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1.  Australia and New Zealand Health Policy: a new journal 
Australia and New Zealand Health Policy is a new journal which aims to promote debate and understanding about contemporary health policy developments in Australia and New Zealand. Although there are other international journals focussing on health policy, there are no Australian or New Zealand journals with this focus.
One of the aims of Australia and New Zealand Health Policy is to focus on contemporary critiques and contemporary developments. Accordingly an e-journal format is particularly appropriate. Australian and New Zealand Health Policy is an open access journal which means that all articles will be freely and universally accessible online which, amongst other things, means that all articles will be freely and universally accessible online without any barriers to access, which increases their visibility.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-1
PMCID: PMC544960  PMID: 15679922
2.  The socioeconomic gradient and chronic illness and associated risk factors in Australia 
Objective
To examine the prevalence of major chronic diseases and their risk factors in different socioeconomic groups in the Australian population, in order to highlight the need for public policy initiatives to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in health.
Methods
Data were provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from the 2001 National Health Survey (NHS) for selected chronic diseases and associated risk factors. Conditions selected were those, which form the National Health Priority Area (NHPA) conditions (other than injury, which has not been included in this paper, with its focus on chronic disease); plus other 'serious' chronic conditions, in line with the classification developed by Mathers; and for which sufficient cases were available for analysis by socioeconomic status. Indirectly age-standardised prevalence rates were calculated by broad age group for Australia and for five groups of socioeconomic status; rate ratios were calculated to show variations in prevalence between these groups.
Results
Significant socioeconomic inequalities were evident for many of the major chronic diseases; the largest was for diabetes mellitus (at ages 25 to 64 years); and for many diseases, there was also a strong, continuous socioeconomic gradient in the rates.
Circulatory system diseases (in particular, hypertensive disease) and digestive system diseases also exhibited a strong differential in the 25 to 64 year age group.
In the 65 years and over age group, the strongest inequalities were evident for mental and behavioural problems, diabetes (with a continuous socioeconomic gradient in rates) and respiratory system diseases.
A number of risk factors for chronic diseases, namely self-reported smoking, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity and excess weight showed a striking association with socioeconomic status, in particular for people who were smokers and those who did not exercise.
Conclusion
This analysis shows that the prevalence of chronic disease varies across the socioeconomic gradient for a number of specific diseases, as well as for important disease risk factors. Therefore, any policy interventions to address the impact of chronic disease, at a population level, need to take into account these socioeconomic inequalities.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-8
PMCID: PMC546403  PMID: 15679942
3.  The Australian Health Care Agreements 2003–2008 
The Australian Health Care Agreements for the five years 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2008 were signed in August 2003 after vituperative debate and intransigence from the Commonwealth that vitiated the negotiation process. The new Agreements, which were not as generous as the Agreements they replaced, increase accountability on the States, requiring States to match increases in Commonwealth funding, and de-emphasise the prospects for further reform in Commonwealth-State relations during the course of the Agreements. This paper describes the new Australian Health Care Agreements and the process which led to them.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-5
PMCID: PMC546402  PMID: 15679941
4.  Managing emerging infectious diseases: Is a federal system an impediment to effective laws? 
In the 1980's and 1990's HIV/AIDS was the emerging infectious disease. In 2003–2004 we saw the emergence of SARS, Avian influenza and Anthrax in a man made form used for bioterrorism. Emergency powers legislation in Australia is a patchwork of Commonwealth quarantine laws and State and Territory based emergency powers in public health legislation. It is time for a review of such legislation and time for consideration of the efficacy of such legislation from a country wide perspective in an age when we have to consider the possibility of mass outbreaks of communicable diseases which ignore jurisdictional boundaries.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-7
PMCID: PMC544965  PMID: 15679928
5.  Australian health system restructuring – what problem is being solved? 
Background
In recent years, Australian state and territory governments have reviewed and restructured the health systems they lead and regulate. This paper examines the outcomes of the most recent official published reviews of systems and structures; identifies the common themes; and addresses two questions: what problems are being addressed? And how would we know if the changes were successful?
Results
In all the broad, systemic reviews, the main health system problems identified were money, hospital utilisation and a weak primary health care system. The solutions are various, but there is a common trend towards centralisation of governance, often at state health authority level, and stronger accountability measures. Other common themes are hospital substitution (services to avoid the need for admission); calls for cooperation across the Commonwealth:state divide, or for its abolition; and the expected range of current efficiency and effectiveness measures (eg amalgamate pathology and support services) and ideas in good currency (eg call centres). The top-down nature of the public review process is noted, along with the political nature of the immediate catalysts for calling on a review.
Conclusion
The long-standing tension between the pull to centralisation of authority and the need for innovation in care models is heightened by recent changes, which may be counterproductive in an era dominated by the burden of chronic disease. I argue that the current reforms will not succeed in achieving the stated goals unless they make a difference for people with chronic illness. And if this is correct, the most useful focus for evaluation of the success of the reforms may be their impact on the system's ability to develop and deliver better models of care for this growing group of patients.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-6
PMCID: PMC544964  PMID: 15679935
6.  Healthy children, healthy country: the use of governing instruments in shifting the policy paradigm 
The evidence on early childhood strongly suggests the need to shift child health policy from the current focus on social welfare to a socio-ecologically based approach. This paper reviews three governing instruments, exhortation, expenditure and regulation, that have been used by governments in Australia and discusses the relative effectiveness of these approaches in shifting the child health policy paradigm.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-4
PMCID: PMC544963  PMID: 15679926
7.  Recent developments in national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy 
In this paper I will describe some of the sentinel events in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy and strategy during 2003 and the early part of 2004. This will involve discussion on the:
• National Strategic Framework in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
• National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Mental Health and Social and Emotional Well Being 2004–2009
• National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework
• The roll-out of the Primary Health Care Access Program
• The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey and the National Indigenous Health Survey
These developments are consistent with a policy agenda that has evolved, in general terms, since the release of the National Aboriginal Health Strategy in 1989. However, I will also consider significant developments in the broader context for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, particularly the decision made in early 2004 by the Howard government to abolish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). While the key events and developments that are reported in this paper elaborate on an agenda that has been developing for more than a decade, the decision to abolish ATSIC is likely to have a revolutionary impact on the future development of Aboriginal health strategy.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-3
PMCID: PMC544962  PMID: 15679932
8.  Australian primary care policy in 2004: two tiers or one for Medicare? 
The recent primary care policy debate in Australia has centred on access to primary medical (general practice) services. In Australia, access is heavily influenced by Commonwealth Government patient rebates that provide incentives for general practitioners not to charge copayments to patients (bulk billing). A steady decline in key access indicators (bulk billing) has led the Howard Government to introduce a set of changes that move Medicare from a universal scheme, to one increasingly targeted at providing services to more disadvantaged Australians. In doing so, another scene in the story of the contest between universal health care and selective provision in Australia has been written. This paper explores the immediate antecedents and consequences of the changes and sets them in the broader context of policy development for primary care in Australia.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-1-2
PMCID: PMC544961  PMID: 15679930

Results 1-8 (8)