HSRAANZ Webinar Series – panel on commissioning health care in Australia – reflecting on Primary Health Networks.

The Panel

Helen Dickinson, Associate Professor of Public Governance at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne.

Learne Durrington, Chief Executive WA Primary Health Alliance.

Suzanne Robinson, Associate Professor and Theme Leader for Health Systems and Health Economics, Curtin University.

Jason Trethowan, Chief Executive Officer, Western Victoria Primary Health Network Ltd.


Health systems are challenged by pressures of increased demand and rising costs. The rise in complex chronic conditions means that the current system design that stems from an era when communicable disease was more prevalent than chronic is struggling to meet the changing health needs of the population. As governments look to ways to reform health systems we have seen an interest in the role of commissioning as a mechanism through which to reform many different aspects of public services. Primary Health Networks (PHN) have been charged with commissioning primary care services in Australia. The essence of commissioning is to take a stewardship role with a focus on providing vision and direction for the health system, collecting and using intelligence, and exerting influence - through regulation and other means.

As PHNs reach their first birthday it’s timely to take stock of how commissioning is developing both nationally and internationally. The webinar incorporated research, policy and practice perspectives on the development and implementation of commissioning in Australia.

The panel session focused on broad areas relating to the following:

  • The current understanding of commissioning, and what it should achieve in PHN  localities;
  • The challenges and opportunities of the commissioning process in Australia;
  • Concepts and elements of successful commissioning;
  • How are PHN commissioners working with wider stakeholder groups?