1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Health >> Health-related organisations - Australian government

Health and Community Services Ministerial Council (HCSMC)

The Health and Community Services Ministerial Council was formed in 1993 by a decision of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), bringing together the Australian Health Ministers' Conference (AHMC) and the Community Services Ministers' Conference (CSMC). This combined Council meets as necessary to deal with the wider framework of health and community service issues of interest to members of both AHMC and CSMC.

The AHMC and its advisory body, the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC), provide a mechanism through which the Commonwealth, State and Territory and New Zealand Governments discuss matters of mutual interest concerning health policy, services and programs. Neither the Conference nor the Council has statutory powers, and decisions are reached by consensus.

In 2000-01, Health Ministers continued to focus on areas such as: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' health, primary health care and aged care, as well as issues associated with safety and quality in Australian health care and health information management.

The CSMC and its advisory body, the Community Services Ministers' Advisory Council (CSMAC), have a similar mechanism concerning community services, and welfare policy and programs. In addition, Papua New Guinea is invited to participate.

In 2000-01, the CSMC discussed a wide range of issues such as gambling addiction, services for refugees, support for Indigenous families and communities, aged care and ageing, and a national families and community strategy.

Ministers with responsibilities for disability services matters, who are also Members of the HCSMC, meet as necessary to discuss future directions of disability services programs and services.

Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care

The Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care provides policy advice to the Government and implements Commonwealth government health and aged care programs. The Department’s mission is to lead the development of Australia’s health and aged care system.

The Department’s vision is for a world class health and aged care system for all Australians. To achieve this vision, the Department focuses on the following specific outcomes set by the Government for the Health and Aged Care portfolio:

  • To promote and protect the health of all Australians and minimise the incidence of preventable mortality, illness, injury and disability.
  • Access through Medicare to cost-effective medical services, medicines and acute health care for all Australians.
  • Support for healthy ageing for older Australians and quality and cost-effective care for frail older people and support for their carers.
  • Improved quality, integration and effectiveness of health care.
  • Improved health outcomes for Australians living in regional, rural and remote locations.
  • To reduce the consequence of hearing loss for eligible clients and the incidence of hearing loss in the broader community.
  • Improved health status for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • A viable private health insurance industry to improve the choice of health services for Australians.
  • Knowledge, information and training for developing better strategies to improve the health of Australians.

The Department works with other stakeholders, including the other agencies in the portfolio, to provide national coordination of health and aged care services. These stakeholders include consumers, communities, providers, peak bodies, industry groups, professional organisations and State and Territory Governments. The portfolio agencies include the Health Insurance Commission, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, Australian Hearing, Health Services Australia, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, the Professional Services Review, and the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

AIHW is a statutory authority within the Commonwealth Health and Aged Care portfolio. The Institute's mission is “To improve the health and well-being of Australians, we inform community discussion and decision making through national leadership in developing and providing health and welfare statistics and information". The Institute’s main functions relate to the collation and dissemination of information related to health and welfare. The AIHW works closely with other agencies which collect data, produce statistics and undertake research and analysis in the health, community services and housing assistance fields.

The AIHW also provides support to the States and Territories in the health and welfare areas, primarily through AHMAC, CSMAC and the Housing Ministers’ Advisory Committee, and the national information management groups which report to those advisory groups.

Five collaborating units (contracted with the organisations shown below) extend the scope of the Institute’s expertise and assist the AIHW in performing its functions:

  • National Perinatal Statistics Unit (University of New South Wales)
  • Dental Statistics and Research Unit (University of Adelaide)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Welfare Information Unit (National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Darwin)
  • National Injury Surveillance Unit (Flinders University)
  • General Practice Statistics and Classification Unit (University of Sydney).

The Institute’s Board encourages judicious collaboration with suitable organisations to enhance the Institute’s ability to meet its mission. In addition, the AIHW works collaboratively with a range of agencies such as the National Centre for Classification in Health, the Australian Patient Safety Foundation and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

The NHMRC is a statutory body that reports to the Parliament through the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Aged Care. The NHMRC has statutory obligations to:

  • raise the standard of individual and public health throughout Australia;
  • foster the development of consistent health standards between the States and Territories;
  • foster medical research and training, and public health research and training, throughout Australia; and
  • foster consideration of ethical issues relating to health.

The NHMRC provides collaborative leadership to improve the health of Australians by fostering and supporting a high quality and internationally recognised research base, providing evidence based advice, applying research evidence to health issues, and promoting informed debate on health and medical research, health ethics and related policy issues.

The 29 members of Council are appointed under categories defined by the legislation, including expertise in fields of health, medicine and medical research, nominees of Commonwealth, State and Territory health authorities and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer.

While the staff of the NHMRC report to an independent Chief Executive Officer, appointed by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, they are also members of staff of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

Communicable Diseases Network Australia New Zealand

The Communicable Diseases Network Australia New Zealand (CDNANZ) was established in 1989 as a joint initiative of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) to enhance the national capacity for communicable disease surveillance and control. The CDNANZ operates on a cooperative basis with the involvement of health authorities from the Commonwealth, States and Territories, and New Zealand, as well as representatives from other government agencies including Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia (AFFA), the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA), the Australian Defence Forces and various key organisations which contribute to communicable disease control in Australia.

The CDNANZ meets fortnightly by teleconference, providing a forum for information exchange on communicable disease activity in Australia and New Zealand as well as activity overseas with potential or realised significance in our region. The Network oversees the coordination of national communicable diseases surveillance and communicable diseases outbreak control where a national response is required. The Network coordinates the surveillance of communicable diseases through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System and a number of specialised surveillance systems. The CDNANZ is also involved in the development of communicable disease policy, drawing on expertise across the State, Territory and Commonwealth health departments, universities and other specialist organisations.

To complement the CDNANZ, the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN) was established in 1997 as a collaborative group of laboratories nominated by State and Territory health departments. They have expertise in public health microbiology and are major providers of public health laboratory services. The aim of the PHLN is to provide strategic advice, define priorities and share expertise at the national level in order to enhance the national capacity for the laboratory-based surveillance and outbreak management of communicable diseases in Australia.

Disease registries

Disease registries exist for a range of diseases and medical procedures in Australia. The general aim is to compile a database of all cases (within a given time and place) of a particular disease. These data can be used for research, providing clinical services, developing and evaluating health prevention/intervention policies and for administration purposes. Some of the major national disease registries include:

  • Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) - the Health Insurance Commission collects immunisation data to provide comprehensive information on the immunisation status of all children under seven years of age living in Australia. ACIR enables parents and health care providers to check on a child's immunisation status. The Register is also used to monitor immunisation coverage levels, service delivery and disease outbreaks. http://www1.hic.gov.au/general/acircirghome;
  • Australian Spinal Cord Injury Register - enables patterns and trends of spinal cord injury (SCI) to be monitored, and provides an opportunity to conduct survival studies on people with SCI;
  • Cancer Registries - cancer is a notifiable disease in all States and Territories of Australia. To maintain an national dataset, the National Cancer Statistics Clearing House at the AIHW receives incidence data from individual State and Territory cancer registries on all cancers diagnosed among Australian residents. http://www.aihw.gov.au/cancer/ncsch/;
  • Diabetes Register - based at the AIHW, provides statistics on diabetics who use insulin. The information is collected from records of people using the National Diabetic Services Scheme and the State-based registers of the Australian Paediatric Endocrine Group;
  • National Cardiac Surgery Register and National Coronary Angioplasty Register - a joint project between the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the AIHW. The National Cardiac Surgery Register contains annual data on the number of heart surgery procedures and associated deaths from cardiac surgery units around Australia. The National Coronary Angioplasty Register contains information on coronary angioplasty procedures, indications, associated complications, lesion location, success rates and adjunctive techniques such as stenting from cardiac catheterisation units around Australia;
  • National Register of Pregnancies After Assisted Conception - contains data from all IVF centres performing in-vitro fertilisation, gamete intrafallopian transfer and related procedures in Australia and New Zealand.

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