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Annual Report - Appendix 9: Staffing Information
Appendix 1Appendix 2Appendix 3Appendix 4Appendix 5Appendix 6Appendix 7Appendix 8Appendix 9Appendix 10Appendix11

APPENDIX 9 - PORTFOLIO GOVERNANCE



The Department is committed to strengthening its relationship with portfolio agencies through the facilitation of consultative forums such as the Portfolio Chief Executive Officers (PCEOs) meeting. The Secretary and the PCEOs met on several occasions during 2004-05 to share information and discuss key issues in the Health and Ageing portfolio.

The Department implemented two protocols in 2004-05 to further improve communication and the relationship between the Department and the portfolio agencies: one outlining the relationship between the Department and the agencies; and the other setting out the process for appointments to portfolio agency boards and CEO positions. The relationship protocol embeds an open line of communication between the Department and the agencies. The appointment protocol outlines a new appointment process to be used for appointments to governance positions for portfolio agencies. The protocol provides for a consistent approach to the management of appointments and the process by the Department.

The Department was also actively involved in a number of significant corporate governance and performance monitoring activities in the portfolio, including:
  • implementing the Government’s response to the Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders by Mr John Uhrig. This includes the assessment of portfolio agencies and statutory office holders against the templates recommended by Mr Uhrig and the implementation of the other Uhrig recommendations supported by the Government;
  • maintaining regular contact with portfolio agencies to assist in establishing sound corporate governance and financial practices;
  • successfully managing the transfer of the Health Insurance Commission to the new Department of Human Services;
  • managing the financial monitoring role for small portfolio agencies as required under the Government’s review of the Budget Estimates Framework;
  • reviewing, as appropriate, the establishment or restructure of portfolio agencies; and
  • completing appointments and providing advice on remuneration matters to statutory authorities, statutory office holders and other bodies within the portfolio. The Department promotes a suitable balance of expertise on government boards and increasing the representation of women at senior levels.

PORTFOLIO AGENCIES



The Department pursued the achievement of the Portfolio’s outcomes in 2004-05 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 Ltd
Telephone: (02) 9633 1711 Internet: <www.accreditation.aust.com>

The Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Ltd (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 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 main 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 Standards.

During 2004-05, the Agency contributed to Outcome 3 – Enhanced Quality of Life for Older Australians.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • At the end of June there were 2,935 accredited homes and 99 per cent of homes were fully compliant with the 44 expected outcomes of the Accreditation Standards. Of the accredited homes, 92 per cent were awarded three years or more accreditation.
  • Education and information sharing activities included better practice seminars in all States and Territories; participation of over 9,000 staff in 830 homes in a quality education on standards session since October; the monthly publication of the newsletter The Standard; and a third re-print of the Pocket Guide to the Accreditation Standards.
  • The Agency was certified to the Australian quality standard (ISO 9001:2000) in October 2004.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Telephone: (02) 6244 1000 Internet: <www.aihw.gov.au>

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

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 puts into the public domain and promotes the results of its work. During 2004-05, the AIHW contributed to Outcome 9 – Health Investment.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • Consistent with its Mission – Better health and welfare for Australians through better health and welfare statistics and information – and its responsibilities under Outcome 9, the AIHW 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 (CEO) of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is a statutory office created under Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 (the ARPANS Act). The Act allows for the CEO to engage staff to perform the functions of the office of the CEO set out in the Act (see below). Together, the CEO and staff constitute a statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999 and a prescribed agency under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1999.

Functions:

The objective of the ARPANS Act, which establishes ARPANSA, 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. It 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. It also provides information and advice to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public, and provides some radiation protection services.

In contributing to international deliberations, ARPANSA ensures that Australia’s interest and priorities are appropriately reflected and learns about international best practice in radiation protection and nuclear safety. The Agency promotes national uniformity in radiation protection and nuclear safety in Australia’s States and Territories on major radiation issues such as the security of radioactive sources, emergency response and the safety of radioactive waste management.

ARPANSA is responsible for regulating all radiation and nuclear activities undertaken by Australian Government entities.

During 2004-05, ARPANSA contributed to Outcome 1 – Population Health and Safety.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • Publication of the first edition of the National Directory for Radiation Protection (NDRP). The NDRP introduces uniformity in radiation protection practices between Australian jurisdictions. In addition, ARPANSA published the Recommendations for Intervention in Emergency Situations Involving Radiation Exposure and the Code of Practice for the Exposure of Humans to Ionizing Radiation for Research Purposes.
  • Rigorous and impartial assessment of an application from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation for a facility licence under the Act to authorise operation of the Replacement Research Reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney. This assessment was accompanied by monitoring of the current construction licence, as well as extensive public consultation.
  • Instigation of improved physical security of radioactive sources and enhancement of the nation’s capability to undertake comprehensive in-field analysis and to provide advice in the event of a radiological incident.
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 created under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (the FSANZ Act). 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 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 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 and Parliamentary Secretary on matters related to food.

During 2004-05, FSANZ contributed to Outcome 1 – Population Health and Safety.

Key Achievement for 2004-05:

  • Finalisation of organisational arrangements to ensure a better alignment with, and greater responsiveness to, changes in the food regulatory environment. Considerable progress was made in the development of primary production and processing standards including completion of the seafood standard. Progress was also made in developing standards to give effect to policy guidelines for the fortification of food, for country of origin labelling of food, and for nutrition, health and related claims.

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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 an Australian Government company limited by guarantee, and incorporated in March 2001 under the Corporations Act 2001. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Functions:

GPET’s role is to establish, maintain, promote, monitor and evaluate a national system of regionalised general practice education and vocational training across Australia on behalf of the Australian Government.

The regionalised system (known as Australian General Practice Training - AGPT) 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. GPET 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 future orientated and meets professional standards.

GPET aims to position AGPT as a world leader in general practice education and training and provides strategic advice to the Australian Government accordingly. During 2004-05, GPET contributed to Outcome 4 – Quality Health Care.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • The number of GP registrars in training reached historically high levels, peaking at 1,948. Following an increase to the annual quota of training places to 600, the number of GPs entering training in January 2004 was the highest since 1998 (approximately 550).
  • The GPET Board proposed a national roll-out of pilot projects involving international medical graduates conducted by two regional training providers, to provide greater support and training to international medical graduates working in areas of medical service need.
  • There was a 28 per cent increase in the number of registrars placed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training posts.
  • There was a 12 per cent increase in the number of registrars undertaking academic posts.
  • GPET finalised the Enhanced Rural Training Framework to provide policy guidance to its regional training providers on delivery and funding of advanced rural training.
  • GPET finalised the document Outcomes of Regionalisation – Regional Training Providers Objectives which details GPET’s expectations in relation to business, training, innovation and performance for regional training providers.
  • The GPET Board accredited eight regional training providers under its Quality Framework as part of the review and accreditation program. All remaining regional training providers are scheduled for review and accreditation by December 2005.
National Blood Authority
Telephone: 1800 351 000 (02) 6211 8301 Internet: <www.nba.gov.au>

The National Blood Authority (NBA) is a statutory agency established under the National Blood Authority Act 2003. It is subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Public Service Act 1999.

Functions:

The 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.

In 2004-05, the NBA contributed to Outcome 4 – Quality Health Care.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • Management of the supply of blood and blood products to the satisfaction of all jurisdictions.
  • Negotiation and signing of a Plasma Products Agreement with CSL Limited, thus providing additional value compared to previous arrangements.
  • Contract negotiations with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.
  • Establishment of a Standing Offer arrangement that provides a contingency supply of Intravenous Immunoglobulin in the case of domestic shortfalls.
  • Announcement of the establishment of Standing Offer arrangements for the supply of diagnostic reagent products to Australian public pathology laboratories.
  • Instigation of sector consultative mechanisms through the involvement of clinicians, peak bodies and other blood sector experts, as well as through the establishment of a Blood Products Suppliers’ Forum and a Professional and Community Advisory Forum, to improve consultation, communication and engagement of the blood sector in Australia.

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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) is a public company limited by guarantee, incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 in December 2000. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Functions:

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

  • raising awareness of the important gaps between what is known, from the best available research, and what is actually done in day-to-day practice; and
  • supporting health professionals to understand and overcome the barriers to applying evidence within Australian health care settings.

During 2004-05, NICS contributed to Outcome 9 – Health Investment.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • Launch of the second volume of Evidence-Practice Gaps Report, highlighting 12 common health care areas where research-based recommendations are underused, overused or misused in day-to-day practice.
  • Continued programs of work to close evidence-practice gaps, including two identified in the first Evidence-Practice Gaps Report: the management of cancer patients’ pain and the diagnosis and management of heart failure. The institute coordinated the first pain management improvement program in Australia involving eight hospitals working to improve pain management in cancer patients and also initiated the Joint Heart Failure Program, in partnership with the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the National Prescribing Service. Through the program 43 Divisions of General Practice are working to improve prescribing of heart failure drugs.

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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 the PHIAC are to:

  • develop, implement, and monitor compliance with the solvency and capital adequacy standards, to ensure that private health insurers, known as registered health benefits organisations (RHBOs), remain prudentially sound;
  • administer the Health Benefits Reinsurance Trust Fund;
  • undertake the supervisory functions in relation to RHBOs, including the appointment of inspectors and administrators;
  • approve registration, de-registration and merger of RHBOs;
  • approve voluntary winding up of an RHBO;
  • collect and disseminate financial and statistical data, including tabling of an annual report to Parliament on the operations of RHBOs; and
  • levy RHBOs for the general administrative costs of the PHIAC and the Acute Care Advisory Committee.

The PHIAC produces 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. The PHIAC reports on the 30 per cent rebate annually.

The PHIAC collects and disseminates information about private health insurance to allow consumers to make informed choices about the product. During 2004-05, PHIAC contributed to Outcome 8 – Choice Through Private Health.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • To ensure that contribution rate increases applied for by registered health funds were appropriate and necessary, PHIAC requested an independent view from the Australian Government Actuary to provide a second opinion.
  • The PHIAC Board resolved to include within the annual risk management statement, a requirement for fund Boards to provide advice by way of a certificate as to whether their fund has Directors and Officers and public liability insurance in place and whether in their view the amount of cover is adequate. Information on insurance held by registered funds will be reported on in PHIAC’s annual report to Parliament.
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 authority established under Part VIC of the National Health Act 1953. It is subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Functions:

The functions of the PHIO are to:

  • handle complaints regarding private health insurance arrangements;
  • 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 the Private Patients’ Hospital Charter.

PHIO’s functions and powers were expanded in 2004-05 to:

  • include a new requirement for the Ombudsman to report annually on the performance of health funds through the publication of a State of the Health Funds Report;
  • strengthen requirements for funds to provide information and documentation to assist with the Ombudsman’s inquiries and investigations; and
  • require funds, hospitals and medical practitioners to respond to the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

During 2004-05, PHIO contributed to Outcome 8 – Choice Through Private Health.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • Publication of the first State of the Health Funds Report and consumer guides for each state.
  • Work with industry stakeholders to improve incidence and effectiveness of informed financial consent through participation in the Minister’s Informed Financial Consent Taskforce, work with the Australian Medical Association and Association of Anaesthetists on their policies and forms for informed financial consent.
  • Provision of advice and assistance to the industry on best practice complaints handling including the Listening Post Self Assessment process (co-sponsored by the industry representative bodies Health Insurance Restricted Membership Association of Australia and Australian Health Insurance Association and workshops for fund complaint staff).

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Professional Services Review
Telephone: (02) 6210 9100 Internet: <www.psr.gov.au>

The Professional Services Review (PSR) scheme was established under the Health Insurance Act 1973. The Director of PSR is an independent statutory officer appointed by the Minister for Health and Ageing with the agreement of the Australian Medical Association. The scheme was established as a prescribed authority to assist the Director to carry out those functions specified below. It is subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Public Service Act 1999.

Functions:

The scheme permits 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.

The Health Insurance Commission (HIC) requests the Director to review cases 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 3 years). For a negotiated agreement to become effective it must be ratified by the Determining Authority.

During 2004-05, PSR contributed to Outcome 2 – Access to Medicare.

Key Achievements for 2004-05:

  • As a result of a significant decrease in the number of requests from the HIC (eight requests in 2004-05, compared to the normal 40-50 per annum), PSR conducted a review of its staffing which resulted in voluntary redundancies being offered to eight staff within the Committees Unit.
  • Dr John Holmes, the founding Director retired. Dr Tony Webber was appointed as the new Director on 14 February 2005.
  • The Report of the Review Committee of the Professional Services Review Scheme was tabled in Parliament on 2 June 1999 as part of amending legislation. The amendments became effective on 1 November 1999, and introduced the category of a ‘prescribed pattern of services’ whereby general practitioners who render 80 or more services on 20 or more days are deemed to have practiced inappropriately unless they can demonstrate exceptional circumstances. Fourteen of these cases are the subject of current applications in the Federal Court seeking relief on the following grounds:
  • the committees applied the incorrect test to ‘exceptional circumstances’;
  • referral decisions were invalid because requests and referrals were allegedly made automatically;
  • the PSR scheme constituted civil conscription; and
  • the Director failed to meet obligations on him to negotiate agreements.

    PSR has experienced success in defending some of these matters while others are still before the Court.

  • At the time of printing, there were seven other matters currently before the Courts. Two of these matters rely on the Pradhan decision. All the remaining cases subject to the Pradhan decision (mentioned in PSR’s 2003-04 Annual Report) have been finalised.

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Produced by the Portfolio Strategies Division, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
URL: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/annrpt/publishing.nsf/Content/appendix9-staffing-information-1
If you would like to know more or give us your comments contact: annrep@health.gov.au