Overview: about the agency (DHW Annual Report 2019 - 20)

Department for Health and Wellbeing Annual Report 2019-20

In this section


Our strategic focus

Our purpose

The Department for Health and Wellbeing (the department, DHW) is responsible for providing system leadership and developing the vision, direction and long-term strategies that will sustain the South Australian public health system, now and in the future.

The department, through the Chief Executive, is responsible to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing (the Minister).The department provides expert health and wellbeing advice, supporting the Minister and Chief Executive in exercising their powers and functions.

Our vision and strategic themes

The Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025 establishes a strong vision that South Australians experience the best health and wellbeing in Australia.

To achieve this vision, a strategic focus on prevention, protection, innovation, and sustainability will be maintained across SA Health, with the primary objective to improve the health and wellbeing of all South Australians.

Five principle themes support SA Health’s achievement of the vision and strategic direction. The themes form the foundation for the deliverable actions identified in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. These should form the principle rationale for determining, planning, and developing new improvement activities, initiatives and projects:

  • Together – working in partnership to develop patient-centred solutions and service improvements
  • Trusted – providing safe, reliable, and high-quality treatment and care
  • Targeted – addressing priority health needs and disparities with the right evidence, motivation, and interventions
  • Tailored – meeting the diverse and complex needs of individuals
  • Timely – optimising health and wellness outcomes by delivering timely and appropriate health care.

Our values

The South Australian Public Sector values articulate our commitment to each other, consumers and the community. These are Service, Professionalism, Trust, Respect, Collaboration and Engagement, Honesty and Integrity, Courage and Tenacity and Sustainability. Care and Kindness are SA Health values that underpin how we treat each other, working together to provide services.

Our Functions, Objectives and Deliverables

The department supports the delivery of public health services, formulates health and wellbeing policies and programs, facilitates public and consumer consultation on health issues, and monitors the performance of South Australia’s health system by providing timely advice, research, and administrative support.

The department has assumed the role as health system leader. In the context of the department’s relationship with the Local Health Networks (LHNs), SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) and other portfolio entities, the department’s aim is to improve whole-of-system capability and performance through alignment, culture, partnership, connectivity, and collaboration.

Led by the Chief Executive, the department is responsible for:

  • Supporting and advising the Minister and government on strategic policies and directions
  • Coordinating Parliamentary and Cabinet briefing processes
  • Statutory reporting requirements
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Participating in, and supporting the Minister to participate in, national reforms via national councils and committees
  • Regulatory and licencing functions.

As the system leader for the delivery of health services, the department will:

  • Develop the vision, direction and long-term planning strategy to sustain the health system
  • Provide strategic leadership, planning and direction for health care services in SA
  • Guide, inform and fulfil the planning and commissioning cycle including
    • Making recommendations for the allocation of funding from the health portfolio budget to health service providers
    • Enter into Service Agreements with health service providers outlining budget, activity and performance measures
    • Monitor performance and take remedial action when performance does not meet expected standards
    • Demonstrate strong financial management and accountability that prioritises investment in high value, evidence informed service responses and system sustainability at a local level
  • Arrange for the provision of health services by contracted health entities
  • Oversee, monitor and promote improvements in the safety and quality of health services
  • Prioritise and set system-wide interventions including regulations, policy directives, guidelines, funding, performance and programs
  • Support, promote and lead the delivery of relevant system-wide strategies, policies, plans, and innovation
  • Build system-wide collaboration and stakeholder networks
  • Foster a leadership culture that supports accountability, transparency, collaboration and encourages innovation.

Our organisational structure

Changes to the agency

During 2019-20, the following changes were applied to the agency’s structure and objectives as a result of internal reviews or machinery of government changes:

  • The transition of some business units to Local Health Networks and Shared Services SA was finalised as a result of governance reforms that commenced in 2018-19.
  • Wellbeing SA

Wellbeing SA was established initially as an operating entity within the department during 2018-19, reporting to the Chief Executive. During 2019-20, Wellbeing SA was established as an attached office under the Public Sector (Administrative Units) Proclamation 2019.

Wellbeing SA focuses on prevention, health promotion and primary health care. Wellbeing SA brings together the functions and services of Home Hospital, Prevention and Population Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing, including the Mental Health Commission.

  • Mental Health Commission

The administration of the South Australian Mental Health Commission was transferred to Wellbeing SA in 2019-20. Three new Mental Health Commissioners were appointed to public office by His Excellency, the Governor in Executive Council under section 68 of the Constitution Act 1934 on 6 January 2020. As a result of these reforms the administrative unit of the South Australian Mental Health Commission was abolished on 5 December 2019, previously established as a government department under the Public Sector Act 2009.

  • Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health (the Commission)

The Commission was established initially as an operating entity within the department during 2018-19, reporting to the Chief Executive. During 2019-20, The Commission was established as an attached office under the Public Sector (Administrative Units) Proclamation 2019.

The Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health provides leadership and advice on clinical excellence and innovation.

Our Minister

Hon Stephen Wade MLC is the Minister for Health and Wellbeing in South Australia.

The Minister oversees health, wellbeing, mental health, ageing well, substance abuse and suicide prevention.

Our Executive team

  • Dr Christopher McGowan is the Chief Executive
  • Professor Nicola Spurrier is the Chief Public Health Officer
  • Dr John Brayley is the Chief Psychiatrist, responsible for functions relating to the administration of the Mental Health Act 2009 and the standard of mental health care in SA
  • Don Frater is the Deputy Chief Executive, System Leadership and Design
  • Lynne Cowan is the Deputy Chief Executive, Commissioning and Performance
  • Julienne TePohe is the Deputy Chief Executive, Corporate and System Support Services
  • Bret Morris is the Chief Digital Health Officer, responsible for the department’s information technology strategy.

Legislation administered by the agency

The department plays a role in administering all legislation committed to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing with some legislation administered in conjunction with other public sector agencies:

  • Advance Care Directives Act 2013
  • Aged Citizens Clubs (Subsidies) Act 1963
  • Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995
  • Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988
  • Blood Contaminants Act 1985
  • Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995
  • Controlled Substances Act 1984
  • Food Act 2001
  • Gene Technology Act 2001
  • Health and Community Services Complaints Act 2004
  • Health Care Act 2008
  • Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010
  • Health Professionals (Special Events Exemption) Act 2000
  • Health Services Charitable Gifts Act 2011
  • Mental Health Act 2009
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents (Lifetime Support Scheme) Act 2013
  • National Health Funding Pool Administration (South Australia) Act 2012
  • Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2003
  • Public Intoxication Act 1984
  • Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2003
  • Retirement Villages Act 2016
  • Safe Drinking Water Act 2011
  • South Australian Public Health Act 2011
  • Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997
  • Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983

Pertinent updates to legislation during 2019-20 include:

  • The revised Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) (Remote Area Attendance) Amendment Act 2017 (known as Gayle’s Law) became operational on 7 November 2019.
  • Additions to the South Australian Public Health Act 2011
    • No Jab No Play amendments were made on 1 January 2020 requiring early childhood services to collect and retain immunisation records of all children enrolled, and to provide these to the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) on request 
    • Amendments to the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 were made to provide the CPHO with additional powers to respond quickly and effectively in order to control the spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.
  • COVID-19
    • On 15 March 2020, a public health emergency in relation to the transmission of COVID-19 was declared for fourteen days in South Australia pursuant to section 87 of the South Australian Public Health Act 2011
    • The COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 made temporary amendments to the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 on 9 April 2020, to support the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Became a notifiable and controlled notifiable condition under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 from 28 January 2020.

Other related agencies (within the Minister's area/s of responsibility)

The public sector agencies listed below are responsible for reporting information about their activities and operations in their own annual report submitted to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing:

  • Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network
  • Central Adelaide Local Health Network
  • Central Adelaide Local Health Network Health Advisory Council (Governing Council)
  • Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health
  • Controlled Substances Advisory Council
  • Country Health Gift Fund Health Advisory Council Inc.
  • Regional Health Advisory Councils (39 across SA)
  • Eyre and Far North Local Health Network
  • Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network
  • Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner
  • Health Performance Council
  • Health Services Charitable Gifts Board
  • Limestone Coast Local Health Network
  • Northern Adelaide Local Health Network
  • Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Health Advisory Council (Governing Council)
  • Office for Ageing Well
  • Pharmacy Regulation Authority of South Australia
  • Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network
  • SA Ambulance Service
  • SA Ambulance Service Volunteers’ Health Advisory Council
  • SA Medical Education and Training Health Advisory Council
  • South Australian Public Health Council
  • Southern Adelaide Local Health Network
  • Southern Adelaide Local Health Network Health Advisory Council (Governing Council)
  • Wellbeing SA
  • Women’s and Children’s Health Network
  • Women’s and Children’s Health Network Health Advisory Council (Governing Council)
  • Veterans’ Health Advisory Council
  • Yorke and Northern Local Health Network