Review of Australian Government Health Workforce Programs

1.1 Review methodology and consultation process

Page last updated: 24 May 2013

A triangulated approach was taken during the review process which was designed to provide extensive analysis of all Australian Government health workforce programs funded to enable a robust report.

The three major activities undertaken were:

  • Analysis of each individual program/activity managed by Health Workforce Division – and other workforce programs implemented by other divisions within the department;
  • Research and develop a series of papers including ‘context papers’ written to provide background on health workforce issues. Also undertake a literature review of all relevant program evaluations, reports and parliamentary inquiry reports; and
  • Consultations with stakeholders which included interviews, written submissions and roundtable discussions aimed at identifying health workforce issues and program delivery concerns.
    • Program analysis

      During this phase, analysis was undertaken to scope out the health workforce programs that are currently being funded. This included gathering details of program objectives and outcomes, funding arrangements and perceived stakeholder support for each program.

      Each program was assessed against a number of criteria to analyse the extent to which funding was being used effectively to deliver government services aimed at addressing health workforce issues.

      The program assessment criteria included the level to which the program met the following criteria:

      • Strategic alignment – to what extent is the activity consistent with government policy priorities;
      • Integration – how the program fits within the policy and operating environment – how the program interacts with other programs.;
      • Appropriateness – reason for government intervention and the choice of policy instrument;
      • Performance assessment – measure (where data was available) the outcomes against the program objectives;
      • Effectiveness – how well the program outcomes are meeting the stated program objectives; and
      • Efficiency – how effective are resources used to deliver program outcomes.


      The research phase was mostly a data gathering exercise to gain an understanding of current and future priorities, trends and issues as well as projections of future workforce needs through workforce data. Evaluations of current programs were sourced from public and internal program evaluations and recommendations as well as relevant parliamentary inquires. A list of major evaluations is provided at Appendix vii.

      Summaries of research findings were presented as context and issues papers to provide detailed background information and highlight continuing health workforce issues and workforce requirements.

      Stakeholder consultations

      The final phase was in accordance with the Review’s terms of reference, enabling stakeholders to have the opportunity to contribute to the review process. A series of themed stakeholder roundtable meetings, working groups and one on one consultations were held between October and December 2012 to ensure extensive stakeholder engagement in the review.

      A broad range of stakeholders were invited to participate across a number of peak organisations including program fund-holders and within the department.

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      Stakeholder consultation list

      Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Practice Board of Australia
      Allied Health Professions Australia
      Australasian Council of Dental Schools
      Australian and New Zealand Council of Chief Nurses
      Australian Association of Occupational Therapists
      Australian Association of Practice Managers
      Australian Association of Social Workers
      Australian College of Midwives
      Australian College of Nursing
      Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
      Australian Council of Pro Vice-Chancellors and Deans of Health Science
      Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association
      Australian Dental Association
      Australian Dental Council
      Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
      Australian Indigenous Doctors Association
      Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
      Australian Institute of Radiography
      Australian Medical Association
      Australian Medical Council
      Australian Medical Students Association
      Australian Medicare Local Alliance
      Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
      Australian Nursing Federation
      Australian Physiotherapy Association
      Australasian Podiatry Council
      Australian Private Hospitals Association
      Australian Psychological Society
      Australian Rotary Health
      Australian Rural Health Education Network
      Australian Society of Ophthalmologists
      Baptist Community Services
      Catholic Health Australia
      Coalition of National Nursing Organisations
      Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges
      Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils
      Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses
      Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australia
      Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (Australia and New Zealand)
      CRANAPlus - Council of Remote Area Nurses
      Dental Board of Australia
      Dental Hygienists Association of Australia
      Department of Regional Australia, Local Governments, Arts and Sport
      Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
      Dietitians Association of Australia
      Federation of Australian Rural Medical Educators
      General Practice Education and Training Ltd
      General Practice Registrars Australia
      Group of Eight Deans in Medicine
      Health Consumers of Rural and Remote Australia
      Health Workforce Australia
      Health Workforce Principal Committee
      Health Workforce Queensland
      Indigenous Allied Health Australia
      James Cook University
      Kidney Health Australia
      La Trobe University
      Medical Deans of Australia and New Zealand
      Monash University
      Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health
      National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
      National Rural Health Alliance
      National Rural Health Students Network
      Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
      Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit
      Optometrists Association of Australia
      Pharmacy Guild of Australia
      Queensland Health
      Ramsay Healthcare
      Remote Vocational Training Scheme
      Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons
      Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
      Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
      Rural Doctors Association of Australia
      Rural Health Education Foundation
      Rural Health Workforce Australia
      Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health
      Speech Pathology Australia
      University of Melbourne
      University of Sydney

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      The stakeholder roundtable meetings were divided into the following themes to ensure focused discussions:

      • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce;
      • Allied Health Workforce;
      • Dental Workforce;
      • National Health Education;
      • Nursing Workforce;
      • Private Health care;
      • Rural Health Education;
      • Rural Workforce; and
      • Scholarships.

      At the roundtable discussions, each organisation delivered a brief presentation outlining their role, key workforce policy priorities and their views on the development of current workforce programs. At the end of each roundtable session the outcomes were summarised and have been documented at Appendix x.

      Working groups were also convened to discuss both the rural classification system (Australian Standard Geographic Classification – Remoteness Areas) and the Districts of Workforce Shortage classification system. Through these working groups, stakeholders were given the opportunity to identify and discuss issues regarding the classification systems that are currently being used to guide health workforce policy and program development.

      State and territory governments were provided with an opportunity to provide views through the Health Workforce Principal Committee meeting on 15 November 2012. Some states also provided written submissions, as listed at Appendix xi.

      In addition to the above consultations, an opportunity was provided for written submissions to be lodged through the Review’s website, with a total of 26 submissions being received from various organisations. These submissions are listed at Appendix xi.

      A departmental reference group also contributed to the review process and included representatives of divisions including Acute Care, Ageing and Aged Care, Primary and Ambulatory Care, Mental Health and Chronic Disease and the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. The Department’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer also participated, along with the Principal Medical Adviser for Acute Care and Health Workforce Divisions, as a representative of the Chief Medical Officer.