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ICT Flow-ons Likely from New Statutory Body

by Staff Writers •
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A new statutory body responsible for managing and overseeing major health reforms has taken a further key step towards its establishment with the advertising of a number of senior roles in the national press on 15 May 2010. 

Significant opportunities arising for ICT support of various kinds, ranging from database management, statistical analysis and business intelligence applications, program management and program governance through to corporate applications such as ERP systems to support HR, Payroll and Finance functions are implicit in the key duties of the advertised roles (see below).

Almost exactly 6 years after the need was first recognised, the Australian Government’s Health Workforce Australia - based in South Australia - was established as a result of a Productivity Commission report commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in June 2004.  COAG requested the Commission to investigate institutional, regulatory and other factors across both the health and education sectors.

The Commission released its report, Australia’s Health Workforce, on 19 January 2006.  It stated  that a more sustainable and responsive health workforce for Australia was needed and pointed to the complexity of Australia’s health workforce arrangements and the involvement of numerous bodies at all levels in health workforce education and training.

One of the Commission’s key recommendations was the establishment of national governance arrangements for health workforce ‘institutional and regulatory’ structures.  According to the Commission such arrangements would ensure decision making processes were ‘objective, informed by appropriate expert advice, transparent and reflect the public interest’.

HWA is intending to address some of the specific shortcomings identified in the Productivity Commission Report.  These include:

  • Ineffective coordination between governments at the workforce planning phase, which has led to a lack of information;
  • Failures to link projections on the numbers of future health workers required with employers needs;
  • Insufficient mechanisms in place to ensure the potential number of clinical trainee places matches student numbers; and
  • Lack of adequate sharing of lessons learned from strategic evaluations of workforce programs.

On 29 November 2008, COAG agreed to a National Partnership on Health and Hospital Reform of over $3 billion to improve efficiency and capacity in public hospitals through four reform components. 

One of these four components picked up the recommendations of the Commission to create ‘… a National Health Workforce Agency to establish more effective, streamlined and integrated clinical training arrangements and to support workforce reform initiatives.’ 

According to the Bills Digest of the Health Workforce Australia Bill 2009, the responsibilities of Health workforce Australia will include:

  • Funding;
  • Planning;
  • Coordinating clinical training across all health disciplines;
  • Supporting health workforce research and planning;
  • Funding simulation training; and
  • Progressing new workforce models and reforms.

Key Duties

The advertised roles are:

  • Executive Director, Information, Analysis and Planning;
  • Executive Director, Program Management;
  • Executive Director, Innovation and Reform;
  • Executive Director, Corporate and Finance; and
  • Executive Director, Communications, Stakeholder Relations and Marketing.

HWA Funding

The annual funding for HWA was summarised in the Explanatory Memorandum to this Bill and is replicated below.

In summary, the Commonwealth expected to provide $125 million over four years for the establishment and operation of HWA and a further $1.2 billion in combined Commonwealth and states and territory funding was to be administered through HWA over four years for initiatives under the COAG health workforce package.



($ m)


($ m)


($ m)


($ m)


($ m)

Direct HWA funding






Funding administered through HWA






CEO Appointed

On 8 December 2009, the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon announced the appointment of Mr Mark Cormack who was then the Chief Executive of the ACT Health Department as the inaugural CEO for Health Workforce Australia.  She said Mr Cormack bought important experience in public and community health care as well as a background in Allied Health and was chosen following ‘an exhaustive national recruitment exercise. His experience and expertise mean he will make a substantial and positive contribution to ensuring Australians have the best health care system possible.’

Board Established

On 12 February 2010 the Minister announced that the first board of Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has been appointed, with the Hon Jim McGinty being appointed to the position of Chairman of the Board.

According to the Explanatory Memorandum HWA will consist of:

  • A Board of Directors comprising of a nominee from each State and Territory and the Commonwealth, an independent Chair and may include up to three independent members selected by Health Ministers.  The Board will govern HWA, advise and report to Health Ministers and develop policies and operational plans as required;
  • A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of HWA and will report to the Board;
  • Expert Committees and Consultants engaged to assist with HWA functions as required; and
  • HWA staff.

Further information about the jobs can be obtained from Executive Intelligence Group on (02) 6232 2200.

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