Health Care Act

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HPC's terms of reference

Our terms of reference were updated on 2 August 2020 and ratified in-Council at our bi-monthly meeting of 3 September 2020. You can download our terms of reference here.


HPC's responsibilities under the current Act

Our responsibilities under the Health Care Act 2008 (the Act) are:

  1. Provide advice to the Minister about:
    • the operation of the health system
    • health outcomes for South Australians and, as appropriate, for particular population groups
    • the effectiveness of methods used within the health system to engage communities andindividuals in improving their health outcomes.
  2. Provide reports to the Minister in accordance with the requirements of the Act.
  3. Provide advice to the Minister about any matter referred to it by the Minister or any matter it sees fit to advise the Minister about in connection with its responsibilities under the Act; and such other functions assigned to HPC under this or any other Act, or assigned to HPC by the Minister.
  4. In the performance of its functions, will take into account the strategic objectives that have been set or adopted within the Government's health portfolios.
  5. In providing any advice with respect to the provision of any health services (including proposed services), take into account:
    • the net benefit provided by the services, the cost effectiveness of services, and available resources
    • the net impact that the adoption of the advice would have on other services, or on the community more generally
    • the value placed on any relevant services by members of the public who use those services.
  6. As required, request the Chief Executive to provide it with specified information in order to assist it in the performance of its functions.
  7. Adhere to the conditions the Chief Executive may impose in relation to the receipt, use or disclosure of information provided under subsection (7) of the Act.

HPC will, on a 4-yearly basis, furnish to the Minister a report that assesses the health of South Australians and changes in health outcomes over the reporting period.

The report will:

  • identify significant trends in the health status of South Australians and consider future priorities for the health system having regard to trends in health outcomes, including trends that relate to particular illnesses or population groups
  • review the performance of the various health systems established within the State in achieving the objects of the Act
  • identify any other significant issues considered relevant by HPC; and conform with any requirements of the Minister as to the form of the report and other matters to be addressed by the report.


You can download our 2016 terms of reference here (PDF) and our 2008 working framework here (PDF). 


HPC's response to the Health Care (Governance) Amendment Bill 2019

On 6 May 2019 we wrote to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing in response to the Health Care (Governance) Amendment Bill 2019 being introduced into the South Australian Parliament. This Bill includes provisions for the dissolution of the Health Performance Council once the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health is established.

  • Download a copy of our letter here
  • Download a copy of the Bill here
  • Download a copy of Hansard from introduction of the Bill here.

The Council understands and supports the government’s commitment to devolve accountability and responsibility for local health service delivery to the community level. This is an ambitious program of work to restructure the South Australian public health system, including provisions for service agreements with local health networks and tightly focusing the role of the chief executive of the Department for Health and Wellbeing.

We see many opportunities, and are working to contribute to the government’s efforts to provide quality care for all South Australians. In its current form, this Bill focuses too narrowly on public health services and a process perspective rather than a population wide and whole health system perspective. This will be to the detriment of understanding all‐of‐South Australia population health outcomes. A picture of health system performance that only draws on public hospital activity is incomplete, and may be misleading. In our role under our Act, we advise the Minister on significant trends in the health status of South Australians and consider future priorities for the health systems in South Australia. This whole of system approach can identify movements in health outcomes, including trends that relate to particular illnesses or population groups; as well as reviewing the performance of the various health systems established within the state. For example, we advised in the latest 4‐yearly report (December 2018) that patient movement between the public and private health systems remains a huge data blind spot in South Australia, and oversight is important to ensure that the South Australian population is adequately and safely served.

Our output has a distinct and strategic role that can authenticate and support service level agreement implementation. We offer a whole system perspective with legitimate challenge to information aggregated under service level agreements, and test this information by drawing on different sources of intelligence, quantitative and qualitative, most especially in forming advice about how to tackle disparities between outcomes for specific population groups. We have a practice of designing review projects with stakeholders and community, and publish all of our work to promote transparency. Aboriginal peoples’ inclusion is intrinsic to our way of working. For example, we proudly co‐host the bi-annual Aboriginal Leaders’ Forum with SAHMRI's Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit. The Aboriginal Leaders’ Forum originated in the recognition that more was needed to deliver Aboriginal intelligence and sense‐checking to health statistics and health service performance assessment.

The Council accepts the value of understanding all‐of‐South Australian population health outcomes is not necessarily in the body that provides scrutiny, rather that it happens for the benefit of the community and health system consumers. We would applaud the South Australian government moving towards greater transparency about the health system, accountability and public trust with fewer overheads. Potentially, agencies such as the South Australian Auditor‐General or South Australian Productivity Commission could be tasked with extending their current scrutiny roles to establish an overview of the various health systems (public and private) and interests of specific population groups. Alternatively, Department for Health and Wellbeing datasets could be made available to allow others to analyse performance and outcomes data. Providing more open data could be an efficient alternative to advise the Minister, and benefit many interests including local health network boards.

Council members, all serving their terms until 1 August 2020, will continue to contribute expert, independent analysis and advice to the Minister about state‐wide population health outcomes and health system performance. We will keep this analysis and advice publically available.


2012 independent review of HPC

With our first term of membership concluding on 25 June 2012, the Minister for Health and Ageing commissioned the Office of Public Employment and Review, to independently review our membership structure. The review was completed in January 2012 and the report submitted to the Minister on 31 January 2012.

The findings and recommendations put forward were endorsed by the Minister and subsequently formed the selection process for appointing members in subsequent terms.