#357 Communications and Advocacy update
30 September 2021
Here’s an update on a few of the issues AMA Victoria is working on for members, including:
- Victorian Government recruitment of international health professionals
- Meal entertainment entitlement during lockdown
- Disability Act review.
Victorian Government recruitment of international health professionals
As reported in a previous update, we recently asked the Victorian Department of Health for clarification regarding its announcement of a pathway to support the intake of international health professionals (IHPs) into Victorian health services.
In response, the Department has indicated that:
- The initiative targets IHPs already recruited by Victorian public hospitals who have experienced difficulties entering Australia due to current international border restrictions.
- Up to 350 IHPs will be supported to enter Victoria (approximately 30 per week) through the special arrival pathway now in place.
- Approximately 90 per cent of these are medical practitioners.
- Their level of experience and specialist qualifications has been determined by health service requirements and covers a variety of roles and levels from consultants to hospital medical officers.
- All medical officers are from competent authority countries, have relevant Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) registration, and appropriate visas to enable them to enter Australia and commence work immediately.
- The candidates have been recruited by health services following the requirement to attempt to fill positions locally in the first instance and have been employed by a range of metropolitan and regional health services.
The Department also noted AMA Victoria’s concerns regarding those IMGs already residing in Victoria, who have been unable to complete their relevant examinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department indicated that it is committed to supporting IMGs currently residing in Victoria in their endeavours to gain registration and commence practice. To assist in this process, AMA Victoria recently surveyed this group (receiving over 500 responses) and will shortly provide the findings to the Department.
Meal entertainment entitlement during lockdown
A number of members have recently asked us whether they can utilise their meal entertainment entitlement for takeaway meals during the most recent lockdowns, as they could during the 2020 lockdowns.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has now updated its website to advise that:
“Given the unprecedented circumstances brought about by COVID-19, we will not apply compliance resources to scrutinise expenditure under these arrangements for the FBT [Fringe benefits tax] year ending 31 March 2022 for meals provided:
- by a supplier that was authorised as a meal entertainment provider from 1 April 2021, and
- while restaurants and public venues were required to be closed to dine-in service due to a COVID-19 state public health order.
We have also confirmed that we will not apply compliance resources to scrutinise expenditure for the:
- FBT year ending 31 March 2021 – where meals are provided by a supplier that was authorised as a meal entertainment provider from 1 March 2020
- FBT year ended 31 March 2020 – when restaurants and public venues were closed."
However, the ATO says that it is still up to salary packaging companies whether they relax their rules during this time, and we understand that some have not. Accordingly, members may need to contact their salary packaging company to confirm whether they can avail themselves of this entitlement.
Disability Act review
The Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing is currently reviewing the Disability Act 2006. The Act is an important source of rights and protections for Victorians with disability.
With the move to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Victorian Government’s role in disability has changed and we need to make sure the Act is contemporary and fit for purpose for the more than 1.1 million Victorians with disability.
As part of the review, the Department wants to hear ideas about how the Act can promote inclusion and tackle inequality.
Scope of the review
The review includes the following topics:
- promoting social, civic and economic inclusion and participation of people with disability
- community visitors
- forensic disability services
- compulsory treatment
- restrictive practices
- residential rights and services.
If you would like to contribute towards AMA Victoria’s submission, please email your feedback to Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au by Friday 15 October.
Click here for more information.