Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the National Rural Health Commissioner

Page last updated: 11 November 2017

1. What are the responsibilities of the National Rural Health Commissioner (the Commissioner)?
2. What is the first priority of the Commissioner?
3. Will the Commissioner consult the health workforce as a whole?
4. How long will the Commissioner be appointed for? How was the Commissioner appointed?
5. What is the cost of establishing the Commissioner?
6. What are the reporting requirements for the Commissioner?
7. Will the Commissioner have any specific powers?
8. Who provides support for the Commissioner?
9. Will the Commissioner be supported by staff from other Departments?
10. Will the Commissioner work with other portfolios?

1. What are the responsibilities of the National Rural Health Commissioner (the Commissioner)?

The Commissioner will:

  1. Work across all rural health professions in regional, rural and remote areas
  2. Develop the National Rural Generalist Pathways
  3. Consult with states, territories and other stakeholders to define what it means to be a Rural Generalist
  4. Consider appropriate remuneration and ways to improve access to training for Rural Generalists
  5. Progress rural health reform

2. What is the first priority of the Commissioner?

The first priority of the Commissioner will be the development of the National Rural Generalist Pathways (the Pathways).

The Pathways will increase access to training for doctors in regional, rural and remote Australia. This will require the Commissioner to consider existing workforce training programs, and to collaborate with state and territory governments to support these arrangements, ensuring greater integration.

3. Will the Commissioner consult the health workforce as a whole?

Yes. While the Commissioner’s first priority is the development of the Pathway, the Commissioner’s role will be much broader and will include consultation with stakeholders to give consideration to the nursing and allied health needs in rural and remote Australia.

The Commissioner will also consider nursing, dental health, pharmacy, Indigenous health, mental health, midwifery, occupational therapy, physical therapy and allied health as well as effective models of care to meet the needs of communities.

4. How long will the Commissioner be appointed for? How was the Commissioner appointed?

The Commissioner is appointed as an independent statutory office position up to 30 June 2020. The Government will review the role in 2019 to consider extension of the position beyond June 2020.

The appointment was made by the Minister responsible for rural health and the Minister may also appoint an Acting Commissioner from time to time.

The Commissioner was appointed through a transparent, merit based process conducted by the Department of Health and the Australian Public Service Commissioner.

5. What is the cost of establishing the Commissioner?

Funding for the Commissioner is provided through existing departmental resources.

The Expenditure Review Committee approved the budget of $4.4 million for the Commissioner up to 30 June 2020. Policy approval was provided as part of the 2016-17 Mid-Year Economic Financial Outlook (MYEFO) process.

6. What are the reporting requirements for the Commissioner?

The Commissioner is required to prepare a draft report of his functions, advice and recommendations, to be submitted to the Minister responsible for rural health by 31 December 2019, or earlier if specified by the Minister. The Commissioner is also required to submit a final report by 30 June 2020, or earlier if specified by the Minister, in relation to his functions, final advice and recommendations.

In addition, the Commissioner must prepare and submit an annual report to the Minister, within three months after the end of each calendar year. The annual report will include details of the Commissioner’s activities during the reporting period, and any other matters the Minister directs the Commissioner to include in the report.

7. Will the Commissioner have any specific powers?

The Commissioner will:

  1. Carry out duties as directed by the responsible Minister for rural health, as well as independent duties.
  2. Not delegate his powers or functions to anyone else.
  3. Not have financial delegation powers.
  4. Be assisted by Departmental officers, and will not have specific employment powers.
  5. Not be able to engage consultants to assist him in fulfilling his duties.

8. Who provides support for the Commissioner?

Selected staff from the Department of Health support the functions and directions of the Commissioner. The Commissioner will not have specific employment powers and will not be able to personally engage consultants to assist in the exercise of his or her duties. This is in line with the Government’s responsible fiscal policy to reduce expenditure.

9. Will the Commissioner be supported by staff from other Departments?

No.

10. Will the Commissioner work with other portfolios?

No.

In this section