Month: December 2022

Sustainable Health Review – focus on delivery

In November 2022, Health Consumers’ Council staff attended a WA Health Leadership breakfast with the Minister for Health and Mental Health, Amber-Jade Sanderson, for an update on the Sustainable Health Review (SHR).

After a slow start to implementation, and the disruptions caused by COVID, it was great to hear the Minister reiterate the Government’s commitment to the SHR and its implementation. The Minister was firm in her view that the SHR is about:

  • an equitable patient-centred system
  • a health system, not a hospital system
  • giving a voice to consumers.

She reminded attendees that the SHR outlined the need for courage, collaboration and systems-thinking.

We heard that while WA’s COVID response demonstrated the robustness of the WA health system, it also highlighted its fragility in some areas. The Minister was clear that as we now live with COVID, it’s not about snapping back to how things were before – but that it’s time to make sure that the health system’s actions match community needs.

She outlined that a key priority is addressing emergency access to care – which is a focus for a Ministerial Task Force that was established earlier this year.

Tim Marney, Chief Economist at Nous Consulting, and Chair of the Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) for the SHR then spoke about how the focus for the IOC is very much on delivery. There will be a new focus on implementation.

As part of that, it has been agreed to provide focused support to a smaller number of recommendations (there are 30 in total in the SHR) to enable implementation to be accelerated in these critical areas:

  • Recommendation 11: Improve timely access to outpatient services through:
    a) Moving routine, non-urgent and less complex specialist outpatient services out of hospital settings in partnership with primary care.
    b) Requiring all metropolitan Health Service Providers to progressively provide telehealth consultations for 65 per cent of outpatient services for country patients by July 2022.
  • Recommendation 13: Implement models of care in the community for groups of people with complex conditions who are frequent presenters to hospital.
  • Recommendation 17: Implement a new funding and commissioning model for the WA health system from July 2021 focused on quality and value for the patient and community, supporting new models of care and joint commissioning
  • Recommendation 22: Invest in a phased 10-year digitisation of theWA health system to empower citizens withgreater health information, to enable access
    to innovative, safe and efficient services; and
    to improve, promote and protect the health of Western Australians.
  • Recommendation 23: Build a systemwide culture of courage, innovation
    and accountability that builds on the existing
    pride, compassion and professionalism of staff to support collaboration for change
  • Recommendation 26: Build capability in workforce planning and formally partner with universities, vocational training institutes and professional colleges to shape the skills and curriculum to develop the health and social care workforce of the future

Tim was clear to point out that this did not signal that the other recommendations were less important and reiterated that work on these would continue.

He also highlighted that a number of the recommendations including Recommendation 3 with a focus on health equity and Recommendation 4 with a focus on citizen and community partnership – and for which Suzanna Robertson, HCC’s Executive Director is a co-lead – should be seen as underpinning all the other recommendations.

Health Consumers’ Council continue to advocate for targeted consumer and lived experience partnership and involvement in all the SHR work and look forward to learning more about how this will work for the six prioritised recommendations.

(By Clare Mullen, Deputy Director, Health Consumers’ Council)

Consumer participation payment – HCC process change

Starting in 2023, Health Consumers’ Council will be changing our process when we ask for a consumer’s information to make a consumer participation payment. This change is to ensure that appropriate records are being kept and is due to Australian rule changes.

We will require people to complete a “Statement by supplier” form (for the Australian Tax Office).  The form may be necessary to receive payment from us without an ABN. If you receive this form from us, we will detail why it is required – please reach out to us if you need this further clarified before completing the form. Additionally, if you require any assistance in completing the form we have provided, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.  

Health Consumers’ Council, WA

2022 Response to WA Abortion Reform Consultation

Link to a PDF copy of our response is here:

2022 Response to WA Abortion Reform Consultation

Re: Request for Submission and Sharing of the Abortion Reform Consultation Process

Health Consumers’ Council thanks you (Dr Robertson) for reaching out to us and requesting our engagement with this consultation on Abortion Legislation in WA. We agree that these laws are long overdue for revision and reform and we have shared the consultation with our networks.

The Health Consumers’ Council of WA unequivocally stands for the rights of all people to access free, decriminalised, safe, timely and compassionate abortion care as part of essential healthcare and support the removal of access to abortion from the Criminal Code.

Earlier in the year, we added our signature to the Australia position statement on the Roe v Wade decision in the US published by Children by Choice, and welcomed the WA Minister for Health speaking on reproductive rights and equitable access to abortion for women and people with uteruses across WA, and we have been welcoming of the safe access zone legislation.

We know that accessing free, high quality, comprehensive abortion care in WA is difficult for many people. Factors including someone’s suburb or town, finances, the availability of clear, accessible, and culturally appropriate health information, and the lack of public services all impact on someone’s ability to access the care they need. We also know from MSI Australia that First Nations’ peoples, trans and gender diverse peoples, members of migrant and refugee communities, people on temporary visas, and people with disabilities can face additional barriers to abortion care that are further impacted by age, economic status, stigma, and discrimination. We affirm everyone’s individual right to choose what is best for them. Access to abortion is not a moral or religious debate, it is a healthcare right that centers on choice, respect, and self-determination.

Health Consumers’ Council knows from our engagement with the WA community that all stated options in question 9 have been and continue to be barriers to accessing abortion, particularly for people who may be marginalised, who are young, who are Aboriginal, who are Culturally & Linguistically Diverse and who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. We anticipate that even with the proposed amendments, there will continue to be barriers until more is done to address timely access to clinical assessments, medical practitioner’s conscientious objections, health literacy/accessibility of relevant, plain-language information, financial impact for anyone not able to access bulk-billed abortion services, rights around age & access, lack of service provision throughout the state and especially lack of remote/rural services. We also recognise and stand with current abortion providers who recognise the stated barriers for service provision as stated in question 12.

Health Consumers’ Council would also like to respond to and note some nuances around the remaining submission questions:

Question Thirteen – While we agree that the need for mandatory counselling should be removed for this essential healthcare service, we s also agree that every person should still be able to easily access timely, cost-effective counselling and support around abortion if they choose.

Questions Fourteen & Fifteen – In order to increase equitable access to safe abortion, we believe that, in the same way any other form of healthcare treatment or procedure is approved, only one medical practitioner should be needed for a person to access an abortion. We also believe that if a medical practitioner should conscientiously object, they should be required to refer on in a timely manner to someone confirmed to affirm abortion, with tight processes around this stated publicly. For example, a clear and publicly available procedure that people seeking abortion can easily access and follow confidently when advocating for their rights. We believe that abortion care is healthcare and as such, access to abortion is a healthcare right. Health practitioners should do everything in their power to advocate and uphold the choices of their patients wanting to access abortion, whether they agree morally or not.

Questions Sixteen & Seventeen – We support increasing the gestational age to 24 weeks, while also noting the nuances and community concern for issues like eugenics and Disabled People’s right to life. We believe that increases in gestational limits are much needed. Less than 1% of abortions occur at later pregnancy gestations, they are experienced people who face complex situations, and they need to have kind and compassionate care (MSI, 2022). As viability of a pre-term foetus is often debated, and no universal consensus has been reached, this can be an ethical consideration of many people in Australia. However, access to abortion is not equitable, and therefore extensions on gestational limits are vital to uphold the right to choose and access health care. If the pregnant person chooses an abortion at any stage, there should be no involvement from anyone besides the pregnant person and their healthcare provider/s, with appropriate consultations around specific, high-risk procedures. We strongly support the repeal of the Ministerial ‘Ethics’ Panel on abortion, and we advocate for clear processes to be implemented and publicly available for the proposed second medical practitioner consultation for late term abortion.

Question Eighteen – We believe that there should be no requirement for Ministerial approval for a health service to perform abortions, provided the health services are equipped to do so safely. Further, we believe that any suitably equipped health service receiving public funding should be required to provide timely, legal, high-quality, free, and safe access to abortions at any stage, for anyone living or residing in Western Australia. We also note that repealing the Ministerial involvement via approval and panels will hopefully increase the availability of free abortions and the prevalence of services providing this vital healthcare, and urge the WA Government to invest more into making abortion accessible in every way.

Health Consumers’ Council provide individual advocacy to consumers of healthcare across WA and will continue to advocate individually and systemically for equitable access to all healthcare, including access to timely, safe, free, and legal abortion, for everyone living in WA, especially those who have been marginalised. We will continue to advocate with community for improved access to information and access to reproductive rights, contraception, culturally competent care, and gender and sexuality affirming care.

The Health Consumers’ Council welcomes the opportunity to assist further in consulting with community and providing advice to policy makers to enable much needed change to abortion laws in WA.




We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities as the Traditional Custodians of the land we work on, specifically the Wadjuk people of the Noongar nation, and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded and commit to continuing advocacy for anti-racism in the health sector.