The Natural Therapies Review Advisory Committee

Terms of Reference

Page last updated: 20 December 2013

Printable version of the Terms of Reference (PDF 369 KB)

Introduction

The Review of the Australian Government rebate on Private Health Insurance (the Rebate) for natural therapies (the Review) was announced in the 2012-13 Budget.

The Review’s purpose is to ensure that taxpayer funds that are paid through the Rebate to subsidise natural therapies that are underpinned by a credible evidence base that demonstrates their clinical efficacy, cost effectiveness and safety and quality. This approach is consistent with the Government’s overall commitment to fostering and promoting evidence-based medicine and treatments, ensuring the sustainability of the health sector and promoting value-for-money for taxpayers.

The Review will be administered by the Department of Health and Ageing (the Department). The Department will be responsible for overall stakeholder consultation.

The Department has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), who will conduct an evidence review relating to in scope natural therapies. Based on their findings, the NHMRC will provide advice to the Natural Therapies Review Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee) about which natural therapies are underpinned by a credible evidence base that demonstrates their clinical efficacy, cost effectiveness and safety and quality.

The Advisory Committee will review the findings of the NHMRC and provide advice to the Australian Government about the natural therapies that have an evidence base and should continue to attract the Rebate.

Role of the Advisory Committee

The role of the Advisory Committee is to undertake consultation and provide advice. It does not have a decision making role. The Advisory Committee’s responsibilities include:
  • Seeking further information from stakeholders as required, including the possibility of open sessions during Advisory Committee meetings for key stakeholders to present further information;
  • Encouraging Advisory Committee members, where appropriate, to canvass within their stakeholder group any issues which may arise during the course of the Advisory Committee’s work. This should occur in a way that does not affect the commercial or privacy interests of individual consumers or businesses;
  • Providing information to members for circulation and discussion within stakeholder groups, to seek feedback that informs consideration of the matters put to the Advisory Committee;
  • Ensuring that its members are aware that while some of the information will eventually be circulated more widely, it should not be released into the public domain while still under consideration in the Advisory Committee; and
  • Providing advice to the Australian Government for consideration, about the natural therapies that have been assessed by the NHMRC to have an evidence base supporting clinical efficacy, cost effectiveness and safety and quality.

Chair

The Advisory Committee will be chaired by the Department’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The Chair’s responsibilities include:
  • Scheduling meetings and notifying Advisory Committee members;
  • Guiding the meeting according to the agenda and time available;
  • Reviewing and approving meeting action items and outcomes before distribution; and
  • Reporting to stakeholders on the Review’s progress.

Membership

Advisory Committee members will include experts able to identify and interpret evidence. The composition of the Advisory Committee will include:
  • Representatives from the following natural therapy peak bodies, one each from:
- Australian Traditional Medicine Society
- Australian Natural Therapists Association
- Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association
  • Private health insurers, one each from:
- Private Healthcare Australia
- Health Insurance Restricted Membership Association of Australia
  • Consumers Health Forum, two representatives
  • Technical expertise, three representatives, one each from the following professions:
- Medical;
- Pharmacy; and
- Physiotherapy
  • Observer – NHMRC
The Advisory Committee will be a Departmental non-statutory committee, managed according to the Department’s External Committee Framework. The Private Health Insurance Branch, Medical Benefits Division of the Department of Health and Ageing will provide Secretariat support.

Non-members of the Advisory Committee may be invited to attend meetings of the Committee at the request of the Chair to provide advice and assistance where necessary. This may include, but is not limited to, clinicians, health economists and Departmental officers.

Declaration of Conflict of Interests

All members of the Advisory Committee shall declare any potential conflicts of interests in relation to specific agenda items for meetings of the Advisory Committee which are not immediately apparent from the position that brings them to this Advisory Committee.

The opportunity to do so must be provided at the start of all Advisory Committee meetings. All declarations must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

A member who has declared a potential conflict of interest may participate in the discussion on that matter, subject to the approval of the Advisory Committee.

Any decision reached by the Advisory Committee under a conflict of interest will be recorded and reported in the minutes of the meeting. The minutes will include:
  • the nature and extent of the conflict;
  • an outline of the discussion; and
  • the actions taken to manage the conflict.

Meetings

The Advisory Committee shall meet as required over the duration of the Review. It is expected there will be approximately three or four meetings. Members may be required to consider papers out-of-session and teleconference meetings may also be held.

Meetings shall be conducted by the Department in Canberra and where possible members should attend in person. Members, other than the Technical Experts, may nominate a proxy if they are unable to participate in a meeting. The Secretariat must be advised of all proxy details with as much notice as possible.

The Department will make every effort to provide members with meeting papers up to 10 working days prior to the scheduled meeting.

Agenda papers and meeting notes summarising key outcomes for each meeting may be provided electronically to members.

A quorum shall be half of the total number of Advisory Committee members plus one.

Administrative support

Administrative and secretariat support for the Advisory Committee shall be provided by the Private Health Insurance Branch, Medical Benefits Division of the Department.

Deliverables

The Advisory Committee through the Chair will summarise the Review’s findings and provide advice to the Australian Government about the natural therapies with an evidence base that should continue to attract the Rebate.

Timeframe

The Advisory Committee was established in February 2013 and will cease on completion of the review.