverage as well where possible.

Senator LUNDY —Do you envisage that that would result in a form of subsidisation of the media coverage of national competitions for women?

Ms J Flanagan —Yes.

Senator LUNDY —Similar to previous funding?

Ms J Flanagan —Obviously we have to consider the quantum, but we will try and allocate as a priority where we think it will have the most benefit for the sports.

Senator LUNDY —If a national women’s league believed they had a good case to approach the government for support, what would the process be?

Ms J Flanagan —With the new funding, we will be looking at a process whereby sports across the board will be able to put in a bid to access that funding, and we will assess it against a range of criteria, including their overall sports planning—the whole strategic planning.

Senator LUNDY —So you look at their strategic plan as a sport as well?

Ms J Flanagan —Yes.

Senator LUNDY —Is there a figure on the pool of funding that would be available for that purpose?

Ms J Flanagan —No. We are still working that out as we allocate the money.

Senator LUNDY —While we are on the issue of women’s sport, there have been some good results lately.

Mr Miller —You were not thinking of the Matildas, were you?

Senator LUNDY —I know. I am going to go straight there. The Southern Stars and the Matildas, of course.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Regrettably not in the not in the parliamentary arena, Senator Lundy.

Senator LUNDY —What’s that?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Our women’s parliamentary teams.

Senator LUNDY —Yes, but you do not play soccer. We do quite well in that department.

Ms Halton —I was going to ask last night, at the women’s thing down at the National Library, but I did not get the chance because we only had 10 minutes each—and now you have given me the opportunity—‘What is wrong with this photo?’ And the answer is: ‘It’s not on the front page.’

Senator LUNDY —It is on page 3.

CHAIR —That’s right. Exactly. Absolutely. If it had been a male sport, it would have been on the front page!

Ms Halton —It was not on the back page of the sports page and it was not on the front page. It was on page 62 in the Tele, so it is not even on the front or the back, which is where it should have been.

Senator LUNDY —It should. In fact, I understand this was the subject of a report commissioned by the department with regard to the portrayal of women’s sport in Australia. Ms Halton, perhaps you would care to outline some of the main findings of that committee, seeing you have begun that task already. You are quite right.

Ms Halton —My colleagues can do that. I have calmed down now, but I was quite irritated by that.

Senator LUNDY —It is a worthy observation to make, because of course one of the findings was that women’s sport still receives less than 10 per cent.

Ms Halton —Exactly.

Senator LUNDY —In some cases very small percentages of the proportion of coverage. We have already talked a little bit about a policy that will help change this by getting more women’s sport out there.

Ms Halton —Yes.

Senator LUNDY —What other things can be done from a public policy perspective, recognising of course that we are dealing with the free market and the media and various editorial decisions about what subject matter is covered and what is not? How will you make a difference?

Mr Miller —We have had that report that you alluded to.

Senator LUNDY —What is its proper title?

Mr Miller —It is Towards a level playing field: sport and gender in Australian media. We have a workshop scheduled in July, as a part of our Sporting Futures conference on the Gold Coast, to start to work through what practical things might be done to progress that report.

It is not just the media issue. As you would be aware, in the response to the Crawford review, there have been a range of initiatives promulgated in respect of advancing the cause of women in sport, particularly looking not just to improve the media coverage but to establish a new register of women in sport and to increase the leadership grants available for women. It is recognised that one of the ways we need to push that agenda is to get more women into senior roles in national sporting bodies, so there is a lot of focus there. The government also intends to establish a women in sports awards program. There are a range of things that the government is proposing to do to advance in a more generic sense the role of women’s sport. But it is early days in terms of some of the practical things in responding to the Towards a level playing field report.

Senator LUNDY —Does the Australian Sports Commission monitor the television ratings of women’s sport that is actually covered and broadcast on free-to-air TV?

Ms J Flanagan —No, we do not. However, having undertaken this research recently, we will be putting in place a mechanism to do more regular ongoing monitoring. We now have a great platform and the methodology to do that and we will ensure that that happens.

Senator LUNDY —That is excellent news. Will it be an annual survey?

Ms J Flanagan —Biennial.

Senator LUNDY —Excellent.

Mr Miller —The other thing I think is worth noting is that many national sporting organisations are taking up these issues in a proactive way and looking at how they can grow their businesses by increasing women’s participation in their sports. That is evident in some of their planning.

Senator LUNDY —Do you compile statistics of the proportion of women in the sports that the ASC provides funding for, that sort of thing—a gender based statistical analysis or trend growth?

Ms J Flanagan —In terms of actual senior management positions and board membership we do. In terms of participation rates, we rely on the sports to actually—

Senator LUNDY —This takes us to an interesting area, doesn’t it?

Ms J Flanagan —Yes, it does.

Senator LUNDY —Let’s go there. What can the Sports Commission do to get a more accurate picture of the participation levels across all age groups in the respective sports?

Ms J Flanagan —We are currently reviewing how we collect our statistical data for participation rates and we are working with our system partners in the state departments of sport and recreation and also the Australian Bureau of Statistics to look at a more robust methodology around collecting that data.

Senator LUNDY —You have anticipated where I was going next. Is it the Sports Commission’s role, or is it a role, because of the broader health implications of physical activity, better associated with another area of the health department in conjunction with stats, and how does sports participation relate to the physical activity population analysis, which I know we have struggled with as a statistical dataset for many years now as well?

Ms Halton —We had that conversation earlier on, Senator. I think you were here when we discussed the health survey. I was talking about my informant who I had been talking to about that particular survey. I know that that informant and my colleague Mr Miller here were having a conversation about exactly this issue today. The good thing is that the Bureau of Statistics is looking very much at how it can—I think the jargon would be—‘increase its footprint’, which in this context is particularly relevant: to look at both the health data and the sports data. There is a job of work to be done with the states in making sure that that is connected and unified and all the rest of it. But I can assure you that that is something that is being very actively looked at.

Senator LUNDY —That is good to hear. I certainly have an appreciation of the complexity of it. So much of Australians’ participation is not necessarily through organised sport anyway.

Ms Halton —Exactly.

Senator LUNDY —It is often swimming, walking or tennis that is not through a club.

Ms Halton —That is right.

Mr Miller —Could I add to the secretary’s comments. As she pointed out, there was some active discussion with state departments of sport and rec today. The other thing to note is that the government’s response to Crawford also envisages a new national sport and active recreation policy framework. One of the issues in that policy framework is clarifying the definitions around participation. That will be participation, obviously, in the active recreation space as well as the sports space. Existing datasets are fairly limited, certainly from our perspective, and that has been the subject of the work that we are doing within government with our colleagues in the Department of Health and Ageing, but also with the Australian Bureau of Statistics so that we do get more robust measures going forward.

Senator LUNDY —Thank you. You mentioned earlier the Local Sporting Champions program and an increase in numbers. Can you tell me how many people have benefited from that program and the level of investment that is now being made. What it is being lifted up to?

Mr Miller —It is my understanding that since the inception in 2008-09 the Local Sporting Champions program has provided financial support to almost 3,000 applicants. The investment, as a part of the ‘pathways to success’ response, will see a doubling of the amount of funding available under the program to $3.2 million per year—up from $1.6 million, I can only assume.

Ms J Flanagan —That is right.

Senator LUNDY —I presume this excellent decision has been based on the strong demand for the program. Will that mean that you are able to give bigger grants to young people looking for this assistance or will just more people receive the assistance? Is there a maximum to the grant?

Mr Miller —Yes, there is. The program does not envisage increased quantums per individual or team. It just envisages more people getting access to the funds.

Senator LUNDY —More people being supported, yes.

Ms J Flanagan —There is so much unmet demand for it.

Senator LUNDY —Did the program reach its cap? Was it fully expended and the demand was still there?

Ms J Flanagan —Yes, in the last financial year.

Senator LUNDY —Excellent. Just for the sake of completeness, can you give a brief outline to the committee about the purpose of that local sporting heroes grant and what it assists athletes to do.

Ms J Flanagan —It assists athletes to attend under-age competitions, at state or national level, and it can assist with paying for accommodation, any of the team or individual fees or transport, that sort of thing. It has been very well received by local families all around Australia. $500 makes a big difference to families and $3,000 for the teams also goes a long way.

Mr Miller —Could I add that the program this year is going to be expanded to include coaches, umpires and referees, not just athletes.

Senator LUNDY —Really?

Mr Miller —Yes.

Senator LUNDY —That is terrific. I know people personally whose kids have not been able to participate because of their socioeconomic circumstances. So, for what it is worth at that anecdotal level, this is making a real difference to whether or not kids, once selected in a team, are actually able to follow through and participate. What is the government doing with regard to asking athletes to give back to sport whilst they are on scholarships? So many athletes do. I know many who spend a huge amount of time in schools, in the community, working with disadvantaged kids et cetera, but what is built into the program of your scholarship athletes in this regard?

Ms J Flanagan —What we are instigating is, through their personal development training with the Athlete Career and Education program, a coaching and officiating training program. Some of the athletes will already have that, but if they do not they will be asked to participate in that and, as part of their community service requirements, to give back at a particular point in time to local community clubs in some shape or form.

Senator LUNDY —How do you monitor that? How do you keep an eye on that? How do you manage that?

Ms J Flanagan —We have got a very good education program with our athletes. They are very well attuned to participating in that from a personal development perspective and they are very keen to help, even in community service type arrangements—going out to disadvantaged areas et cetera. It is more about just fitting it in with their scheduling and making sure that we are realistic about what they can achieve, but they are very focused on, where possible, giving back. They understand what that means.

Senator LUNDY —What sort of response do you get from athletes? The ones I know do this sort of thing anyway, but I would imagine it is pretty positive.

Ms J Flanagan —It is very positive, and it is very positive for communities to see it. It is just a great thing for some of our top athletes and developing athletes to be out there at grassroots level or in the local community helping out.

Senator LUNDY —That is good. Going back to women’s sport, did the Sports Commission participate in the international women’s sport congress in Sydney recently?

Ms J Flanagan —Yes, it did. We were part of the organising group. We also gave a number of presentations as part of the conference and convened a number of side workshops.

Senator LUNDY —What was the take-out for the Sports Commission of that congress? Given that only occurs every 10 years or so and we were lucky enough to have one here in Australia, what is the legacy it is going to leave in the eyes of the Sports Commission?

Ms J Flanagan —One of the biggest legacies is the networking and the links that are made, nationally and internationally, between women in leadership positions and women looking to attain leadership positions and play a role in sport. What they learnt from each other was quite significant—the good as well as the bad—and already the communication channels have really opened up. From an Australian point of view, the access for Australian women to that level of conference has been very well received.

Senator LUNDY —Excellent. Going back to the direct athlete support, how many athletes are currently receiving direct athlete support and do you have any idea of changes to that as that program expands?

Ms J Flanagan —There are around 445 currently receiving support and that will increase to just over 620. The quantum of funding they receive will increase as well.

Senator LUNDY —By how much? I know it varies.

Ms J Flanagan —It does vary. Because sports allocate that, accordingly we are working on that.

Senator LUNDY —Yes. That is a significant percentage increase again. It is about another 30 per cent.

Mr Miller —Whilst the precise quantums are yet to be established, we can say that in the government’s response to Crawford it is envisaged that top three ranked athletes get significant increases in support, and the support is broader in that it goes to supporting, at some level, top eight or top 10 athletes.

Ms J Flanagan —And also, below that, some of our emerging athletes, our developing athletes.

Senator LUNDY —Refresh my memory. One of the issues with direct athlete support was that there was not enough funding to go around necessarily beyond the top athlete or the top two, so the policy change here is that the top three will get that support?

Ms J Flanagan —They will get the top level. There is further support to the top 10 and then there is more support down below that.

Senator LUNDY —The Crawford review and the positive response by the government placed an emphasis on supporting participation in sport, so not elite pathways but development pathways. How is that—making participation in a sport for fun and physical activity sustainable—manifesting itself as far as the actual policy or program by the Sports Commission?

Mr Miller —It is early days, but the primary way we will be pushing forward is in partnership with the state departments of sport and rec. In round figures, about $18 million per annum of the increased funding is directed towards improving participation. That is going to be across a range of areas, but the primary strategy is to get national sporting organisations to embed participation plans as part of their overall strategic planning for their sport and then to work through their state bodies down to the clubs to strengthen across the entire pathway. The key focus is strategic investment through the national sporting organisations to get them attuned to the notion of having strategic participation plans as well as high-performance plans. To date, they have tended to focus more on the high performance.

Senator LUNDY —I am very pleased to hear that. From a public policy perspective, it has been a long time coming. I think it comes down to providing the leadership and emphasis on the value of participation per se and I would like to commend you for that direction. I think it was a great outcome of the review.

Mr Miller —Thank you.

Ms J Flanagan —Additionally, embedded within that are a number of strategies for particular population groups and also for children, particularly with our sport and education strategy which we are supporting DoHA and DEEWR in developing, and also our volunteer strategy and social inclusion strategy.

Senator LUNDY —What about Indigenous participation in sport?

Ms J Flanagan —That falls into the social inclusion strategy. We are currently, with our partners in DoHA and the states, looking at the whole Indigenous sport and active recreation area to ensure that we can provide a better coordinated and aligned support mechanism for Indigenous people.

Senator LUNDY —Is there a program or a source of grants within the Sports Commission for the kinds of programs that evolve out of communities, prove to be successful, might not necessarily be effectively replicated everywhere, but are working for that community? How do you support those kinds of almost one-off success stories, whether they are in Indigenous communities or others?

Ms J Flanagan —At the local level that does fall into the realm of the states. However, what we are trying to do in a better partnership model with the states is have a repository of case studies and things that are working well so that we can use that when we are advising and working with our sports on how to best get community outcomes.

Senator LUNDY —Finally—because I could just keep asking questions all night, but I should defer to my colleagues—on facilities funding: I know there is facilities funding that comes from a range of sources. Is the Sports Commission involved in facilities funding at all?

Mr Rowe —The management of facilities funding is handled by the department rather than the commission.

Senator LUNDY —That is what I thought. Is there facilities funding allocated in this budget?

Mr Rowe —No, Senator.

Senator LUNDY —Thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you. Senator Fierravanti-Wells.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Thank you. Mr Eccles, I am curious: what happens after July? Does that mean that you hang up your boots and Ms Halton finds another job for you somewhere?

Ms Halton —I will find him another job, Senator. Don’t you worry about that!

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Okay.

Mr Eccles —But my boots will remain well and truly secured until 2 December at least. On 2 December, FIFA will make the call as to the successful bidding nations for 2018 and 2022.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —So your role of football World Cup task force is not just what is happening now?

Mr Eccles —No. The football World Cup that is being played in South Africa over the next month or so is separate to the bidding process that Football Federation Australia is going through. They are bidding for either the 2018 or the 2022 world cup, and that decision will be made in early December.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —What other major sporting events is the Sports Commission attending or participating in over the next 12 months?

Mr Miller —My understanding is that it would be normal for the commission to attend the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. That would be the only event that I would—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —How many people will be going from the commission? What is the contingent?

Mr Miller —No decision has been made. It will be one or two at the most.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —If I have understood it, Mr Miller, your average staffing level for 2009-10 is 744.

Mr Miller —What page are you referring to?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I am on page 548.

Mr Miller —Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —That goes down to 639.

Mr Miller —Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Could you explain that drop to me.

Mr Miller —That drop reflects the half-year impact of the loss of staff from the AASC program. The AASC program—the Active After-school Communities program—has only been funded until December, so half of the year’s FTE is reflected in that drop.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I understand. Your departmental expenses are $60 million or thereabouts.

Mr Miller —No, it is more than that. It is about $248 million.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —That has gone up from $223 million in 2009.

Mr Miller —Yes.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I noticed in your last annual report that there is a section on grants. There is what I assume is a domestic component, an Australian component, and then there is an overseas component. Could you tell me what your overseas component is.

Mr Miller —I will get one of my directors that has responsibility for this program to talk to it, but primarily I think the question you are asking relates to the work that we do in conjunction with AusAID and our Australian Sports Outreach Program, where we deliver sports development activities in a range of international jurisdictions.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Has that been happening for some years?

Mr Miller —My understanding is that that is the case, but Mr Nance will be able to provide further commentary on that.

Mr Nance —Yes. The Australian Sports Outreach Program has effectively been doubled in the last couple of years in terms of its reach. It is up to around $4 million a year. It reaches out into a number of countries in the Pacific region, Southern Africa and the Caribbean.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Under the heading ‘Increase opportunities to participate in sport’ at page 551, I got the impression from questions that you answered for Senator Lundy that the establishment of women in sport awards was a new initiative for the next financial period.

Mr Miller —Correct.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Do I assume that ‘Strategic partnerships established with key stakeholders to plan and implement community sports development programs in the Pacific, Asia, Southern Africa and Caribbean regions’ falls into that same category?

Mr Miller —Being new?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Yes.

Mr Miller —My understanding is that they are existing programs and we will continue to deliver those programs.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —So there has been an increase in funding? You have gone from what to what?

Mr Miller —There is no increase in funding for that particular program for 2010-11.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —So why are there increased opportunities? I am trying to understand whether we have more partnerships with the Pacific, Asia, Southern Africa and Caribbean regions.

Mr Miller —I cannot see where it says ‘increased opportunities’.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —At the bottom, in the last box on the left-hand side.

Mr Miller —It says:

Agreements in place within agreed timeframes with partner countries in regions—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Just left of that. I got the impression from what you said to Senator Lundy before that these are increased opportunities and that was a new program—and ‘strategic partnerships’ underneath it. Are you saying they are new—

Ms Halton —No.

Mr Miller —No, they are ongoing.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —partnerships or the extension of an existing partnership?

Mr Miller —They are continuing.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —So where is the increase?

Mr Miller —The establishment of women in sport awards is a new initiative. It says:

National sporting organisations implement inclusion—

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —I can read that, Mr Miller, but I want to know where the increase is in the ‘strategic partnerships established’, which is in that fourth box at the bottom. What is the component of increase there? What extra things are we doing in the Pacific, Asia, Southern Africa and Caribbean regions that warrant them to be included in ‘increase opportunities’?

Mr Nance —The programs take a period of time to establish. Some of them were started four years ago, and they are ongoing. As the funding was increased in previous years, the cut-in to develop the programs occurs over a period of time. So in this next year there will be increased opportunities for those existing programs as they roll out.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —What extra are we actually doing on the ground? I am interested in the areas.

Mr Nance —What extra are we doing on the ground?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Yes. What does it actually mean?

Mr Nance —The increase in funding in previous financial years has basically doubled the amount of money available and doubled the reach into the Pacific countries. You are dealing with a small number of countries to start off with, three or four, and it is now reaching into six or seven. The countries that you are looking at are small Pacific island nations: Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —What about Asia?

Mr Nance —India came in last year, late in the piece—South Asia. There are no specific Asian countries targeted in the program.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —What about Southern Africa?

Mr Nance —In Southern Africa there is one program in South Africa, working in a township there. It is a small-scale program that has been around for several years.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —And in the Caribbean?

Mr Nance —That is a similar program with a partner agency in Trinidad. It works through an NGO there and has remained constant for a number of years.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —In terms of your departmental expenses, could you tell me what component of that is travel?

Mr Miller —I will have to take that on notice.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS —Thank you. I think that covers my questions, thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you very much. Thank you to the officers from outcome 15. We appreciate your time. Thank you, Ms Halton, for your staff and their activities for the last two days. Happy birthday, Mr Learmonth! Thank you, Minister.

Senator Ludwig —Thank you, Chair, and thank you, committee members.

CHAIR —Thank you, Hansard. We now stand adjourned until tomorrow at 8.30 when we do Indigenous programs.

Committee adjourned at 10.28 pm