2003 Sidney Sax Medallist - Professor Stephen Duckett

Professor Duckett has made an outstanding contribution in the field of health services policy, organisation, delivery and research. His achievements in, and contribution to, the development and improvement of the Australian health care system and health policy are outstanding.

Professor Duckett’s commitment to policy leadership in the health sector spans more than 20 years. He is respected nationally and internationally as a leader in health policy. Professor Duckett also has a long-standing commitment to high quality teaching and research in health-related fields and he is a well known and sought after commentator on a range of health policy issues.

An economist with a PhD in Health Administration, Professor Duckett is currently Professor of Health Policy, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health Developments) at LaTrobe University in Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Health Service Executives.

As well as his academic career, Professor Duckett has also had a distinguished bureaucratic career, culminating in the position of Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health. In this role he held statutory responsibility for a range of policy areas including health insurance, aged care, children's services, disability services, drug regulation, public health and research.

He encouraged innovative policy solutions and a new approach to Commonwealth-State relations in public health in Australia based on negotiated performance targets.

He set standards to improve accountability to the public and Parliament by an increased emphasis on open and honest evaluation of programs, development of performance indicators and public reporting on those.

Over the course of his career so far, Professor Stephen Duckett has contributed significantly to the transformation of health services nationally, particularly in Victoria. His major initiatives include the implementation of casemix funding for public hospitals, for which he earned himself the title of ‘Captain Casemix’, and the recent reconfiguration of the Victorian public health sector.

Professor Duckett has continued to lobby for improvements to health service governance and for greater accountability by Boards of Directors for the safety and quality of health services.

Professor Duckett was nominated by Bayside Health, a large Victorian Metropolitan Health Service. He has been Chair of the Board of Directors of Bayside Health since it was first established in June 2000 and was recently reappointed for a further 3-year term.

He has emphasised that the key to quality management is the development of a culture of openness and innovation within each health care organisation and that this culture is necessary to sustain an environment where, should adverse events occur, they are reported and analysed to minimise the risk of similar events occurring in the future.

In addition to his own research, his conference and committee participation and his extensive list of publications in health policy, Professor Duckett has fostered research related to health policy within his own university, nationally and internationally over many years. His influence continues to be far reaching.

Professor Duckett’s contribution to the fields of health services policy, organisation, delivery and research have been outstanding and he is a worthy recipient of the 2003 Sidney Sax Medal in recognition of his past and ongoing work.