Health leaders unite for think tank on federal reform

11 March, 2015

More than 100 health leaders, including Federal Health Minister the Hon Sussan Ley MP, will converge on Old Parliament House in Canberra next week (16 March) for the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association's (AHHA) Think Tank on Reform of the Federation and Health.

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said the Think Tank, which will examine issues to be addressed in the Australian Government's Reform of the Federation White Paper, would see a rare coming together of leading politicians, clinicians, academics and administrators from across the country.

"We look forward to welcoming representatives from all major political parties, as well as a diverse group of health leaders including the ACT Australian of the Year, Aspen Medical CEO Glenn Keys, the Federation CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Martin Laverty, and many more," Verhoeven said.

"The Think Tank is a unique opportunity to look at issues through the respective lenses, ideologies and interests of our health leaders. As such, it will provide a good representation of the health system, including the challenges, opportunities, tensions and partnerships that can exist."

The Think Tank is in response to the Commonwealth Government-initiated process to reform the federation, which will see the Reform of the Federation White Paper developed to re-examine the roles, responsibilities and revenue raising powers of all levels of government.

Former Chief Minister and Minister for Health of the ACT, and soon to be Senator for the ACT, Katy Gallagher, said the Think Tank provides an important opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

"The AHHA conference tackles one of the country's major policy challenges—how do we deliver a sustainable public health system in Australia?" Gallagher said.

"As someone who has been involved in public health for the past eight years, under four different Federal Governments, four different Prime Ministers and various iterations of national health reform, I am keen to share my views on what worked, what didn't and where we go to from here."

Royal Flying Doctor Service head Martin Laverty, who will offer a not-for-profit sector perspective at the Think Tank, said the disparity between rural and metropolitan health services needed to be addressed.

"The OECD consistently ranks the Australian population as one of the world's healthiest," Laverty said. "Yet within Australia, there are avoidable disparities in health service access and health outcomes. Federation health reform should tackle disparity in access to services and disparity in health outcomes."

Verhoeven said the all-encompassing nature of the process meant views had to be incorporated from stakeholders across the sector.

"The past 12 months has shown that the Government cannot go it alone when it comes to health policy," Verhoeven said. "Activities like next week's Think Tank take advantage of the unique perspectives and experience of our health leaders, providing a foundation for considering any change to our federation."

The Think Tank's speakers includes Shadow Minister for Health the Hon Catherine King MP and Greens' spokesperson on health, Senator Richard Di Natale.

View full list of speakers along with program and registration information