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Annual Report - Appendix 9: Portfolio Governance
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Appendix 9 – Portfolio Governance


Cooperation between the Department and the portfolio agencies in 2005-06 has been fundamental to the implementation of the Australian Government’s response to the recommendations arising from the Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders (the Uhrig Review) by Mr John Uhrig AC.

Thirteen portfolio agencies or statutory office holders were subject to individual reviews under the Uhrig governance principles with the aim of establishing a consistent approach to accountability and reporting arrangements, and clarifying roles of the portfolio agencies and the Department in relation to the Minister.

In 2005-06, the Australian Government made decisions on the future governance of seven portfolio agencies, taking into account the outcomes of reviews undertaken by the Department. The Department of Finance and Administration and the portfolio agencies were consulted as part of the review process.

The Australian Government decided that the existing governance arrangements for five of these agencies continue to provide both effective governance and appropriate accountability for Australian Government budget allocations. These agencies are the:
  • Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency;
  • National Blood Authority;
  • Gene Technology Regulator;
  • National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme; and
  • General Practice Education and Training Ltd.

For two other agencies, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the National Institute of Clinical Studies Ltd (NICS), new governance arrangements will be established under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) and the Public Service Act 1999.

The Australian Government decided in early 2005-06 to establish the NHMRC as a financially independent statutory agency from 1 July 2006 by prescribing it under the FMA Act. Under the new arrangements, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the head of the agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999. The CEO is responsible for staffing arrangements, and is directly accountable for expenditure under the FMA Act.

The new governance arrangements provide for clearer lines of accountability and reporting by the CEO as head of the agency to the portfolio Minister.

The Department managed the amendment of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 in June 2006 to reflect the new governance arrangements. Under the amended Act, the agency continues to be responsible for raising the standard of individual and public health, by fostering health and medical research and training, and by monitoring ethical issues relating to health throughout Australia.

The Australian Government also decided that NICS, an Australian Government company, be incorporated into the NHMRC in 2007. These new arrangements should strengthen the translation of research findings into improvements to health care practice. An Australian Government decision on the final operational structure will be determined in 2006-07.

Final decisions on governance arrangements for the remaining six portfolio agencies will be made in 2006-07, taking into account Australian Government decisions on broader policy matters pertinent to those agencies. The agencies are the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Ltd, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, and the Professional Services Review.

The Department managed the establishment of a new portfolio agency, Cancer Australia, in late 2005-06. The new agency will guide improvements in prevention, provide support to consumers and health professionals and make recommendations to the Australian Government about cancer policy and priorities. It has been established as a statutory authority under the Cancer Australia Act 2006. Cancer Australia is led by a CEO subject to the FMA Act, and supported by an Advisory Council.

The Department also made progress managing the establishment of the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Authority. The bi-national Authority will replace the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and New Zealand's Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority. It is anticipated that the Authority will commence operations in late 2007.

In 2005-06, the Department was actively involved in a number of significant corporate governance and performance monitoring activities in the portfolio. This included managing the financial monitoring role for small portfolio agencies as required under the Australian Government’s review of the Budget Estimates Framework.

Portfolio Agencies


The Department pursued the achievement of the portfolio’s outcomes in 2005-06 in association with a number of other agencies in the portfolio. These agencies, which are discussed below, produce their own annual report.

Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Limited

Telephone: (02) 9633 1711 Internet: www.accreditation.org.au

The Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Limited (the Agency) was established as a wholly owned Australian Government company limited by guarantee, and incorporated in October 1997. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and the Corporations Act 2001.
Functions

Under the Aged Care Act 1997, all aged care homes must meet an accreditation requirement to be eligible to receive residential care subsidy. While the Department pays the residential care subsidy, it is the Agency that decides whether or not to accredit a home. The primary functions of the Agency are to:

  • manage the residential aged care accreditation process using the Accreditation Standards;
  • promote high quality care and help industry to improve service quality by identifying best practice and providing information, education and training to industry;
  • monitor ongoing compliance within the Accreditation Standards; and
    liaise with the Department about homes that do not meet the Accreditation Standards.

During 2005-06, the Agency contributed to the Department's Outcome 3 - Aged Care and Population Ageing.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • At the end of June 2006 there were 2,937 accredited homes, and 96 per cent of homes were fully compliant with the 44 expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards. Of the accredited homes, 93 per cent were awarded three years or more accreditation.
  • Conducted education and information sharing activities including Better Practice seminars in all states and territories and Quality Education on the Standards seminars. Over 9,400 staff in 830 homes attended the seminars.
  • Published The Standard newsletter on a monthly basis and expanded the 'for assessors' section on the Agency's web site.
  • Updated self-directed learning packages and reprinted the Pocket Guide to the Accreditation Standards.
  • Maintained the Agency's certification to the Australian quality standard (ISO 9001:2000).
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Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Telephone: (02) 6244 1000 Internet: www.aihw.gov.au

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is a statutory authority established under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and is a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999.
Functions

The primary functions of the AIHW relate to the collection and production of health-related and welfare-related information and statistics. The AIHW:

  • identifies and meets the information needs of governments and the community to enable them to make informed decisions to improve the health and welfare of Australians;
  • provides authoritative and timely information and analysis to the Australian, State and Territory governments and non-government clients through the collection, analysis and dissemination of national health, community services and housing assistance data; and
  • develops, maintains and promotes, in conjunction with stakeholders, information standards for health, community services and housing assistance.

The AIHW promotes and puts into the public domain the results of its work.

During 2005-06, the AIHW contributed to its own specific Outcome 1 - Better health and wellbeing for Australians through better health and welfare statistics and information.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Remained consistent with its Mission - Better health and welfare for Australians, through providing better health and welfare statistics.
  • Continued to provide statistics and information services to support the work of the Department.
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Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency

Telephone: (02) 9541 8333 Internet: www.arpansa.gov.au

The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is a statutory office holder established under the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (the ARPANS Act). ARPANSA is prescribed under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and is a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999.
Functions

The main objective of ARPANSA, under the ARPANS Act, is to protect the health and safety of people, and to protect the environment, from the harmful effects of radiation. ARPANSA:

  • is a resource of knowledge about ionizing and non-ionizing radiation;
    has a leading role in measuring radiation, researching the health effects of radiation exposure, and translating this knowledge into developing standards, guidelines and codes of practice;
  • provides information and advice to the Australian Government, the Parliament and the Australian public;
  • provides some radiation protection services;
  • learns about international best practice in radiation protection and nuclear safety, and contributes to international deliberations ensuring that Australia's interest and priorities are appropriately reflected;
  • promotes national uniformity in radiation protection and nuclear safety in states and territories on major radiation issues such as the security of radioactive sources, emergency response and the safety of radioactive waste management; and
  • is responsible for regulating all radiation and nuclear activities undertaken by Australian Government entities.

During 2005-06, ARPANSA contributed to the achievement of its own specific Outcome 1 - The Australian people and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of radiation.

Key Achievements for 2005-06

  • Established assessment and analysis teams to assist the states to respond to radiological emergencies.
  • Conducted the assessment of the application for the operating licence for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Open Pool Australian Light-Water research Reactor and Compliance with the construction licence.
  • Published the Code of Practice and Safety Guide for Radiation Protection and Radioactive Waste Management in Mining and Mineral Processing and the Code of Practice and Safety Guide for Radiation Protection in Dentistry.
  • Developed a new operations management system and database to enable the Personal Radiation Monitoring Service to continue to provide effective monitoring of occupational doses of ionizing radiation.

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Cancer Australia

Cancer Australia is a statutory authority established under the Cancer Australia Act 2006. It is prescribed under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and is a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999.
Functions

Cancer Australia's main function is to provide strategic leadership in cancer care by bringing together key cancer organisations. It is accountable to the Minister for Health and Ageing and will:

  • provide national leadership in cancer control;
  • guide improvements to cancer prevention and care, to ensure treatment is scientifically based;
  • coordinate and liaise with a wide range of groups and providers with an interest in cancer;
  • make recommendations to the Australian Government about cancer policy and priorities; and
  • oversee a dedicated budget for research into cancer.

Cancer Australia has its own specific Outcome 1 - National consistency in cancer prevention and care that is scientifically based. This Outcome came into operation on 1 July 2006.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Establishment of Cancer Australia in May 2006.
  • Appointment of the Cancer Australia Advisory Council.
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Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Telephone: (02) 6271 2222 Internet: www.foodstandards.gov.au - www.foodstandards.govt.nz

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is a bi-national statutory authority established under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991. It is based on a partnership between the Australian, State and Territory, and New Zealand governments. FSANZ is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and is a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999.
Functions

FSANZ’s core function is to develop, vary or review food standards, whether from application from an outside body or on its own initiative. In Australia, FSANZ develops food standards to cover the whole of the food supply chain, ‘from paddock to plate’, for both the food manufacturing industry and primary producers. Other functions of FSANZ include:

  • coordinating the surveillance of food available in Australia in consultation with State and Territory governments;
  • conducting research and surveys in consultation with State and Territory governments;
  • coordinating the recall of food;
  • providing advice on the assessment of imported food;
  • developing codes of practice;
  • food safety education; and
  • providing advice to the Minister for Health and Ageing and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing on matters related to food.

During 2005-06, FSANZ contributed to its own specific Outcome 1 – A safe food supply and well-informed consumers.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Made significant progress on the development of a health claims standard and on regulatory measures for mandatory fortification of certain foods with folic acid and iodine.
  • Finalised new requirements for country of origin labelling of foods.
  • Drafted food safety standards for the poultry meat and dairy industries.
  • Took the first steps towards overhauling administrative practices to provide the food industry with a more certain and faster means of amending the Food Standards Code.
  • In collaboration with regulatory partners, played a key role in developing A Strategy for Consistent Implementation of Food Regulation in Australia, which includes an annual survey plan.
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General Practice Education and Training Limited

Telephone: (02) 6263 6777 Internet: www.agpt.com.au

General Practice Education and Training Limited (GPET) was established as a wholly owned Australian Government company limited by guarantee, and incorporated in March 2001. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and Corporations Act 2001.
Functions

GPET’s primary function is to manage, promote, monitor and evaluate a national system of regionalised general practice (GP) education and vocational training across Australia on behalf of the Australian Government. GPET’s statement Outcomes of Regionalisation – Regional Training Providers Objectives details expectations in relation to business, training, innovation and performance for regional training providers. GPET:

  • operates the regionalised system known as Australian General Practice Training (AGPT). This system aims to be responsive to the existing and changing needs of the community, including individual sections of the community, and to produce doctors who are capable of meeting community needs across Australia, in particular those of rural and remote Australia;
  • encourages vertical and horizontal integration of education and training resources at a regional level and works with the professional colleges to ensure that AGPT is strategic and meets professional standards; and
  • aims to position AGPT as a world leader in general practice education and training, and provides strategic advice to the Australian Government accordingly.

During 2005-06, GPET contributed to the Department’s Outcome 4 – Primary Care.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • The number of GP registrars in training reached historically high levels, peaking at more than 2,000. The number of GPs entering training in January 2006 was the highest since 1998 (approximately 560), despite increasing competition from other medical specialties. This reflects the success of the regionalised training program and GPET’s operations.
  • Implementation of the Remote Outreach Vocational Education program for overseas trained doctors, to provide greater support and training to international medical graduates working in areas of medical service need.
  • Trained an increased number of registrars in outer metropolitan locations around Australia.
  • Provided the Enhanced Rural Training Framework to an increased number of registrars requiring support to prepare for rural practice.
  • Completed the accreditation of all 22 regional training providers under its Quality Framework as part of the review and accreditation program.
  • Awarded 21 contracts, consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines, for delivery of regionalised GP training for 2007-09.
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National Blood Authority

Telephone: (02) 6211 8300 Internet: www.nba.gov.au

The National Blood Authority (NBA) is a statutory authority established under the National Blood Authority Act 2003. It is prescribed under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and is a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999.
Functions

The primary function of the NBA is to manage and coordinate Australia's blood supply on behalf of all Australian governments in accordance with the National Blood Agreement. The NBA does this by:

  • working collaboratively with the Australian Government and State and Territory governments and other key stakeholders to ensure that Australia's blood supply is adequate, safe, secure and affordable;
  • negotiating, entering into and managing national blood and blood products supply contracts; and
  • providing advice and information to the Minister for Health and Ageing and the Australian Health Ministers' Conference through the Jurisdictional Blood Committee.

During 2005-06, the NBA contributed to its own specific Outcome 1 - Australia's blood supply is secure and well managed.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Negotiated and implemented a range of new contracts for the provision of key blood products (including recombinant products for hemophiliacs' treatments) for consumers with financial savings to governments.
  • Managed the supply of blood and blood products to the satisfaction of all jurisdictions.
  • Negotiated contracts with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS).
  • Finalised a Strategic Capital Investment Plan with the ARCBS.
  • Completed the report Information Systems Infrastructure and Knowledge Management which analysed the inter-relationship between the NBA and the sector in terms of data and information needs.
  • Commenced a number of initiatives to improve the effectiveness and appropriateness of blood use in Australia.
  • Created the NBA Fellows program to obtain advice and input from eminent clinical specialists. Made submissions to and provided advice and input to the Plasma Fractionation Review.
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National Institute of Clinical Studies Limited

Telephone: (03) 8866 0400 Internet: www.nicsl.com.au

The National Institute of Clinical Studies Limited (NICS) was established as a wholly owned Australian Government company limited by guarantee, and incorporated in December 2000. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 and Corporations Act 2001.
Functions

The main function of NICS is to improve health care in Australia by helping to close important gaps between best available evidence and current clinical practice. NICS does this by:

  • leading and supporting clinicians in finding and applying evidence to close gaps;
  • developing the knowledge base for the science and practice of evidence implementation; and
  • advocating for systemic change to improve the use of evidence in clinical practice.

During 2005-06, NICS contributed to the Department's Outcome 9 - Health System Capacity and Quality.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Established an Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Cochrane Review Group in Australia.
  • Negotiated the renewal of the national license for the Cochrane Library, ensuring all Australians have free access to the best health care evidence.
  • Launched a national Venous Thromboembolism Prevention Program, which will save lives by helping hospitals take a more systematic approach to assessing and managing patients at risk of developing life threatening blood clots.
  • Implemented the FightFLU campaign to increase vaccination rates. Every GP, practice nurse and pharmacist in Australia received the NICS FightFLU kit. An educational web site was launched and media awareness campaign conducted.
  • Trained 1,400 health care professionals in evidence implementation.
  • The Fellowship program, which is sponsored by NICS, produced its first graduate.
  • Conducted through its Community of Practice program, a project to improve the timeliness and quality of mental health care in emergency departments, through the use of evidence, in 41 hospitals nationally.
  • Participation of over 60 per cent of public hospitals with more than 100 beds in NICS’s ‘implementing evidence to improve patient care’ programs.
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Private Health Insurance Administration Council

Telephone: (02) 6215 7900 Internet: www.phiac.gov.au

The Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) is a statutory authority, established under the National Health Act 1953. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.
Functions

The main functions and powers of PHIAC are to:

  • develop, implement, and monitor compliance with the Solvency and Capital Adequacy Standards, to ensure that private health insurers remain prudentially sound;
  • administer the Health Benefits Reinsurance Trust Fund;
  • undertake the supervisory functions in relation to Registered Health Benefits Organisations (RHBOs), including the appointment of inspectors and administrators;
  • approve the registration, de-registration and merger of RHBOs;
  • approve the voluntary winding up of a RHBO;
  • collect and disseminate financial and statistical data, including tabling of an annual report to Parliament on the operations of RHBOs;
  • levy RHBOs for the general administrative costs of the PHIAC and the Acute Care Advisory Committee;
  • produce membership and coverage statistics quarterly. These statistics detail the proportion of the population with private health insurance. The gap statistics provide information about the out-of-pocket costs and availability of no-gap cover to consumers with private health insurance;
  • report on the 30 per cent Rebate annually; and
  • collect and disseminate information about private health insurance to allow consumers to make informed choices about the product.

During 2005-06, PHIAC contributed to its own specific Outcome 1 - The prudential safety of registered private health insurance funds, the best interests of members of those funds, and a competitive level of private health insurance premiums, are efficiently regulated to support a viable industry.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Expanded its program for the review of RHBOs and continued to work with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority to undertake reviews of the larger private health insurance organisations.
  • Updated and reprinted the consumer information brochure Insure? Not Sure? and made it available for distribution by all RHBOs.
  • Released to the industry, a discussion paper on the development of corporate governance guidelines for the private health insurance industry.
  • Produced the fund financial condition report on the operations of the fund.
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Private Health Insurance Ombudsman

Telephone: (02) 8235 8777 (Administration) 1800 640 695 (Inquiries and Complaints) Internet: www.phio.org.au

The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) is a statutory office holder (who is a Corporation with perpetual succession) established under Part VIC of the National Health Act 1953. The PHIO is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.
Functions

The main functions of the PHIO are to:

  • deal with complaints regarding private health insurance arrangements;
  • investigate the procedures and practices of health funds;
  • make recommendations to the Minister for Health and Ageing and the Department about private health insurance regulatory and industry practices;
  • produce and publish the State of the Health Funds Report providing comparative information on the performance and service delivery of all registered organisations; and
  • distribute independent information on private health insurance for consumers including the Private Patients' Hospital Charter.

During 2005-06, the PHIO contributed to its own specific Outcome 1 – Consumers and providers have confidence in the administration of private health insurance.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Published the second annual State of the Health Funds Report, including individual performance reports for all funds.
  • Completed a review and redesign of consumer information products about private health insurance, including the PHIO web site.
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Professional Services Review

Telephone: (02) 6120 9100 Internet: www.psr.gov.au

The Director of the Professional Services Review (PSR) Scheme is a statutory office holder established under the Health Insurance Act 1973. PSR is prescribed under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and is a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999.
Functions

The main functions of the PSR are to:

  • undertake the examination of health practitioners’ conduct to ascertain whether or not they have practised inappropriately in relation to services that attract Medicare (or Pharmaceutical) benefits. It covers services provided and/or initiated by medical and dental practitioners, optometrists, and medical services initiated by chiropractors, physiotherapists, and podiatrists; and
  • review cases requested by Medicare Australia of suspected inappropriate practice. The Director conducts the review and may inquire into any services claimed during the review period. After the review, the Director may dismiss a request, negotiate an agreement, or establish a committee of professional peers to further investigate the practitioner's conduct.

    If a committee finds inappropriate practice, the Determining Authority comprising three independent persons, decides the sanctions to be imposed (including reprimand, counselling, repayment of Medicare benefits and full and/or partial suspension from access to Medicare benefits for up to three years). For a negotiated agreement to become effective it must be ratified by the Determining Authority.

During 2005-06, PSR contributed to its own specific Outcome 1 - Australians are protected from meeting the cost and associated risks of inappropriate practices of health service providers.

Key Achievements for 2005-06
  • Achieved significant outcomes despite a second year of an 80 per cent reduction in requests from Medicare Australia.
  • Participated in the Review of the Professional Services Review Scheme.
  • Successfully negotiated with persons under review to enter into agreements resulting in a significant increase in the amount of Medicare benefits repaid to the Australian Government through Medicare Australia.
  • Published A Report to the Professions which outlined the operation of the Scheme and included details of cases where inappropriate practice had been found by a PSR Committee. The report received considerable support across the medical community.

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