On 28 November 2019, the Queensland Minister for Health, the Hon Dr Steven Miles, introduced the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (Qld) (“the Bill”) to the Legislative Assembly. On 13 August 2020, the Bill passed with amendments, and is currently awaiting assent.
The reforms under this Bill aim to better protect and improve the health of Queenslanders through improvement of the public health governance framework. Some of the amendments proposed under this Bill are part of the government response to the recommendations given by a 2019 expert panel, which examined the Queensland Department of Health governance framework.
In March 2019, the Queensland Department of Health engaged an expert panel ("the Panel") to provide advice to the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services, in regards to the health governance framework. The Panel was asked to examine areas critical to the Department’s ability to meet the needs of the community, and implement government policies in a timely manner.
In its final report, published in June 2019, the Panel made a total of 28 recommendations. Broadly, the Panel found that greater emphasis needed to be put in developing a network of governance, as opposed to a system, and that those in leadership positions needed to hold greater responsibility and accountability for their roles. However, the Panel noted that any changes to the governance framework must support the continuing quality and safety of healthcare delivery.
The Queensland Government has since committed to implement the Panel’s recommendations within a 12 to 18 month period.
The current framework for the delivery of publicly funded health services within Queensland is largely provided by the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (Qld) (“the Hospital Act”). The public health system comprises of the Department of Health and 16 other Hospital and Health Services (“H&H Services”). Each of these H&H Services are governed by a Hospital and Health Board (“H&H Board”), which is managed by a Health Service Chief Executive, and are responsible and accountable for the delivery of these services.
The Bill proposes that in order to strengthen the networked governance in Queensland’s public health system, H&H Services and H&H Boards are to consider the use of resources for the public health system as a whole, in order to take into account mutual and reciprocal obligations. Furthermore, H&H Services and the ambulance service are to collaborate on their mutual obligations.
The Bill also seeks to amend the Hospital Act by requiring each H&H Board to have one or more Aboriginal persons and/or Torres Strait Islander persons as members. Additionally, each H&H Board is also to have a strategy for achieving health equity for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people.
When assented, the Bill will be the first law in Australia that bans conversion therapy. The Bill seeks to amend the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) in order to prohibit the practice of conversion therapy by health service providers in Queensland. The new offence applies to health service practitioners, including unregistered health practitioners such as counsellors, naturopaths, and social workers.
Other amendments proposed under this Bill include:
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Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (Qld) and explanatory materials available from TimeBase's LawOne Service
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