Communications and advocacy update: 20 April
20 April 2023
Here’s an update on a few of the issues AMA Victoria is working on for members, including:
- Meeting with Victorian Health Minister’s Office
- Targeted consultation - Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal requirements for Health Practitioner Regulation National Law matters
- Open letter re: replacing gas with electricity to protect health.
Meeting with Victorian Health Minister’s Office
AMA Victoria recently met with Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas’ Office where we discussed a range of issues relevant to the healthcare sector.
Principal amongst these was the sustainability and future of primary care in Victoria. The risks associated with pharmacy prescribing, the potential consequences of payroll tax imposition on general practices, the Department of Health’s Chief GP Adviser position, and the GP Registrar incentive payment were all canvassed.
In our discussion, we put our case forcefully that the plight of general practice – indeed its very business viability – remains dire, and that general practice shoulders over 90 per cent of the healthcare burden in Victoria yet receives the least attention from the Victorian Government. Most immediately, we asserted that the Government must step up to address the parlous financial state of many general practices by addressing the payroll tax issue to ensure that practices can remain viable businesses dedicated to providing care to Victorians.
In addition to the future/sustainability of primary care, we discussed the Government’s efforts to clear the planned surgery backlog, the potential for more stringent and targeted regulation of vaping, mental health reform, the future status of cannabis, and the potential for reimposition of mask mandates in healthcare settings if COVID cases surge over winter.
We look forward to further productive discussions with the Minister and her Office.
Targeted consultation - Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal requirements for Health Practitioner Regulation National Law matters
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (VCAT Act) currently requires matters related to the National Law to be considered by a three-member VCAT panel, with at least two members of the panel needing to be health practitioners registered in the relevant health profession.
The Victorian Government has sought our views as to whether these requirements remain fit for purpose.
Essentially, the Government has proposed changing the present requirements primarily because VCAT is experiencing a shortage of specialist members in certain professions such as Medical Radiation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Optometry, and Podiatry, leading to significant delays in certain matters being heard.
We have written to the Victorian Government advocating for no changes to the panel constitution requirements in the VCAT Act in matters pertaining to medical practitioners. It is our view that knowledge and expertise are essential in hearing National Law matters, and, as the Government tacitly acknowledges, there is not presently a shortage of medical practitioners who can serve on panels, though their number could nonetheless be higher.
Open letter re: replacing gas with electricity to protect health
AMA Victoria brings to members’ attention Healthy Futures’ open letter regarding replacing gas with electricity to protect health: Gas-Free Healthy Homes VIC - Healthy Futures.
We would appreciate the views of members as to whether we should join fellow healthcare organisations in signing onto this letter.
If you would like to provide feedback, please send your views through to AMA Victoria's Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au.