The Australian Government’s Productivity Commission released a study report on the first stage of their inquiry into Human Services on 5 December 2016. Titled ‘Identifying Sectors of Reform’, the inquiry has been established to “develop policy options to improve service provision” in Human Services with a particular emphasis on “increased application of competition, contestability and informed user choice”. The study report named six areas for further reform, including Public Hospital Services, and will now look at specific recommendations for what this reform will look like.

Whilst VAHPA welcomes a discussion about how we can improve services for our community, VAHPA is concerned that this inquiry has fixated on “competition” and similar elements of privatisation as being the only ways to improve human services, despite all the contradictory evidence demonstrating the negative impact privatisation has on employees, consumers, and the community. VAHPA believes any inquiry should undertake a study of human services to determine what aspects need improvement, and then explore all alternatives for improving services rather than the current narrow focus on market-based elements, a point that VAHPA raised in an earlier submission to the Commission.

Given the Commission’s narrow scope of only recommending reforms to introduce further privatisation, the reforms to public hospital services would be likely to adversely affect the vulnerable members of our community as well as a significant number of our members as employees, your colleagues, and the wider public. VAHPA also holds concerns over the effect the current proposals will have on job security and in shifting the focus away from the provision of professional health services.

VAHPA encourages members to consider making a submission to the issues paper (see pages 20-25 for Public Hospital-specific information requests) or to contribute feedback to be considered for VAHPA’s submission. Submissions are due on Friday 10 February 2017 – please send feedback for VAHPA’s submission by Monday 6 February to