Overview: about the agency (DHW 2022-23 Annual Report)

Our strategic focus

Our Purpose

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

Our Vision

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 SA Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025 and informs 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. Further, to support these values, SA Health upholds Care and Kindness values that underpin how we treat each other and our patients, and work together to provide services.

Our functions, objectives and deliverables

Department for Health and Wellbeing 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. Department for Health and Wellbeing is the health system leader, in the context of the department’s relationship with the Local Health Networks, SA Ambulance Service and other portfolio entities. Department for Health and Wellbeing’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
  • Inter-governmental 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 South Australia
  • 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 inter-agency stakeholder networks
  • Foster a leadership culture that supports accountability, transparency, collaboration and encourages innovation.

Our organisational structure

Organisational Chart 2021/22 (PDF 282KB)

Changes to the agency

During 2022-23 there were the following changes to the agency’s structure and objectives as a result of internal reviews:

  • The creation of an Office of the Chief Executive, which saw the creation of a new senior position – Director, Office of the Chief Executive.
  • A new Deputy Chief Executive was also created to oversee an additional division created from the realignment of existing divisions.
  • The restructure was a reporting realignment only, which took effect from 6 March 2023, with the full realignment achieved by 3 July 2023.
  • On 1 May 2023, the Department for Health and Wellbeing separated the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist and the Mental Health Strategy Directorate aligning with other Australian jurisdictions.

Our Minister

Hon Chris Picton MP is the Minister for Health and Wellbeing in South Australia.

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

Our Executive team (as at 30 June 2023)

  • Dr Robyn Lawrence – Chief Executive
  • Julienne TePohe – Deputy Chief Executive, Commissioning and Performance
  • Judith Formston – Deputy Chief Executive, Corporate Services
  • Lynne Cowan – Deputy Chief Executive, Clinical System Support and Improvement
  • Sinead O’Brien – Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance
  • Prof Nicola Spurrier PSM – Chief Public Health Officer
  • Dr John Brayley – Chief Psychiatrist
  • Mr Bret Morris – Chief Digital Health Officer
  • Rob Elliott ASM – Chief Executive Officer, SA Ambulance Service

Legislation administered by the agency

The Department for Health and Wellbeing 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
  • National Health Funding Pool Administration (South Australia) Act 2012
  • New Women’s and Children’s Hospital Act 2022
  • 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
  • Suicide Prevention Act 2021
  • Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021
  • Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997
  • Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1983
  • Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021

Pertinent updates to legislation during 2022-23 include:

Introduction of the New Women’s and Children’s Hospital Act 2022

  • On 19 January 2023, the New Women’s and Children’s Hospital Act 2022 came into operation. This Act facilitates the development of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital ensuring the next stage of the once-in-a generation project can begin, the Act removes planning and development barriers that could increase the new hospital’s cost and construction timeframes.

The following Acts commenced operations:

  • The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 was passed on 24 June 2021 and came into effect on 31 January 2023. The Act provides a safe, accessible and compassionate end of life choice for eligible South Australians suffering from a terminal illness.
  • The Suicide Prevention Act 2021 commenced on 5 September 2022 (except subsections 19, 23 and 26, which commenced on 1 February 2023). The Suicide Prevention Act aims to reduce the incidence of deaths by suicide in South Australia and establishes the Suicide Prevention Council.
  • The Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021 came into operation on 7 July 2022. This Act reformed the law relating to pregnancy terminations and regulates the conduct of health practitioners in relation to pregnancy terminations.

Amendment occurred to the following Acts:

  • The Health Care Act 2008 was amended in December 2022, to broaden the power of the Minister acquiring land. Whilst the previous provision facilitated the acquisition of land for the purpose of an incorporated hospital, the amendment expands this to if the land is reasonably necessary for the purposes of the provision of health services, allowing the Minister to acquire land for the purpose of ambulance stations.
  • The Gene Technology Act 2001 was amended in March 2023 to insert a provision allowing amendment of the Act by Regulation to give effect to any change made to the Commonwealth Gene Technology Act.

Expiry of transitional provisions associated with the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995:

  • On 1 October 2022, the transitional provisions limiting the scope of the Adult Safeguarding Unit to older adults aged 65 and over (or 50 and older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people) and adults with a disability expired. From this date, the Adult Safeguarding Unit has a legislative remit to receive and respond to reports of suspected abuse of any adult who may be vulnerable due to age, disability, ill health, social isolation, dependence on others, or other disadvantage.

Public consultation was undertaken on amendments to the following Acts:

  • Following completion of an independent review of the Retirement Villages Act 2016 by PEG Consulting in 2021, a draft Retirement Villages (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2023 was released for public consultation from 31 March – 19 May 2023. Following analysis of all submissions, an updated amendment Bill is anticipated to be introduced to Parliament in 2023-2024.
  • Consultation on the draft Assisted Reproductive Treatment (Posthumous Use of Material and Donor Conception Register) Amendment Bill 2022 to amend the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 occurred in late 2022. The proposed amendments, once passed, will facilitate access to the Donor Conception Register and to allow for the posthumous use of gametes in specified circumstances. It is anticipated that a revised Bill following consultation will be introduced into Parliament during 2023-24.

Other legislative updates:

  • In 2022-23, the South Australian Law Reform Institute undertook an independent review of the operation of the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995, which is required under section 53 to be conducted and a report submitted to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing by 1 October 2022. In their final report, which was tabled in Parliament on 1 November 2022, the South Australian Law Reform Institute made 46 recommendations relating to legislation, policy and practice changes, predominately relating to the operation of the Adult Safeguarding Unit. The Government accepted the majority of the review recommendations (in full or in part), with a small number of recommendations related to other Acts still under consideration. A draft amendment bill is now being developed to give effect to recommendations requiring legislative amendment to the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995, which is expected to be introduced to Parliament during 2023-24.
  • The South Australian Law Reform Institute undertook a review of the Mental Health Act 2009, which was tabled in Parliament on 2 May 2023.
  • On 19 October 2022, the Advance Care Directives (Review) Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced to amend the Act in accordance with several recommendations made by Professor Wendy Lacey following a review of the Act, undertaken in 2019. On 29 June 2023, the Minister for Health and Wellbeing filed an amendment to the Bill to clarify the effect of an Advance Care Directive on the provision of health care when a health practitioner reasonably suspects that a person has attempted suicide or self-harm.

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
  • 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 South Australia)
  • 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
  • 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
  • Wellbeing SA
  • Women’s and Children’s Health Network
  • Veterans’ Health Advisory Council
  • Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board
  • Yorke and Northern Local Health Network