#320 Communications and Advocacy update
14 July 2021
Here’s an update on a few of the issues AMA Victoria is working on for members, including:
- Meeting with Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley
- Proposed new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act
- Building a climate resilient Victoria - Health and Human Services Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026
- Draft Non-Emergency Patient Transport Amendment Regulations 2021 and Draft Non-Emergency Patient Transport and First Aid Services (First Aid Services) Regulations 2021
- Victorian intersex oversight panel proposal.
Meeting with Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley
AMA Victoria has recently met with the Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley and expressed our desire to work constructively with the Victorian Government in continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and in building an improved health system in a post-COVID Victoria.
To this end, we expressed to the Minister that key to us in improving our health system is:
- Addressing the very real difficulties that exist in public hospital access (acknowledging that ambulance ramping and crowded emergency departments are just perhaps the most visible manifestations of wider system failure).
- Ensuring medical expertise is heeded in reforming Victoria’s mental health system (ultimately, the success or failure in fundamentally transforming Victoria’s mental health system depends upon successful implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, and medical expertise is essential to successful implementation).
- Addressing critical workforce shortages (improving collaboration between health services and supporting/pursuing a networking solution in regional Victoria which embraces referral pathways, staffing solutions and video linking, as opposed to outsourcing).
- Refining the interface between general practice and hospitals (particularly by improving discharge planning and IT linkages).
- Ensuring more doctors are involved in governance.
Though being critical where necessary (we raised, amongst other issues, concerns around the proposed Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, the conduct of WorkSafe and the lack of support for specialist practitioners during the most recent lockdown), we look forward to working with the Victorian Government over the period ahead to support the medical workforce and ensure quality healthcare for all Victorians.
Proposed new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act
The Victorian Department of Health has released an engagement paper on the development of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act (one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System). The paper:
- describes the Royal Commission’s recommendations on the new Act
- presents the Department of Health’s proposals to meet the Royal Commission’s recommendations
- asks for feedback on these proposals.
More information can be found at: Mental Health and Wellbeing Act: Update and Engagement
AMA Victoria is examining the proposed new legislation, which contain a number of substantial changes to the current Mental Health Act, particularly in regards to certification and restraint, and preparing a submission to the Department of Health outlining any concerns we might have about what is proposed.
We would be grateful if members would be able to contribute to our response by describing how the proposed changes to the Act may affect your area of practice, and/or by providing case examples. We can provide further information as required.
If you wish to contribute towards our submission on the proposed new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, please send your feedback through to Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au by Sunday 25 July.
Building a climate resilient Victoria - Health and Human Services Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026
In Victoria, action on climate change is underpinned by the Climate Change Act 2017 (the Act). The Act requires nominated ministers for seven different systems, including the Health and Human Services system, to prepare climate change adaptation action plans.
The Act defines the Victorian Health and Human Services system as, “The services and assets primarily engaged in protecting human health from disease resulting from or associated with communicable disease, food, water or the environment”; and “The services and assets which provide human physical and mental health care, social support and assistance”. It spans health and social housing infrastructure, public health programs and services, and targeted support for vulnerable individuals and communities. More Victorian residents work in healthcare and social services than any other industry.
The Victorian Government is seeking input from AMA Victoria on the Health and Human Services Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026 with a goal of developing a plan for the next five years that will enable the Health and Human Services system to support adaptation to a changing climate.
For more information: The Draft Health and Human Services Climate Change AAP 2022-26 | Engage Victoria
If you wish to contribute towards our submission on the plan, please send your feedback through to Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au by Sunday 1 August.
Draft Non-Emergency Patient Transport Amendment Regulations 2021 and Draft Non-Emergency Patient Transport and First Aid Services (First Aid Services) Regulations 2021
As members may be aware, the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Amendment Bill 2021 is before the Victorian Parliament. If approved, the Bill will amend the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Amendment Act 2003.
The major changes the Bill introduces are inserting patient safety and quality of care as an objective of the legislation, abolishing standby accreditation of non-emergency patient transport providers and replacing it with the licencing and regulation of commercial first aid providers, and requiring a minimum number of patient transport per annum in order to retain a NEPT licence. Any NEPT licence holder currently providing stand-by services will be required to obtain a first aid services licence if they wish to continue to provide first aid services.
To support the Bill, it is necessary to amend the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Regulations 2016 and develop new regulations for the first aid sector. The Victorian Government is seeking our feedback on these two sets of draft regulations.
AMA Victoria has preliminary concerns around any legislative change that seeks to mandate that a doctor must hold an additional licence to provide a first aid service (unless, as the regulations state, they are working in a hospital or “medical clinic”). This might include sports physicians working field-side, but also potentially other treatment scenarios. We will be seeking clarification from the Government regarding the intended scope of what is proposed.
For more information on what is proposed regarding licensing: Victorian first aid licensing scheme and registered health professionals – Australian Emergency Law.
For access to the draft regulations: NEPT legislation and clinical practice protocols.
If you wish to contribute towards our submission on the Draft Non-Emergency Patient Transport Amendment Regulations 2021 and Draft Non-Emergency Patient Transport and First Aid Services (First Aid Services) Regulations 2021 please send your feedback through to Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au by Sunday 1 August.
Victorian intersex oversight panel proposal
The Victorian Government recently released its I am Equal paper, announcing its commitment to developing a mechanism to prohibit deferrable medical interventions on intersex people without personal consent, alongside an oversight panel to ensure compliance with such a prohibition.
AMA Victoria has been invited by Equality Australia, who has been commissioned by the Victorian Government to provide advice on the establishment of the oversight panel, to give our feedback on this proposal. Equality Australia have conveyed to us that it is vital that the voices of clinicians and health professionals involved in providing health services to people with innate variations of sex characteristics are heard.
Equality Australia will be holding a dedicated workshop for clinicians and health professionals on Friday 23 July, 8:30am-10am.
A consultation paper with Equality Australia’s detailed draft proposal, as well as a background paper outlining the key legal and policy issues informing the proposal, are available for download here.
If you would like to represent AMA Victoria at this workshop, please send an email to Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au.