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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1260 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

"Setting the Agenda" uses the World Health Organisation definition of health: "A state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". This definition underlines the centrality of issues such as access and equity; consumer participation and empowerment; partnerships, both within the health system and across the community; and continuously improving integration, coordination and continuity of care to develop a seamless system.

"Setting the Agenda" emphasises a focus on the health of the population, on promoting health and preventing illness, on primary health care to provide for people at home and in the community and on access to a high-quality hospital system when clinically necessary. This requires a shift in our thinking and delivery of health services. It requires a shift from a narrow focus on illness treatment to a broader focus on health and wellbeing. It requires more emphasis on improving partnerships between health professionals and customers, between health workers and the community, between the government and the non-government health sectors, and within government.

Mr Speaker, we expect a greater demand for our health services as our population ages. We expect more, and often more expensive, treatments to become available. We also know we have limited resources. We need to put those resources where they will be most effective. We need better evidence of success to justify our health interventions if we are to achieve the best possible health outcomes within our finite resources. In short, as a clever health service, we need to stop people becoming ill or injured. We need to act quickly when we detect risks and early signs of problems, and we need to provide timely and effective treatment when illness and injury occur. This means a greater role for home-based community care and a correspondingly reduced emphasis on hospital care as a centrepiece of our health system.

Acute care in hospitals remains an important component of our health service, but it should not overshadow the need for comprehensive and continuing health care in the community setting, both for promoting health and for treating illness. "Setting the Agenda" provides a clear direction for the many dedicated people working within the health and community care system. It will help inform all citizens of the ACT of our directions and our commitment to them. It is also the basis for further consultation with the health community and the wider community to ensure we work together in partnership with a shared understanding of our health priorities and approaches.

Mr Speaker, an essential aspect of any new direction is evaluation, making sure that we are doing what we intended and that we are achieving our objectives. We will regularly review our performance in implementing "Setting the Agenda", and I have requested that the Department of Health and Community Care report on overall progress in its annual report, which will also inform this Assembly of progress. Mr Speaker, I am pleased to table "Setting the Agenda" in this Assembly.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (3.41): I would just like to make a few comments on the report, if I may. As I have indicated previously, I welcome the fact that the Minister commissioned the report. The report has been published. I think anything that can be done to facilitate the debate in relation to the direction which public health and community health in the ACT take is to be encouraged, and I welcome that.

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