Policy and Government Relations Branch

Multicultural Health Policy Unit

Comments were sought on a proposed ACT Health strategic framework intended to improve the organisation's responsiveness to the health needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The draft strategic framework drew on previous community consultation in 2011-12 relating to a review of the Canberra Hospital Migrant Health Unit. A guided feedback form was used to gather comments from organisations active in the multicultural sector. Feedback was received from the Canberra Multicultural Community Forum, which sought comments from member organisations, including the ACT Chinese Australian Association, ACT Chinese Aged Care Information and Referral Service, Ethnic Disability ACT, Australian Muslim Voice, and the Integrated Women's Network. In addition, comments were received from ACT Human Rights Commission, Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (Victoria), HCCA, ACT Multicultural Mental Health Network, Companion House, ACT Council of Social Service, Public Health Association of Australia (ACT Branch), ACT Medicare Local and the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs.

The comments received informed the development of a final draft. ACT Health Executive Council subsequently endorsed the document Towards Culturally Appropriate and Inclusive Services: a Co-ordinating Framework for ACT Health, 2014-2018. Letters were sent to all participating organisations providing responses to the comments made and indicating what amendments to the document had been made as a result.

Chronic and Primary Health Care Policy Unit

During 2012 ACT Health developed the ACT Palliative Care Services Plan 2012-2017. This plan incorporated the development of strategies for new and emerging models of care in palliative service provision and the development of more integrated services across acute, sub-acute and community health, and addressed service gaps. The development of this plan also involved an examination of likely demand projections, workforce needs now and in the future, community education and support for non-government organisations, and identified possible future models of care. The plan was released by the Minister for Health on 28 October 2013. It was very well received by the ACT Health sector, ACT palliative care stakeholders and the broader ACT community.

The ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Sexual Health, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and Related Diseases (SHAHRD) conducted a community consultation forum in May 2013 entitled 'The Future of HIV Prevention in the ACT'. Specific aims of the forum were to share research results with a broader community, to develop an understanding of the changing ACT context for HIV prevention and to provide an opportunity for networking in the sector. Approximately 25 interested community members attended. Guest speakers from the University of New South Wales Ian Down, Assoc. Prof. Garrett Prestage and Dr Martin Holt shared their respective research on the Canberra Gay Community Periodic Survey and the HIV Seroconversion Study. An associated HIV clinical care meeting with the same guest speakers was held for local clinicians. The aim of this meeting was to encourage ACT-based clinicians to discuss and translate ACTbased HIV research results into practice. Approximately 25 clinicians attended this meeting.

Mental Health Policy Unit

Men's Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Conference

In June 2013-14, the Mental Health Policy Unit was part of a planning committee that developed a conference focusing on men's mental health and suicide prevention. Other partners included the Australian Federal Police, OzHelp, Menslink and Lifeline. The fourth annual Men's Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Conference heard from Professor John MacDonald of the University of Western Sydney about men's mental health and the challenges men face. A number of seminars were aimed at particular stages in a man's life. The overriding intention of the conference was considering ways to increase the numbers of men attending services and those who seek help. The conference was attended by around 105 people, largely from community organisation service provision backgrounds. Feedback was very positive, and consideration is underway as to whether a similar event will be held in 2014-15.

Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill

Public consultations following the release of the second exposure draft of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill continued in 2013-14. Early in the review it was agreed that proposed amendments to the act would go through a two-stage exposure draft process so that the community and stakeholders could be confident that their contributions had been considered. The process was complemented by meetings with stakeholder groups, briefings to members of the Legislative Assembly and an iterative process with the review's advisory group, which included over 40 key stakeholders, including the ACT Human Rights Commission, consumer and carer representatives, advocacy groups from the mental health and disability areas, clinicians and other participants from the Health, Justice and Community Services directorates. Despite a great diversity of views and interests, a spirit of cooperation prevailed on the advisory group and a high level of consensus was achieved.

The Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill 2014 was formally tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on 15 May 2014. The bill reflects significant changes occurring internationally, with the inclusion of decision-making capacity as a criterion to decide whether people make their own decisions about treatment. The bill also seeks to reflect developments in human rights law in the ACT over recent years.

Aged and Community Care

Executive planning forum

The executive planning day explored the potential impact of the NDIS on the delivery of community care services in the ACT and specifically considered those clients who may not be eligible for access to services under the NDIS. The key objectives of the forum were to:

  • increase understanding of potential gaps in service delivery for clients not covered by aged care reform and the NDIS
  • seek input from stakeholders into what type of ACT program could best address these service gaps in the future and
  • identify the pathway forward to developing a new or revised ACT community support program.

Approximately 45 representatives from 19 community organisations attended the forum. Participants identified a number of potential support needs that may not be addressed by the NDIS, including complex case management, advocacy, information and carer support, and responsive services in areas of palliative care, hospital discharge and clients with chronic health conditions. Participants demonstrated a commitment to continue to work collaboratively towards developing an appropriate range of services and an associated service delivery framework within the ACT, to address any gaps left after the introduction of the NDIS. Further consultation will take place in 2014-15.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit

Antenatal Care, Pre-pregnancy and Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Health (APTS RH) Project

The Antenatal Care, Pre-pregnancy and Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Health (APTSRH) Project is an initiative under element 2 of the Council of Australian Governments National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development. The project aims to increase provision of sexual and reproductive health services, antenatal care and early parenting support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

In 2013-14, the APTSRH Project included broad consultation, community engagement and support with a range of stakeholders, including schools and community organisations such as the Tedd Noffs Foundation, Canberra College Cares, the Indigenous Social Inclusion Company and Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.

The project is also monitored by the APTSRH Advisory Group, which includes representation from The Junction Youth Health Service, Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation, West Belconnen Child and Family Centre, Canberra Sexual Health Centre, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT, and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service. Two advisory group meetings were held in 2013-14, with additional out-of-session consultation via email. In that time, the APTSRH Project also included:

  • 53 Core of Life (COL) sessions, delivered to 12 organisations, with approximately 611 participants across all sessions
  • a COL network meeting, held in October 2013, attended by nine participants
  • distribution of two COL newsletters
  • a COL facilitators training workshop, held in October 2013, attended by 13 participants
  • approximately 27 sexual health youth outreach sessions, across 10 organisations, with approximately 270 participants
  • a COL and sexual health information and testing stall as part of the NAIDOC on the Peninsula event in July 2013, attended by approximately 4500 people and
  • extensive consultation with local stakeholders on the development of resources for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including two DVDs: Give it a go, a breastfeeding resource, and Young Parenting, a new beginning.


The project will continue in 2014-15 with funding under the new Commonwealth Indigenous Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Health and Young Parenting Support program.

Women, Youth and Child Health Policy Unit

Whole-of-government Commitment to Children and Young People

Community engagement was sought to develop a whole-of-government commitment to children and young people in the ACT, which is being developed in partnership with the Community Services Directorate.

Consultation has included an online survey on the Time to Talk website, along with two paper surveys for children and young people. Through the different engagement activities, there were more than 1200 responses to the survey.

More than 65 non-government partners were invited to undertake the survey. ACT Health staff spoke to children, young people and their parents and carers in the paediatric ward, high-care paediatric ward, paediatric outpatient clinic and hospital school within the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. These conversations led to 27 surveys being completed. Twenty-four surveys were completed at a second community engagement activity, at the Civic Bus Interchange.

The outcome of the community consultation and engagement will inform the first draft of the Whole-of-government Commitment to Children and Young People. The draft commitment will then be sent out for a second round of community consultation later in 2014.