Victorian health consumers are set for a new and enhanced policy and program agenda following the recent Federal Election and Victorian State Budget.
Welcoming the new Health Minister, Mark Butler
We welcome the Hon. Mark Butler MP as the new Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care.
A few key facts about the Minister:
- He sits in the House of Representatives – for the electorate of Hindmarsh, South Australia
- He entered Parliament in 2007
- Previous Ministerial roles include: Mental Health and Ageing; Social Inclusion; Housing; Climate Change; and Environment.
- Qualifications: First Class Honours Law degree, an Arts degree and a Master’s degree in International Relations
- Close associates include Penny Wong and Don Farrell
- Author of Advanced Australia – The Politics of Ageing (2015) and Climate Wars (2017).
- Awarded the Alzheimer’s Disease International Award for Outstanding Global Contribution to the Fight Against Dementia (2013)
Previous roles include:
- Union official – 1992 to 2007 (Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, which includes cleaners, hospital workers, childcare workers, workers in aged care and disabilities, and others)
- Chair Barbara Pocock’s Centre for Work and Life at the University of South Australia
- Member of the South Australian Social Inclusion Board; Had input into South Australia’s Social Inclusion Initiative
He has welcomed taking on this portfolio including in this tweet:
Labor is the Party of Medicare and it is now our responsibility to strengthen Australia’s world-class healthcare system. I'm honoured to take on the job as Minister for Health and Aged Care in the Albanese Government. pic.twitter.com/g0hwlUbAER
— Mark Butler MP (@Mark_Butler_MP) May 31, 2022
Federal health consumer announcements
The new Federal Labor Government made several health-related commitments during the campaign. Headline items include:
- $750m Strengthening Medicare Fund – implement recommendations from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, which will immediately commence work deciding on the highest priorities
- $220m Strengthening Medicare GP Grants – Grants of $25K-$50k for GP practices. Funds can be used for activities including (but not limited to) upgrading IT systems and upskilling staff
- 50 New Medicare Urgent Care Clinics
- Reducing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme general co-payment from the current maximum of $42.50 per script to $30.
There were additional items for digital health:
- Restoring regional mental telehealth services for regional and remote telehealth psychiatry consultations.
- More doctors and health professionals for regional Australia boosting workforce incentives for rural and regional GPs to support the engagement of nurses, allied health and other health professionals and provide multidisciplinary team-based care.
Other announcements included increasing the number of newborn screening conditions from around 25 to 80, First Nations health programs, establishing a National Nurse and Midwife Health Support Service, a National Melanoma Nurse Network, widening eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, and funding for HIV representative organisations.
The new Labor Government has also committed to a new Federal Budget in October.
Victoria’s recent budget was pitched as a healthcare budget and subtitled ‘Putting Patients First.’ We wrote a summary for healthcare consumers about what this means for you, and an associated media release.