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Sunday, November 30, 2008

COAG on performance in health and education sectors

Here are extracts from the COAG Communique released after yesterday's meeting 0n agreement reached between the Prime Minister and the premiers regarding increased transparency and accountability in the school and health systems. I'll be interested to see what experts in these fields make of what the PM and others involved say are big steps forward.


All jurisdictions agreed to a new performance reporting framework. COAG agreed that high‑quality accountability and reporting is important for students, parents, carers and the community. It is also important for tracking the achievement of the COAG targets.

The reporting agreed by all governments includes:

  • streamlined and consistent reports on national progress, including an annual national report on the outcomes of schooling in Australia;
  • national reporting on performance of individual schools to inform parents and carers and for evaluation by governments of school performance; and
  • provision by schools of plain language student reports to parents and carers and an annual report made publicly available to their school community on the school’s achievements and other contextual information.

COAG agreed to a set of performance indicators to indicate progress towards achieving the agreed outcomes, with particular reporting on outcomes for Indigenous students and students from low socio-economic status communities.

COAG noted that funding for the non-government school sector is being appropriated through separate Commonwealth legislation – the Schools Assistance Bill 2008 and that the accountability framework for non-government schools and school systems will be consistent with that of the new National Education Agreement.

COAG agreed that the new Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority will be supplied with the information necessary to enable it to publish relevant, nationally‑comparable information on all schools to support accountability, school evaluation, collaborative policy development and resource allocation. The Authority will provide the public with information on each school in Australia that includes data on each school’s performance, including national testing results and school attainment rates, the indicators relevant to the needs of the student population and the school’s capacity including the numbers and qualifications of its teaching staff and its resources. The publication of this information will allow comparison of like schools (that is, schools with similar student populations across the nation) and comparison of a school with other schools in their local community.


The Commonwealth and the States have also agreed to the following objectives and outcomes for the health and hospital system. These are:

  • children are born and remain healthy;
  • Australians manage the key risk factors that contribute to ill health;
  • Australians have access to the support, care and education they need to make healthy choices;
  • the primary health care needs of all Australians are met effectively through timely and quality care in the community;
  • people with complex care needs can access comprehensive, integrated and coordinated services;
  • Australians receive high-quality hospital and hospital related care;
  • older Australians receive high-quality, affordable health and aged care services that are appropriate to their needs and enable choice and seamless, timely transitions within and across sectors;
  • patient experience: Australians have positive health and aged care experiences which take account of individual circumstances and care needs;
  • social inclusion and Indigenous health: Australia’s health system promotes social inclusion and reduces disadvantage, especially for Indigenous Australians; and
  • sustainability: Australians have a sustainable health system.

The Commonwealth and the States have also agreed to report against a number of performance measures to address these outcomes including: preventable disease and injuries; timely access to GPs, dental and other primary health care professionals; life expectancy, including the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians; waiting times for services; and net growth in the health workforce. The COAG Reform Council will report progress against these performance measures annually, commencing in 2009-10.

In addition, the COAG Reform Council will report performance against a range of measures, including:

  • reduced incidence and prevalence of sexually-transmitted infections and sentinel blood borne viruses (for example, Hepatitis C, HIV) for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians;
  • increased immunisation rates for vaccines in the national schedule;
  • reduced waiting times for selected public hospital services;
  • a reduction in selected adverse events in acute and sub-acute care settings compared to 2008-09 levels;
  • a reduction in unplanned/unexpected readmissions within 28 days of selected surgical admissions compared to 2008-09 levels;
  • increased rates of services provided by public hospitals per 1,000 weighted population by patient-type compared to 2008-09 levels;
  • timely access to GPs, dental and primary health care professionals; and
  • a reduction in selected potentially avoidable GP type presentations to emergency departments.

The Commonwealth and the States have also agreed to provide a basis for more efficient use of taxpayer funding of hospitals, and for increased transparency in the use of those funds through the introduction of Activity Based Funding. It will also allow comparisons of efficiency across public hospitals.

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