By Ashleigh McMillan
Optometry Australia acting CEO Kirsty Machon participated in the Australia Labor Party Health Summit on 3 March.
The event comprised plenary lectures, with ALP leader Bill Shorten opening and closing the summit, and shadow health minister Catherine King addressing the 150 assembled health representatives.
Ms Machon, as part of a delegation of members of Allied Health Professions Australia, attended roundtable discussions on primary care and the future of the health workforce.
Ms Machon said that the summit was an opportunity for a broad range of health stakeholders, including health professions, consumer organisations, hospitals and various professions, to come together and discuss ways of improving health care in Australia more broadly.
‘What was really strong and heard across all professions was that there’s a viable Australian health workforce, but it is now necessary to investigate ways of funding systems that actually make the best use of that workforce and that encourage referral pathways.
‘While Medicare is important and there should be attention paid to the indexation freeze, in the longer term to make health care sustainable we also need to be putting in place systems and policies which get the best use out our health care workforce, including optometrists.
‘Health care professionals are looking for consistency in funding cycles that let you see whether new programs or reforms are actually working over the longer term. Delegates at the conference also stressed the need for local community involvement to help understand health priorities, and better use of all the professions. Recommendations were also put forward about collaborative models of care that are genuinely novel and break away from the usual assumptions about the health workforce.
‘The ALP will take all the recommendations put forward on the day, and its expectation is that it will use them to create a better, more rounded health-care policy platform.
‘Mr Shorten and Ms King also reinforced their commitment to Medicare and removing the indexation freeze,’ Ms Machon said.