Consumers Shaping Health
Volume 12, Issue 1, 2017
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2017 off to a fast start
Welcome back to another year. Already much has been happening, with much more on the agenda for the year.


We have a new Health Minister in Greg Hunt. In a welcome move, he reached out to CHF very early in his tenure to touch base. We discussed CHF’s ideas for a better health system in detail. This week CHF Chair, Tony Lawson and I had a lengthy face-to-face meeting with Minister Hunt about his vision for a national health plan and preventative health. We advocated that these undertakings need to be informed by consumer and community aspirations and expectations of our health system. The Minister agreed to work with us on a Consumer Roundtable to provide the opportunity to bring together key consumer groups and advocates to ensure that the national health plan is shaped from a consumer and community perspective.

Our priorities for 2017 focus on the “5 P’s”; Primary Health Care, Private Health Insurance, Pharmacy, Prevention, and Patient Safety and Participation. Our Submission to the Federal Treasurer for Federal Budget 2017-18, ‘Consumer Focussed Commitments’, goes into what we want to see in these priority areas in more detail. Our core request beyond adequate financial resourcing for the health system is for COAG to develop a true forward looking strategy that builds a national vision for our health system.

Our first major campaign for the year has launched, asking consumers to check and make sure their private health insurance is in fact, ‘Healthy Cover’. The response so far has been heartening, with coverage in the Guardian and a decent number of responses to the survey. We ask that those who choose to hold private health insurance take the time to go through the checklist and survey. A very big thank you to everyone who has already helped spread the word about Healthy Cover. The more voices we can gather, the better we can make our combined voice heard.

I’d like to close on a sad note. Sally Crossing was an incredible woman and absolutely pivotal in the growth of health consumers in Australia. Her grace, courage and empathy touched thousands, and her legacy will continue to touch many more. Read our commemorative statement about Sally here.

Leanne Wells
Chief Executive Officer
Consumers Health Forum


In this Issue:

Recent Publications
Consumer Representative Resources
Consultations and Surveys

Click the headings to go to that part of Consumers Shaping Health


We have two upcoming Policy Webinars in March, open to all and totally free. We also publish events from friends and partners - see for more information.

Policy Webinar: Overview of the Australian Health System

8th of March, 2017 — 12:15pm

This one hour webinar will help you gain a deeper understanding of how the Australian Health System works. With so much change afoot, it's important to have an understanding of how the whole system fits together. Register here.

Policy Webinar: Current Areas of Australian Health Reform

15th of March, 2017 — 12:15pm

Join us for an hour to talk about current areas of health reform happening in Australia. Health reform in Australia is a hot topic, with many projects and programs being discussed, developed or actioned. Register here.

Recent Publications 

CHF submitted three policy submissions to various reviews and inquiries in the recent months. Summer is a quiet period for submissions, so the policy team has been working behind the scenes on a range of issues to work on in 2017.

A complete list of our publications is available at

Submission to the Federal Treasurer for Federal Budget 2017-18

As the peak national body for consumer's involvement in health CHF supports the development of an efficient, inclusive and accessible health system. We call on the Federal Government to take action in two key ways: to develop a national vision for our health system and to adequately resource it. Click the title above to read the full submission for more information on our position in a number of areas.

Submission to the Digital Health Agency Discussion Paper

This is a brief initial submission in response to the discussion paper released by the Agency in November 2016. We look forward to working with the Agency to involve consumers more and to progress and resolve the issues raised in this submission and by other consumers through the consultation process.

Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Price Regulation associated with the Prostheses List Framework

Private Health Insurance and the unaffordability of premiums is one of the most frequently raised issues with CHF by consumers. We welcomed the announcement in October 2016 of reductions of the price of some items on the prostheses list. If these cuts lead to a lower level of premium increase in the next round of premium increases then consumers will benefit. However, to get longer term and more sustainable reductions in premiums the government needs to take a broader, more systemic approach with a robust price disclosure regime across all medical devices. We are also concerned that, other than some commitments in the media, insurers are under no obligation to pass on the savings gained through the recent cuts to consumers.

Submission to the draft Australian code for the responsible conduct of research

We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the revised draft of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research as part of our ongoing relationship with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). CHF is concerned about the lack of direct reference to consumers being involved in research.


After the Christmas-New Year lull, media activity cranked up with the appointment of a new Health Minister, Greg Hunt, then the announcement of health insurance rate increases. Leanne did several interviews with ABC national radio on issues including Mr Hunt’s appointment and the PHI increases.

Below are some of our major Media Releases. For a full list of our Media Releases see


Major Media Mentions

Leave price rises to us to decide, private health insurers tell Greg Hunt in The Australian- we 'welcomed the "modest decline in this year’s rise" but said it was still three times the inflation rate and would cost families another $200 or more each year.'

The Weekly Times rightly said Private health insurance a tough sell in the bush. Leanne was quoted as saying, "The solution for better health care (in the bush) is to increase community health services, multipurpose and preventiveand give the primary healthcare network more funds to provide these services. Rebates are just part of the solution but we want a more comprehensive set of arrangements."

In an interview on Radio National's World Today about the size of the portfolio the incoming Health Minister would have, Leanne pointed out that not just the portfolio is large, but the pipeline of vital reforms at various stages of implementation.

We also featured in Radio National's PM with Mark Colvin program in a story titled, 'Calls to increase fines for misleading consumers, after Nurofen makers stung $6 million'. Leanne strongly made the point that patients experiencing pain are vulnerable people, and patients should not be preyed upon with many spending hundreds of dollars more than necessary for pain products. All medication manufacters have obligations about quality use of medicine, and transparent and honest marketing.


Media Releases
Public hospital funding crisis highlights need for reforms

17 Feb 2017

The AMA public hospital report card released today highlights that our hospitals and broader health system are facing a funding crisis.

Time for complementary medicines to show proof

14 Feb 2017

It’s time to end the marketing practices that can mislead people about the health benefits of many complementary medicine products and require complementary medicines to show whether or not they have proven efficacy..

Another hit to health insurance costs underlines need for real reforms

10 Feb 2017

The latest above-inflation rise in health insurance underlines the need for more effective and longer term reforms to deliver better value for people who have private health insurance.

PM’s preventive health focus a welcome hint. Here’s hoping for much more

1 Feb 2017

The Prime Minister’s promise of a new focus on preventive health marks a welcome development after some years of federal inactivity in this area.

CHF Welcomes Minister Hunt

18 Jan 2017

The Health portfolio is currently in the midst of a wide range of changes and reforms, and we look forward to engaging with the new Minister to progress these important issues.

Let’s make the health fund rebate really work for consumers

4 January 2017

Proposed reforms of private health insurance must ensure that consumers and taxpayers get a better deal from the $6 billion rebate on health fund policies.

Codeine decision underlines need for better pain services

20 Dec 2017

The decision to make codeine medications prescription-only underlines the need for more effective services for many Australians with pain, the Consumers Health Forum and Painaustralia have said in a joint statement.


Blogs & Op-eds
Healthy challenges await new minister

1 Feb 2017

It is encouraging that Malcolm Turnbull has asserted a new focus on the previously abandoned area of preventive health, promising to give people “the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives”. More boldly, the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has set himself the ambitious long term health strategy of seeking to build Australia’s health system to be "the best in the world". Making it work however we believe will challenge the Government to consider options that have been previously been ruled out: like new revenue sources and rethinking current “savings” measures.

PM’s preventive health focus a welcome hint. Here’s hoping for much more

10 Feb 2017 - Blog

The Prime Minister’s promise of a new focus on preventive health marks a welcome development after some years of federal inactivity in this area.

What happened at the OECD's #FutureOfHealth Policy Forum

31 Jan 2017 - Blog

On the 16th and 17th of January 2017, global health leaders converged on Paris for a policy forum and ministerial meeting. A huge amount of content was covered, and to give you some insight into the outcomes and trends that featured in the discussion, we've put together this Storify roundup of videos, tweets and thoughts.

Health a No. 1 concern requiring national leadership

6 Jan 2017 - Fairfax Oped

Evidence-based and well-resourced health systems improve national productivity, and are more cost-effective and equitable. Over time, moving to models of care which promote services being integrated will benefit consumers. Integrated care which puts the needs of people and communities, not diseases, at the centre of health systems and empowers consumers to take charge of their own health will spur practical and local health and social care solutions.

Overcoming our mental health illusion

20 Dec 2016 - Blog

At a time when demonstrated need so often overwhelms the services available, the Mental Health Plan has done little to inspire hope. Lack of consumer consultation, the absence of consideration of how new and existing workforces might be better developed and failure to mention non-government involvement all indicate a disengagement with the real world dilemmas - and solutions - to our mental health plight.

Consumer Representative Resources

Helping the health consumer voice be heard at the decision making table is a key part of our mission. This section features some of the community building and content development we've done recently to help people become better and more connected consumer representatives.

CHF Health Consumer Reps Connect Facebook Group

Facebook Group

If you’re a current rep, past rep or a potential future rep, join the CHF Consumer Reps Connect Facebook group. It's open to all comers, not just those who have a relationship with CHF - so if you know anyone who might benefit from this growing community, please let them know to join.

Consultations and Surveys

We are committed to helping the consumer voice reach decision makers and have an impact on policy direction. Click the headings below to find out how you can make your voice heard, or find the most up to date list at

Accreditation Systems Review

COAG - Closes 1 May 2017

This Discussion Paper forms part of the consultation process and raises issues for consideration and debate about the current accreditation systems for health professions. Interested parties are invited to provide feedback at one of the national consultation forums (RSVP details available in the Accreditation Systems Review Bulletin 2: February 2017) and/or via a written submission.

Review of Competency Standards for Occupational Therapy Practice

Occupational Therapy Board of Australia - Closes 30 March 2017

The Occupational Therapy Board of Australia invites you to provide your comments on this consultation paper by 30 March 2017. You can provide your feedback to them through the online consultation survey (link is external) or in a written submission emailed to the Board.

Reforms to the Regulatory framework for Complementary Medicines: Assessment Pathways

TGA - Closes 28 March 2017

CHF has participated in TGA consultations on the implementation of reforms on Medicines and Medical Device regulation. We co-convened a TGA consumer consultation forum on the reform agenda on 19 December. The TGA is seeking comments from interested parties on a range of reforms to the regulatory framework for complementary medicines to address the Government- agreed recommendations from the Review of Medicines and Medical Devices regulation.

Benefits of becoming a CHF member

As a member of CHF you will be kept up to date on key health reform issues through our publications and member alerts. CHF membership enables you to influence the national health agenda by contributing to CHF surveys and polls, consultations and campaigns. Members can draw on CHF position statements, media releases and policy submissions to inform your work and advocacy.

Find out more about membership here.

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