Friday, July 10, 2009

Notes from the Victoria stakeholders forum, 7 July

Victorian Forum on Bill B The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme on Tuesday 7th July 2009.

A powerpoint presentation prepared by the Health Department, and presented at the forum is available. Unfortunately this blog program does not enable posting to the site, but if you wish to see the presentation, please contact

Deadline for submissions July 17th - this is an opportunity for anyone to respond to the exposure draft of 'Bill B'

Clare Lane and Jennie Teskey noted the following points:

Mandatory Reporting: a new requirement to report any professional who is thought to be placing the public at risk of substantial harm, including through a departure from accepted professional standards.

Criminal history and identity checks
Public interest accessor to be appointed, who reviews findings of the Board.
Student registration from 2011
Registration categories -
Limited ( teaching or research)
Student- may not need to be registered in 1st year if no clinical placements.
If a person is now registered, you will be automatically registered with new board. Individuals who are not covered by professional indemnity insurance - ie MiPPs - will be registered as 'non-practising'

Further notes:
Maternity Coalition was represented by Janie Nottingham and Faye Kricak
Homebirth Australia was represented by Donna Sheppard-Wright and Joy Johnston

At several points in the forum we were reminded that regulation of health professionals is to protect the public. Yet our arguments that the public were being put at greater risk of harm by not having a midwife at home births seemed to fall on deaf ears.

No statement was made about recording the questions asked. It appeared that the forum was merely an exercise in public exposure – that directions are already set in all but minor matters. It would seem that any significant issues will need to be re-presented in submissions and in further lobbying.

Questions about independent midwifery and homebirth with a private midwife were asked by various stakeholders present. However after a very dismissive response from the Health Minister, Daniel Andrews; not responding to Joy’s question regarding the government’s heavy handed attempt to regulate and redefine midwifery, any further questions about the matter were met with an audible sigh from people in the audience. The audience was clearly sick of hearing about the homebirth questions.

The Minister used the opportunity to ‘announce’ publicly funded homebirth in Victoria in the ‘near’ future (no date given).

The points made by Minister Andrews and other presenters were
• The only thing that the Vic government will support is community birthing through a hospital setting

• The minister clearly stated that the government does not want to support the indemnity insurance for ‘a small pocket of women and midwives’, when there are what he said are ‘better ways to spend the public dollar across the whole health system’ (as he waved his arm across the room at all professionals). He appears to be dead set against independent midwifery, and nothing we said or didn’t say yesterday has changed a thing.

• It was pointed out to the Minister that the restriction of the midwife’s scope of practice, excluding homebirth, would impact on the definition of the midwife. This would have a flow on effect on education of midwives.

• The Minister quickly defended his position and passed the buck from state to federal when it came to the issue of professional indemnity insurance.

• The claim was made at the forum that “we have listened to and acted on your feedback in preparing the exposure draft Bill B” – yet the responses we received to any questions about private midwifery practice led us to believe that there is no such intention.

• The chair of the meeting was asked in the lunch break to advise on how we can progress the issue of independent midwives as a key issue in the second session. She responded that we just had to accept the way it was, and that we had had enough airing of our issues in the first session.

• The ANF (Aust Nursing Federation) wanted distinction between who holds responsibility to obtain PII: the registered professional or the employer. ANF pointed out that nurses working in private clinics may not have coverage under their employment. The comment was made that employers check a future employees’ registration and asked how will one nurse hold insurance between jobs to satisfy the registration requirements? The reply was they will need to have it written into their contracts.

• Any health professional who is not insured will be ‘non-practising’ under the act, and it will be unlawful for that person to practise their profession.

• There was no comment made by the ACM on Victorian midwives situation.

We recommend that midwives practising the full scope of midwifery practice, including homebirth, be provided with indemnity insurance under the new Act. Furthermore, we urge the Minister to implement transitional arrangements to ensure that all women who book privately with midwives for planned homebirth after 1 July 2010 are able to continue receiving primary care from their known midwife.

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