Australia: the healthiest country by 2020
National Preventative Health Strategy - Overview
Ensuring effective implementation – the national infrastructure for prevention
The National Prevention Agency will be viewed as a national leader for prevention in Australia. It must be capable of driving the prevention agenda across many sectors and within a diverse range of stakeholders through collaborative partnerships, coordination of activity at the national, state and local levels, and the provision of strategic advice to inform government policy.
The Taskforce proposes that the model for the agency include the following approaches:
- A national body, established by enabling legislation
- Have an expert, cross-sectoral Board of Governance comprising 10 to 12 members, selected on merit for their expertise
- While the proposed funding under the COAG agreement is welcomed, its capacity and budget will need to be further increased to ensure its national leadership in prevention
- Be a facilitator/coordinator and, as required, implementer and commissioner of interventions through and with partners
- Be independent from but working closely with government, reporting to the Commonwealth Parliament through the Minister for Health as responsible Minister, in consultation with the Prime Minister
- Facilitate the infrastructure for prevention including: social marketing; research, evaluation and the building and transfer of evidence; monitoring and surveillance systems; workforce development; and funding models.
Establishing the NPA in this way provides for an appropriate public and corporate governance model that will reflect the important role prevention plays in the health outcomes of all Australians, and provide reassurance that action is being taken. It will also facilitate a ‘whole of government’ approach to prevention by representing a central point for monitoring implementation and delivery, and provide a framework for accountable, efficient performance.
Roles and functions
These will include:
- Lead and facilitate the building of evidence for preventative health through research and evaluation, and the synthesis and translation of research findings into policy and practice
- Develop and implement comprehensive, sustained social marketing campaigns for obesity, tobacco and alcohol (see below)
- Provide a national clearing house for the monitoring and evaluation of national policies and programs in preventative health
- Publish annual reports on the state of preventative health, including reporting on progress towards the achievement of the 2020 goals specified in this Strategy
- Advise COAG, through AHMC, on national priorities and options for preventative health
- Administer national programs, facilitate national partnerships and advise on national infrastructure for surveillance, monitoring, research and evaluation (see below), as charged by AHMC
- Develop for consideration by AHMC the next phase of preventative health reform to follow after this Strategy
This approach recognises and integrates the substantial contribution to social marketing made by different state and national agencies (both government and non-government). In addition, it acknowledges the differing levels of sophistication and readiness for social marketing across the three priority areas. It would take a national approach on issues of national significance, adopt a pragmatic approach to use resources wisely, use social marketing to affect the social and economic determinants of health, and house a register of social marketing resources.
Data, surveillance and monitoring
Comprehensive and robust monitoring and surveillance systems are a critical requirement for the capture, analysis and interpretation of reliable, nationally consistent population health information.
There are a number of shortcomings at a national level which need to be rectified. Requirements include:
- Development of national data linkage systems, for health and non-health data
- Establishing a national health equity surveillance system
It is proposed that the NPA would take a key role in terms of the development, implementation and evaluation of prevention data, surveillance and monitoring infrastructure through:
- The development, management and benchmarking of evaluation tools to assess the effectiveness and impact of public health interventions
- The establishment of collaborative partnerships with key national agencies and groups
National prevention research infrastructure
It is proposed that a National Strategic Framework to support and drive preventative health research be developed, covering obesity, tobacco and alcohol strategies and including the establishment of a preventative health research fund to:
- Invest in investigator-led, peer-reviewed research, using a common set of measures for comparing outcomes
- Increase priority and strategic research, as recommended in the Wills Review in 1998 and the Grant Review in 2004
- Assist the development of national registers of research
It is proposed that this increased investment would lead to:
- Large-scale, long-term (10–20 years), nationally relevant intervention, translational and dissemination research
- Increasing capacity and focus on research into the social determinants of health and the effects of interventions on reducing inequities
- Increasing capacity and a focus on Indigenous health research
- Long-term research and evaluation projects, such as major cohort studies
- Ensuring that postgraduate research occurs where interventions are taking place or policies are being developed, such as Departments of Health, Education, Planning, Transport, Treasuries, NGOs and local governments
It is proposed that the NPA could facilitate the development and support of the preventative health workforce through:
- A national audit of the health prevention workforce and demographics to identify the workforce planning, strategic development and deployment necessary to build long-term competence and capacity
- The establishment of strategic partnerships with key health workforce bodies, and with key workforce agencies in other sectors
- The enhancement of the public health research workforce, and the skilling up of the preventative health workforce who understand inequity and the social and economic determinants of health
- Ensuring that prevention becomes an important part of the work of the Health Workforce Australia Agency.
Future funding models for prevention
The NPA may be well positioned to guide and inform the identification, examination and development of future funding models for prevention through:
- The investigation and provision of advice in regard to potential funding options for prevention, both within and external to the health sector
- The investigation and provision of advice in regard to the potential development of a funding framework for prevention, both within and external to the health sector, to guide the development and use of a number of funding models.