Policy and Advocacy
AMA Victoria is the voice of Victorian doctors on issues impacting on medical practitioners, the public health system, mental and community health services and public access to quality health care.
AMA Victoria is concerned to improve the health of the community through:
- greater community awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- increased participation in early detection and prevention programs
- lobbying governments for new legislation and / or increased funding for preventative health and research efforts
Achievements and Wins
The $30m for real-time prescription monitoring (RTPM) was a long overdue policy announcement. The AMA, along with the Coroners Court, had called for RTPM for many years. RTPM enables doctors and pharmacists to know if patient has already been prescribed a drug of dependence, such as diazepam. RTPM stops ‘doctor shopping’ and reduces the misuse, abuse and high number of fatal overdoses from prescription drugs.
The Australian Medical Association (Victoria) opposed moves by Charles Sturt and La Trobe universities to establish another medical school. Our primary argument that there are not enough junior doctor training positions to meet the needs of the current cohort ensured that the plans to establish the school were abolished.
Following many years of lobbying for stronger smoking laws, the AMA welcome today's legislative announcement by the Victorian Government to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas. "The AMA has long called for smoking to be banned in cafes and restaurants' outdoor areas, and for e-cigarettes to be included in the state's tobacco laws. Today's legislative announcement is a very positive public health measure and will benefit Victorians," Dr Lorraine Baker, the newly elected President of AMA Victoria, said this morning.
“The 2016-17 Victorian Budget is a good budget for rural health. The Government has announced $200m for a Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, which will lead to vast improvements to the state’s regional and rural health services” AMA Victoria President, Dr Tony Bartone, said this afternoon. “Rural and regional health funding will be directed throughout the state, including to Shepparton, Gippsland, Horsham, Warragul and Port Fairy. The AMA’s pre-budget submission called for significant funding for rural health – today’s budget is a great outcome,” Dr Bartone said.
We welcomed Treasurer Joe Hockey's November announcement that the Coalition Government would not be implementing the $2000 tax deductions cap for work-related self-education expenses. Since its introduction by the previous government in April, the AMA has been a strong opponent of this cap as it would be detrimental to ongoing medical education. The AMA was one of the founders of the Scrap the Cap Alliance which grew to include over 70 members representing different organisations and industries, and gained extensive media traction. AMA Victoria outlined our opposition to the State Government and also undertook several media interviews, including prominent pre-election health policy interviews on ABC 774 and 3AW.
The AMA has welcomed the introduction of Medicare rebated GP referred MRI items for patients who are 16 years of age and over – these items follow on from the introduction last year of GP referred MRI items for patients under 16. The AMA has been advocating for years for GP referred MRI and are pleased that the former and current Governments have heeded these calls. Previously, Medicare-rebated MRI scans could only be requested by other specialists, which could delay appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
On 13 October, the state government announced new bans which will prohibit smoking at all Victorian railway platforms and raised tram stops from early next year. The reform comes in addition to the ban in covered areas of train platforms and within tram and bus shelters as well as the previously announced restrictions on smoking at children’s playgrounds, public swimming pools, skate parks and children’s sporting events.
We have welcomed new state legislation to ban commercial tanning units in Victoria from 2015, which passed through Parliament on 15 October. Victoria’s ban on sunbeds is now consistent with the law in NSW, SA and Tasmania, and comes after years of lobbying by the AMA. The government made the announcement in December 2012 to give businesses time to diversify and develop safe alternatives. There are currently 112 businesses licensed to operate 385 commercial tanning units at 118 sites throughout Victoria.
Synthetic drugs used to achieve ‘legal highs’ will be banned under new laws introduced by the state government. The legislation was tabled in Parliament in October and will outlaw substances that mimic the effects of illegal drugs including cannabis, ecstasy and LSD. The new rules follow similar bans on a range of synthetic cannabinoids in 2011 and broader restrictions in 2012. AMA Victoria has been instrumental in achieving these changes, through numerous submissions to government and a high profile media campaign.
Victorian hospitals have received a winter bed boost from the Government, to help ease the burden on EDs. The beds come in response to continued pressure by AMA Victoria, including sustained media coverage of overcrowded EDs and our repeated requests that the Government release the number of public hospital beds in Victoria to show that it will meet its election promises. Monash Health will get 20 new beds – 12 at Dandenong Hospital and 8 at Monash Medical Centre.
Following extensive consultation with our members and other health professionals in Mildura, AMA Victoria lobbied strongly for changes to be made during the review of the contract governing Mildura Base Hospital. We called for changes to address a number of issues and continually raised these matters with the Government in meetings and formal submissions, as well as through the media. We have welcomed the Government's steps to address one of our key concerns: the Government's repurchase of the hospital building will help to ensure that the hospital’s capacity can be improved in line with the needs of a growing community.
Royal Commission into Mental Health
The Royal Commission will be tasked with providing a comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best support Victorians with mental illness.
Solving the regional and rural workforce problem requires different policies for different career stages.
AMA Victoria key health priorities
AMA Victoria's key health priorities are outlined in detail here.
AMA Victoria's policy submissions