Strategic vision and genuine consultation essential to improving the health and wellbeing of Australians

Thursday, June 25, 2015

“There is a burning need for strategic vision and genuine consultation from the Australian Government and its health portfolio if we are to achieve a healthy and productive Australia with healthy contributing citizens.”

Commenting on the release of the second interim report of the Australian Senate Select Committee on Health, Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) welcomed the Senate report and reiterated her call for a genuine stakeholder partnership to inform the Australian Government’s reform agenda.

“Any reform in primary healthcare, public hospitals and the health system more broadly must be done in genuine partnership with all levels of government, health service providers, health researchers, consumers and the broader health community. And a key focus must be on maintaining and improving the health status of all Australians.”

The Government’s approach has been to propose cuts to expenditure, establish price signals and shift costs to patients, states and territories, and providers in an ad hoc manner, which end up reversed or modified in the face of public backlash.

“The Australian Government has yet to put forward a strategic vision of the Australian health system backed up with articulated policy. There has been a compendium of measures that are aimed at cutting dollars from the health budget but are subsequently reversed. We need from the Government a very clear and strategic vision articulated so that health stakeholders can respond appropriately.”

The Australian health system must be funded with a view to the long term benefits of a well-functioning and well-funded universal health system. Investing in preventive measures is one way of reducing future fiscal pressures while also improving the wellbeing of all Australians. In particular with stakeholders and clarification as to where cuts will be made to programs supported by flexible funds is essential.

“An investment in preventive health today provides a long term payoff in both the wellbeing of Australians and the Budget bottom line,” said Ms Verhoeven.

A focus on efficiency is also a practical and sensible approach to addressing sustainability of the healthcare system than shifting costs and increasing out-of-pocket expenses.

“Reforms should focus on improving effectiveness, efficiency, and value-for-money rather than shifting costs,” said Ms Verhoeven. “A more strategic and consultative approach to health policy would be of benefit to the health system, and the health and wellbeing of Australians.”


The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, community and primary healthcare services, and advocates for universal, high quality and affordable healthcare to benefit the whole community.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501